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Posts Tagged ‘London Daytrips’

Cowley Manor, viewed from the garden

Because Jon has spent most of this summer training for his Channel swim (which he and his team completed in 12h 45 mins while also raising £13,000+ for charity – well done, no?), we haven’t taken any holiday yet this summer.

Channel swim over, he and I spent last weekend in the Cotswolds, where we treated ourselves to a stay at Cowley Manor. Longtime followers of this blog (hi, Mom and Dad!) will remember that last spring, Jon and I visited Barnsley House, which is a nearby competitor of Cowley Manor’s.  So the title of this post could really be “Face Off: Cowley Manor vs. Barnsley House,” except that I’m not that dramatic.

In case you find yourself in the enviable position of deciding which luxury spa hotel to choose for your next trip to the Cotswolds, here are my thoughts on the two, with the caveat that it’s been over a year since I was at Barnsley House:

"good" room at the Cowley Manor

Jon and I chose a “good room” for £250/night, which is the cheapest category of rooms at Cowley Manor.  In other words, presumably the rooms get only nicer from here.

Our room was large and comfortable, but I was disappointed that the decor wasn’t half as modern chic as that of the rest of the house.  The overall effect was still very Dark Wood Paneling, and the bright, stunning bathroom we had at Barnsley House beat that of our Cowley room by a mile.  We had a lovely view of the Cowley Manor grounds, though.

snow pea leaves, asparagus and poached egg

roast duck breast and rosti

Dinner at Cowley Manor Restaurant was disappointing.  First, all our dishes were under-seasoned (though happily the restaurant leaves sea salt on every table, so you can DIY season).  Second, the poached egg in my starter was cooked for so long that the egg yolk was chalky rather than my beloved runny.  Third and least appealingly, roast duck breast was chewy and flavorless, perhaps as a result of its long acquaintance with a heat lamp.

We did, however, love our side order of chips, so next time we’ll probably stick to eating in the casual bar area of the manor.  Or we’ll walk the half mile to the nearby pub, the Green Dragon.

The restaurant dining room was attractive and had views of the garden, and gracious, attentive service.  But with our two starters, two mains and modest bottle of wine costing £100, I expected much better.

smoked salmon eggs benedict (brekkie included in room rates)

Breakfast is included in the room rate, and Cowley Manor’s spread was generous and good quality.  The fruit salad was packed with exotic fruits that tasted as good as they looked, and the croissants were ultra-flaky and buttery.  Hot dishes could be custom ordered, and I couldn’t resist the siren call of eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of ham.  The egg yolks turned out soft boiled rather than runny, but the zippy hollandaise redeemed everything.    Overall, a better breakfast than at Barnsley House, which charged extra for hot dishes despite room rates being higher than those at Cowley.

picnic hamper (£45)

For £45, the kitchen will prepare a wicker picnic hamper for two and set up lunch anywhere on the manor’s gorgeous grounds.  Doing this was a lot of fun, and there was enough food for four in our hamper, so next time we’ll bring friends.  What the above photo fails to capture are the cheeses, lemon drizzle cake and berries that were also part of our hamper.

indoor pool at Cowley Manor spa

And here’s where Cowley Manor really shines and surpasses Barnsley House:  the spa.  Cowley, being a bigger place than Barnsley House, has a beautiful, large spa discreetly tucked away behind the main building.  There’s an indoor and outdoor pool, and even at busy times of day (i.e., a weekend afternoon), the atmosphere is relaxing.

outdoor pool at Cowley Manor spa

Jon and I treated ourselves to lengthy and excellent spa treatments and then whiled away a few hours poolside.  The spa staff, like everyone else we encountered at Cowley Manor, were friendly and attentive.

Overall, Barnsley House’s food, privacy and guest rooms were more appealing than those of Cowley Manor, but Cowley Manor’s spa facilities, first-rate staff and impressive-and-beautiful gardens leave me wanting to return to Cowley Manor before I’d go back to Barnsley House.

Which means this is the first time I’m choosing a getaway spot based on criteria other than food.  If CM’s restaurant improved a bit, the place would be perfect.

A “good room” (the least expensive category) at Cowley Manor was £250/night, which includes breakfast.

Cowley Manor, Cowley, Gloucestershire, GL53 9NL; (0)1242 870 900; reachable via First Great Western train from Paddington Station to Kemble Station (1.5 hours or less depending on whether you have to switch in Swindon). Then a 30-minute taxi ride costing £28 – £35 each way.

