A Sunday night in south Croydon may not seem like a very romantic thing to you, but I can assure you there are two places which make this entirely possible.
One is Albert’s Table, reviewed by your heroine on these pages before, and assuming the status of a very firm favourite. Now we have Brasserie Vacherin, the place that used to be Fish and Grill.
The chef is Malcolm John, and he has imprinted his style and class most definitely here.
The night we went, the temperatures were still in the twenties, so they had almost the whole front of the restaurant opened up, and it made for a very appealing café culture look.
We were early, but the staff made us immediately welcome whilst they readied our table. Halfway through our drinks we were shown to our places. We didn’t even have to carry our drinks, they were brought to us.
Part of the very nice lobby and bar area here:
and the view to the street from our table.
This is a rather spectacular fish display, but I was too shy to actually go and take a photo of it.
The menu proved a problem. We just could NOT decide what to have because everything sounded so appealing. To pass the time, we ate rather a lot of delicious French bread with some beautifully subtle anchovy butter.
Eventually, we chose. Scallops with Black Pudding, Alsace Bacon and Apples to start for both of us.
It was exquisite. The scallops were perfectly cooked, even with that level of caramelisation, they were still soft and slightly pearlescent inside.
We made very short work of that.
Next was Navarin of Lamb for me, and a Breton Fish Stew for Simon.
The lamb in this dish simply fell apart when I pulled my fork against it. Very rich, but not cloying, and not at all fatty.
The vegetables retained all of their colour and freshness, and they contrasted with the rich, sweet lamb in just the way that I wanted and expected. Nothing was under or over cooked. I couldn’t have wanted for anything better.
Here we have Simon’s Breton Fish Stew. He assured me it was utterly delicious, and I will take his word on that. I just really cannot stand mussels, and they taint everything around them for me, so even the perfectly cooked clam that I tried tasted of mussel.
The fish looked wonderful though, and the vegetables were tender without falling apart.
Now, where to go from there. Did we want dessert? Yes, we really did. Need didn’t come into it. WANT most definitely did.
Cherry Clafoutis for me, because in cherry season, what else could I do?
It was utterly delicious. Sweet batter sponge, not eggy at all, (which is always a worry for me) and any richness was cut by the cherry drizzle and the crème fraiche.
Can’t you feel yourself drawn in by the very lusciousness of this pudding?
Simon had a Chocolate Fondant with Amaretto Ice Cream.
Yes, I know, we’ve all had a fondant before but this…the inside was properly liquid as it should be but it was also darkly chocolaty, so not at all over-sweet. I tried a small piece, and the bitterness of the chocolate came through beautifully, but wasn’t overpowering. Excellent.
I am terribly sorry not to have a photo of the chocolate sauce oozing glossily over the plate, but we were both too busy eating.
We finished with a latte for me – milky, yes but strong and sweet, just as I like it – and a rather fine port for Simon.
The meal – 3 courses, including extra bread, drinks, a cocktail, a port and service came to a shade over £80.
The wait staff were absolutely top notch, all calmness and efficiency. At one point we even had Chef John sitting at a table next to us, chatting to some customers.
It’s a very comfortable setting, and I am fairly sure we will go there again. The Autumn menu will be out soon, and I really want to see what they have on offer.
Thank you Chef, and all the staff, for making it a perfect evening for us.
48 - 50 South End, Croydon,
Telephone: 020 8774 4060
Fax: 020 8686 8002