I was working this last weekend and The Better Half (TBH) agreed to come and meet me for something to eat when I was done. It had been a busy few weeks and I was feeling lazy, so suggested one of the perfectly acceptable chain restaurants near the office. He wasn’t having any of it though and wanted us to be a little more adventurous. Sigh. I just wanted something comforting and easy! A quick scan through my bucket list and the various restaurant web sites, I decided that Brasserie Zédel would fit the brief nicely.
Located in a little side street just behind the always busy Piccadilly Circus, you could be fooled into thinking that you were stepping into 1920’s Paris when walking into the ground floor café. Making our way downstairs to the restaurant, vintage posters lining the walls, I absolutely loved the art-deco feel to the place. The restaurant itself is vast, seating up to 200 people at a time (We were told that on weekends they can do as many as 1000 covers in an evening. Wowers!) We were seated immediately and presented with the all French menu. It didn’t take long for us to decide what to have.
To start I went for the classic soup à l’oignon or French onion soup (£5.25). One of my favourite soups and this version was extremely good, if a little salty for my palate. TBH disagreed though and thought it was just right. The flavours were deep and the Gruyere croutons added a lovely texture and richness.
TBH had 6 Escargots au beurre persillé (£8.75). In Paris a few years ago, he was surprised to be served escargots still in their shell and with only a small smattering of garlic and parsley sprinkled over the top. The snails that arrived on this occasion, were exactly like the snails we are served in restaurants in South Africa – without their shell and absolutely drenched in a garlic and parsley butter with a crumb top. He was delighted and mopped it all up enthusiastically.
I chose another French classic for my main course Boeuf Bourguignon with pommes purée (£12.00) and a side dish of haricots verts et échalotes (£3.25) – beef braised in red wine sauce with mashed potatoes and green beans. The pieces of beef so tender that it didn’t need a knife to cut through it and the green beans cooked perfectly al-dente. It was a hefty portion of pure comfort food. Exactly what I craved and absolutely astonishing value to boot.
TBH had the entrecôte aux ceps, frites et salade verde – ribeye steak with mushrooms, fries and green salad (£24.95). It was a good steak, cooked how he had asked for it. He assumed the ceps would be a sauce and so was a little disappointed that it wasn’t. But when he asked for a pepper sauce for his chips, he was quickly brought one. It was nicely spiced and very creamy and so completed his meal perfectly for him.
I was so tempted to order cheese from the trolley that was being wheeled around. It was positively heaving with big chunks of cheese and their accompaniments, it looked stunning. But the generous portion sizes of the previous two courses put paid to that. TBH on the other hand, could not resist the Crème Brûlée (£4.50). It’s his favourite dessert and he gets such pleasure from the crack of the sugar topping and breaking into the luscious depths of custard below. The Brasserie Zédel version was another large portion, but that was good for me as I could have a couple of spoonfuls without feeling too guilty for robbing him of his dessert! Creamy with lots of vanilla running through the custard, it was delicious and not sickly sweet. We both enjoyed it a lot.
Service was quick and smart and everything was well timed. We were never waiting for anything too long. Our total bill came to £93.30 including service and drinks, which is just unbelievable value. Brasserie Zédel has the very typically French brasserie feel absolutely spot on. I would recommend it for your fix of tasty traditional French food at very reasonable prices if you’re ever in central London.
Until we eat again!