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La Grenouillere, Montreuil, France

Poor Pas de Calais.  Up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t question its commonly-held reputation as a pass-through to Paris or as a destination for an alcohol run.

Happily, Jon’s rellies invited us to their weekend home in Montreuil-sur-Mer so we could appreciate the charms of a pretty French village located two hours by train and car from London.

Montreuil-sur-Mer has many charms, but the star attraction in my book is Alexandre Gauthier‘s one-Michelin-starred restaurant, La Grenouillere, located just outside the town walls in La Madeleine-sous-Montreuil.

rice flour chips

The restaurant-inn is built around an idyllic courtyard that was perfect for outdoor aperos.  Pretty as the setting was, things got off to a rocky start with the rice flour “chips” that were served while we looked at the menu — they were hot and crispy (plus) but sadly stale-tasting (minus).

Our hosts, who’d been to La Grenouillere before, directed us towards the menu decouverte at 95 euros a person, and we moved inside for dinner.

cucumber, green strawberries and basil

John Dory, artichoke hearts and grilled garlic

Once seated, our dinner started with a series of carefully-constructed courses that would be at home in any 2-Michelin-star restaurant:   creative, attractive and tasty, and I’m giving all of them short shrift because of the three courses that arrived towards the end of the meal.  Three courses that were mind-blowingly good.

roast lobster tail hidden in a burning (Juniper) bush

roast lobster tail revealed

Our server entered the room trailing smoke.  He was carrying a tray of what appeared to be pine-tree branches on fire.  Theatrical to the nth degree.  What saved the course from gimmick was its sheer deliciousness.  This was the best hot lobster dish of my life.  Sweet, intensely smoky, juicy.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.  And to top it all off, we had to eat with our hands.  It turns out that eating lobster tail with your hands is both sexy and fun.  Our table couldn’t help laughing and smiling.

lobster claw soup

Waste not, want not.  Our next course was lobster soup packed with lobster claw meat and perfumed with sharp, stinky cheese foam.  If you understand the appeal of Cheez-Its, you’ll begin to understand what made this soup so irresistible.

flash grilled steak, thinly sliced, served with morels

And as if two memorably delicious courses weren’t enough, our meat course was yet another tour de force:  “ferré, mauvaises herbes,” which I translate as “rails, with weeds.”  Served tableside were thin slices of perfectly-rare steak somehow flash grilled with an intense smoky flavor.  How it looked and tasted so gorgeously grilled while staying silky and juicy is a mystery.

"jam and toast"

Steak course over, we went back to the merely clever, tasty and beautiful.  Jam and toast in haute couture form.

sorrel ice cream in a broken "glass"

“Bulle d’oseille” (bubble sorrel) was a highly amusing and whimsical palate cleanser.  I’d hate to ruin the game, but I will say that it’s worth ducking for cover when this course arrives.

the surprise ending (no spoiler here)

The ultimate surprise was the petit four.  Mum’s the word.

Dinner at La Grenouillere was delicious and fun.  It’s easy to become jaded when you eat out so often, and for a few hours, La Grenouillere brought back the wonder and joy of eating someplace special and new.  So plan a weekend away and see what Monsieur Gauthier is up to in Montreuil.

  • Menu decouverte (includes two lobster courses): 95 euros
  • Menu degustation (without the lobster courses): 75 euros [but really, you’d be missing the point if you skipped the lobster courses]
  • a la carte: 30-euro starters, 45-euro mains

La Grenouillere, La Madeleine-sous-Montreuil 62170 France; +33 (0)21 06 07 22; Eurostar runs several daily trains to Calais (a one-hour ride from St. Pancras) and then it’s a 50-minute drive south; alternatively, it’s a nice stop on the way from Paris to England, 2.5 hours northwest of Paris.

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Whitstable Oyster Fishery Restaurant

 

A week ago, summer had finally arrived in London, as had my parents, in town for a week-long visit. So Jon and I thought we’d take a day trip to Canterbury with a lunch break at nearby Whitstable.

Things were off to a good start on the high-speed train from St. Pancras to Canterbury West, which ran on the Eurostar tracks for much of the journey, took just under an hour, and cost only £55 for four return tickets.

Canterbury was warm and sunny, and it was an easy 15-minute walk to the Cathedral, which turned out to be the only thing in town really worth seeing. The Tourist Information office across the street from the Cathedral entrance provided great maps to both Canterbury and Whitstable, as well as a list of the cycle shops (two) in town where we could rent bicycles. Both shops were sold out, so instead of cycling the 7 miles to Whitstable along the charmingly-named Crab & Winkle Way, we took a 30-minute, super-slow ride on the bus.

