Sometimes I wonder why, why is Panu my most favouritest person in the world? I mean, he’s a health nut, like a complete utter crazy health freak and me, well we all know I’m a certified glutton. I scratch my head and think for a moment, but luckily, I usually don’t have to think for very long. It’s because deep down, he’s also a practiced glutton.
I still remember our very first date. I took him for my favourite pad thai in Sydney’s Newtown, and our second date? He took me for his favourite pad thai, but of course, mine was better (duh). It’s always been about food between us, and even though he really is a preposterous health freak now, he does have one cheat day a week and boy, do I look forward to those (probably more than he does).
Aside from cheat days, we find any plausible excuse to eat, for example his birthday which was like, what a month ago? We went to Hibiscus, which by the way makes this year’s top 50 restaurants! and now, three weeks on he was like, hey should I have another birthday meal? I nod. Ok, let’s go to Le Café Anglais. I nod again.
This is how we work.
So last Saturday, we roped one of his mates in to going to lunch with us and arrived at the gloriously sun-lit dining room of Le Café Anglais in Bayswater. Sort of attached to a shopping centre and sort of on a street, you’d be forgiven for missing it at street level but once inside, its cheery interior will put a smile on your face. Or maybe it was because last weekend was awesomely sunny. Maybe it’s just depressing normally. I’ll never know.
I started by playing with the baby radish (cute!!) and Panu started with a bloody mary, which I think he said was bloody disgusting but I’m pretty sure that’s not the drink’s fault. I stuck to sparkling water because… I can’t actually remember why.
Food! Starters included an hors d’œuvre of salt cod brandade with olives which apparently tasted nothing like salt cod but was scrumptious nonetheless. I had the country pâté with toast and pickled red cabbage. The pâté was very meaty and delicious, but why, why do they never give enough toast with these things?
Panu opted for the blinis with gravadlax (except they didn’t have gravadlax but substituted with smoked salmon instead), beetroot and sour cream. This starter was like a main and a half. Not only were the blinis on steroids, the plate would easily pass as a main course. In any case no complaints, Panu loved it but would have maybe loved it some more if they actually had gravadlax.
Time for mains and I totally caned the boys’ butts with my breast of duck. I mean just look at it… that’s a decent serve of Daffy right there, and yes it’s got to be Daffy because I don’t like Donald enough to eat him. The duck was tender, with the obligatory thread of fat adding a flavoursome kick. The duck also came with a side of potato bake and a herby, garlicy mush which was all very yum in my books.
Panu had glorified fish and chips which was also good, as far as fish and chips (without chips) goes. A decently meaty slice of haddock, fried lightly and served with a lightly spiced and tasty tartare sauce.
Our buddy Michael chose the saddle of spring lamb. I think he wanted duck but I didn’t let him copy me because I’m mature like that. He said the lamb was good, and again it came with a side of ‘taters, which went nicely with our additional sides of spring green with garlic and creamed spinach.
While we were perusing the menu for starters and mains, I’d already had my dessert all picked out. Grilled pineapple with chilli syrup and coconut sorbet. I mean holy crap how awesome does that sound?! Ok, so the 90% of the population who don’t like their pineapples cooked are probably retching at the idea, but for me, grilled pineapple = thumbs up. And chilli in my dessert? Hellz yeah! my dessert was absolutely magnificent. Refreshing, spicy and just plain YUM.
Panu had the cheesecake. If there’s cheesecake on the menu he’s having it and I don’t remember asking either him or Michael how their desserts were because I was so completely engrossed in mine. I think the cheesecake was good though, served with fresh passionfruit, and Michael’s pannacotta with rhubarb was also good but really, how can you go wrong with rhubarb? It’s totally the new black.
One of the main words that comes to my mind when I think about this meal is “hearty”. I don’t know if it was so much as a hearty meal as my brain working in mysterious ways, but the servings were large, the food clean and overall, I left a happy camper.
At about £50 a head for lunch, it’s a pretty hefty price, but overall, the food was worth it, just not sure I can actually afford this every day. Or month.
Le Café Anglais
8 Porchester Gardens
Bayswater, W2 4DB
0207 221 1415