Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live, breathe and eat in London. The 10 Cases is so good it's practically a public service. Being a West End boy I've grown proficient at seeking out hidden gems in Soho and Covent Garden and The 10 Cases is a worthy addition to that list.
The dark panelled pocket-box of a bistro is appropriately named for it's main draw, the rapidly rolling wine selection; 10 cases of 10 whites and 10 reds, when they're gone, they're gone. We sampled a light and jammy Chinon and a surprisingly good Austrian red. Both, like most of the list, pleasingly priced at £25-£30 and available by glass, bottle or carafe.
We were a bottle to the good before arriving and immediately ploughed into a selection of their excellent small plates. You can go for starters and mains if you fancy, though there are generally only 3 big dishes at any one time. Excellent fresh bread (a £1.50 cover in case that kind of thing annoys) was a great soaker-upper of the reminants of buttery potted crab and a surprising (to us) foie gras en cocotte.
Surprising only if you were expecting foie gras en croute, not having read the menu properly. Envisaging some form of butter pastry and forcefed liver combination, we were disappointed in the way that only the truly gluttonous could be. If you know your bistro dishes then you'd be expecting a pot poached egg in butter on a tiny, perfectly cooked slab of foie. You'd be right, but you probably wouldn't remember quite how wonderful this dish can be, because if you did, you'd be eating it now. Right now. Silk cooked in butter, served with butter…
Steak hache, that bistro stalwart, wouldn't be a bad addition to the menu but other than that, it was pretty near perfect. The only slight fail for me was a deconstructed prawn cocktail. Fresh enough ingredients and the old skool styling delighted my guest but i didn't rate it as anything more than a dull assemblage. Thankfully we finished on an enormous pillowy chocolate mousse meant for sharers. Being one of the few desserts I have in my home cook repertoire I'm not sure it was entirely worth the £9.50 price tag, but as a bittersweet full stop to a sophisticated drinking session it was delicious.
Service was excellent and sealed the deal. The owner and his bar based sidekick made an affable team. Recommendations were spot on, knowledge of their small list couldn't have been better and there was an easy welcome for everyone. Despite being slap bang in the tourist centre of the West End, The 10 Cases manages to be the local bistro you'd want to have on your street corner.