Unsurprisingly, the Michelin-starred Sportsman in Whitstable was fully booked for lunch that day, so instead we ended up at the lively Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company.

Pros: The Whitstable Oyster Fishery’s dining rooms are high-ceilinged, bright, and cheerfully rustic. There are views of the sea, and the seafood, generally, tasted fresh and was served in generous portions.

Cons: The service was extraordinarily slow. We waited 35 minutes for our starters to arrive, and another 45 minutes for our mains. And despite several repeat requests for tap water, water was not forthcoming. Apparently the easygoing pace of seaside living is not for me.

 

grilled king prawns (£9)

 

 

fried calamari (£8.50)

 

Starters of mussels mariniere (£9.50), grilled king prawns, and fried calamari were all very good. The prawns in particular reminded me of Barrafina‘s sweet-tasting giants and were well worth the £9 for two. The leftover melted garlic butter served with the prawns was my favorite for sopping up with bread, though my dad thought the mariniere sauce had the edge.

 

fish and chips (£16-ish)

 

Fish and chips were a mixed result: the cod was silky firm and gorgeously flaky, and the batter was light and golden. The mushy peas actually tasted like peas – sweet and smooth – but the chips were a stale-tasting letdown.

 

pan-fried skate (£17.50)

 

 

whole lobster (£24)

 

Jon’s skate was sadly thin and meagre, but he enjoyed what little meat there was. Being environment killers, my mom and I split the steamed lobster imported from Canada, which was served cold. The meat was a bit mealy and the accompanying minted potato salad tasted overwhelmingly of mint (not good), but that’s what I get for ordering something that comes from Canada.

With various beers and lemonades, our total for four was £112, which was fair for the overall quality of the seafood and the scenic environs, but a bit steep for the incredible slowness and unhelpfulness of the service.

After lunch, we took a quick walk around Whitstable harbour, which, sadly, is not attractive. Not only is the harbour crowded with industrial machines and boats, but also the nearby beaches are of the stony variety. So we quickly returned to Canterbury to pay our £8 each to see the famous cathedral and hopped back on the train to London.

Overall, a pleasant day trip out of London, but I wouldn’t return to the area without (a) reserving a table at the Sportsman and (b) reserving a bicycle to try out the Crab & Winkle Way.

Whitstable Oyster Fishery Restaurant, Horsebridge Road, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1AF; 01227 276 856.

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Barnsley House, near Cirencester, in the Cotswolds

Barnsley House, near Cirencester, in the Cotswolds

Jon and I had to turn in our passports this month to change our visa status (just in case either of us gets fired, we don’t want to be deported), so for all of March, we couldn’t leave the country. As consolation for not being able to travel (and taking advantage of the recent good fortune of sunny weekends), we decided it was high time to visit the Cotswolds. Sure we’ve been to Bath a few times, but a true Cotswolds getaway seems to involve an old country pile somewhere. And that’s where the Barnsley House comes in.

Generally when Jon and I travel on holiday, we don’t stay in luxe accommodations, figuring it’s a waste of money because we’re out and about so much. But when Jon mentioned Barnsley House’s fabulous spa facilities, tasty-sounding restaurant, and a current promotion of weekend rooms at £362 a night (including breakfast and dinner for the two-night minimum stay), I didn’t need to be asked twice.

We arrived on Friday night, after a 1.5-hour train ride from Paddington, followed by a 20-minute taxi ride from Kemble station.

house champers and truffles upon arrival

house champers and truffles upon arrival

Upon arrival, a receptionist immediately walked us up to our room, showed Jon how all the Bose and Bang & Olufson equipment worked while I filled out credit card details on a simple form, and then left us to relax over a free bottle of house champers. We could’ve been arriving at a friend’s house, rather than checking into a hotel. A strong start.

ooh and ahh-worthy bathroom

Part of the reason we decided to spend the weekend at Barnsley House instead of at nearby competitor Cowley Manor is because we’d read excellent things about the food. So after loafing around in our enormous room and oohing and ahhing like hicks over our stupendous bathroom, we walked downstairs for dinner.

roasted pork loin with honeyed prawn

roasted pork loin with honeyed prawn

Dinner at the Barnsley House is prix fixe only. 3 courses for £42.50 or 4 for £49.50. There’s lots to choose from, and having eaten in the resto both nights of our stay, I was interested in how the kitchen managed to evolve the menu from one day to the next. What was pork loin one day was pork belly and crackling the next. I’d like to imagine that over the next few days, you’d see pork shoulder, pork head, pork trotter . . . .

Much of the veg on the menu is grown in the house gardens, and all the meat comes from local producers.

Did you know Liz Hurley raises pigs? I didn’t. It does seem a bit ironic, don’t you think? But her country getaway lies just behind the Barnsley House, and how could I resist the “organic Hurley loin of pork with red onions and honeyed tiger prawns”? It was good meat – juicy and rich, with a crisp, delicate, salty crackling. A thing of beauty. The tiger prawn was besides the point (and by the way, there was only one prawn, so why the menu said “tiger prawns” is beyond me).

Jon tried out the signature vincisgrassi, which the menu described as “baked pasta with Parma ham, porcini and truffles.” It was tasty, but to our perhaps-slightly-unappreciative eye, it looked and tasted like lasagna. A really creamy, good lasagna, but still, lasagna.

a view of the garden from the restaurant

a view of the garden from the restaurant

While the food is pretty ambitious and well-executed, it’s not destination dining, and the food shares the spotlight with the dining room, which overlooks the House’s famous Rosemary Verey gardens. The room looked its best in the morning, when the sun brightened and warmed the generously-spaced tables. (You really can pretend like you have full run of the place – the Barnsley House is about the luxury of privacy and space).

pot roast chicken with parma ham at the Village Pub

pot roast chicken drumstick with parma ham at the Village Pub (£16)

For a change of scenery, we walked 100 yards down the street from Barnsley House for lunch at the Village Pub, which is also owned and operated by the Barnsley House. While we did recognize a few other Barnsley House guests there at lunchtime, the place seemed to be popular with locals, too. The food, though, was hit-or-miss, and Jon’s mediocre £16 chicken drumstick was pretty ridiculous. Service was also an issue – we waited over half an hour for our starters, which were a curried parsnip soup and a potted pork. Not exactly stuff that needed intensive effort before serving. It was hard to believe the Village Pub and the Barnsley House were related at all.

Overall, we had a delicious, relaxing weekend at the Barnsley House. It’s one of those places where all the components (service, decor, food, spa facilities), each taken alone, are at a high level, and combined, are unforgettable. We saw our final tab double the promotion price once we factored in wines at dinner, lunches, and (really wonderful) spa treatments. Incredibly enough, though, I thought our weekend was worth every penny.

As stated above, Jon and I took advantage of a promotion for rooms at £362 a night (including breakfast and dinner for the two-night minimum stay).  However, on the Barnsley House website, it says if you stay on a weeknight, the price is reduced to £185 a night. Worth taking a day off from work, I tell you.

Barnsley House, Barnsley, Circencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5EE; 01285 740000; closest rail station: Kemble (from London Paddington), followed by a 20-minute, £20 taxi ride.

The Village Pub, Barnsley, Circencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5EF; 01285 740421.

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potato leek soup at the Marlborough Tavern

potato leek soup at the Marlborough Tavern

Last Saturday, Jon and I were in Bath for an afternoon of R&R at the Thermae Spa, and to fortify ourselves for the tough task of undergoing spa treatments and lounging in the steam room and pools, we needed lunch.

Despite its mention in the 2009 Michelin Guide, The Marlborough Tavern didn’t make a good first impression. Like most buildings in Bath, the Tavern’s stone exterior looked stark and forbidding in the cold, winter gray. But once we were inside, servers were welcoming, and the fireplace warming.

The menu choices were limited (i.e., a burger, a terrine, specials of the day and lots of sandwiches). But everything we tried showed a lot of care and attention to detail. And I much prefer a place that does a few things well, rather than a lot of things poorly.

My soup-of-the-day was a potato-leek with a suspiciously-dark-brown color. I’m guessing they caramelized the leeks to get it that brown, but however it was made, the soup was rich and creamy.  Homemade garlic croutons and lots of minced chives were attractive and tasty finishing touches.

veal stew

veal stew

Jon’s veal stew was hot, fork-tender, but I thought my chorizo-and-pepper sandwich was the high point of our lunch.

I’d expected a Brindisa-style grilled whole sausage slapped onto a roll, but despite the pedestrian appearance of the Marlborough’s version, the sandwich was delish. The bun was toasted; the chorizo was grilled and thinly sliced in neat-to-eat layers. The baby/microsprouts salad on the side added color, crunch and lightness.

chorizo sandwich

chorizo sandwich

Most mains on the menu were £8-10, and I loved the pot of fragrant English Breakfast for £1.50. Our tab for two mains, a starter and drinks totaled £30 after service.

Thermae Spa

Thermae Spa

And then the rest of our day at the Thermae Spa was exactly what we needed. It’s been almost a year and a half since our first trip to the Thermae Spa, and I was glad to see things were still as clean and luxurious as I remembered, especially when you consider the high volume of visitors the Spa receives. I love the Thermae’s spaciousness and the fact that all the water is thermal (it eases my liberal-environmental guilt).

If it weren’t a two-hour train ride to Bath, I’d be down there more often.  Especially during these cold, gloomy months.

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Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey

Soon after my friend made our reservations at Petersham Nurseries Cafe (you have to call about a month in advance), I saw that New Yorker in London had popped over and enjoyed it, which was encouraging, but I still had a few weeks to wait patiently.

Last weekend, our day finally arrived, and – what a perk – the day was crisp and sunny. I was in a good mood just walking through Richmond High Street, along the Thames and through the meadows. I thought “it just couldn’t be prettier than this,” but actually, I was wrong. The Petersham Nurseries is, in fact, even prettier than the walk it takes to get there. Eggbeater said it best when she called the place “a food stylist’s dream and a museum curator’s fantasy.” This is no Home Depot Garden Center. Petersham Nurseries is so achingly charming that the high prices in the cafe are easier to swallow if you figure you’re paying partly for the ambiance.

Farinata, speck and pecorino salad

Farinata, speck and pecorino salad

The menu changes almost daily, and there’s not a lot to choose from. Three sections: starters, mains and desserts. Only four options in each section, but what fab options they were!

I loved my starter – a salad with farinata, speck and pecorino. Farinata, I learned, is just another name for my beloved Riviera friend, socca – a crispy chickpea-flour pancake. Shards of farinata served hot with the salad added nice texture and warmth to the luscious fatty-salty speck, and creamy, dry pecorino. The only downside to my salad was its hefty pricetag: £11, but my salad was a steal compared to the *yawn* pumpkin ravioli my three dining companions ordered.

roasted guinea fowl with grilled radicchio and balsamic mayonnaise

roasted guinea fowl with grilled radicchio and balsamic mayonnaise

Mains were a highlight. Our server highly recommended the guinea fowl, which she said she’d just had for lunch, and she was spot on. The skin was beautifully crisped, the meat was firm, juicy and rich. The creamy, sweet balsamic mayo blended and balanced perfectly with the radicchio’s smoky bitterness. So simple, but fresh and well-executed. Worth the £21.

monkfish curry with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and bhatura

monkfish curry with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and bhatura

Jon’s monkfish curry had sounded out of place on the otherwise English-classics menu (so I was skeptical the kitchen would pull it off) but what came to the table was light and tasty. More Mediterranean than Thai. There was only the slightest hint of coconut in the sauce, and we learned the chef was on a chickpea kick, because the bhatura turned out to be more crispy chickpea flour.

baked ricotta with olive and tomato crush

baked ricotta with olive and tomato crush

My friend’s baked ricott was so simple and genius that I can’t wait to buy some good stuff from the cheese guy at next Sunday’s farmer’s market and try it myself. If you’d written off ricotta as bland, then I’d recommend trying the Petersham Nurseries version. It was so intense that it needed the greens and tapenade to tone down the salty-herby-creaminess.

gorgonzola dolce with red wine figs

gorgonzola dolce with red wine figs

And although we were stuffed after our starters and mains, we couldn’t help eyeing the desserts going to tables around us. My gorgonzola dolce was beautiful to look at it, and beautiful to taste. The sweet figs and the creamy, sharp gorgonzola should be married for life.

bread and butter pudding with fresh custard

bread and butter pudding with fresh custard

I didn’t eat the bread pudding or the mousse pictured below, but only because my friends gobbled them down faster than I could reach their plates to steal some. I will say, though, that I could smell the vanilla and cinnamon on the bread pudding, and no wonder – there were specks of vanilla pod in there. Quality goods.

chocolate mousse with ginger caramel

chocolate mousse with ginger caramel

Our meal, even without wine, was not cheap. Starters were £10-11; mains were £20-27; and desserts £7-8. We enjoyed a refreshing pitcher of mint-elderflower lemonade, and our tab came to £45 a person before service.

While I definitely see Andy Hayler’s point about the Cafe’s prices being high for a “garden centre cafe,” I think Petersham Nurseries is a unique place. Special enough that it’s not just a garden cafe. The high-quality ingredients in our lunch were carefully prepared and presented; the surroundings are cheerful and charming, and the service – while, as usual in London, understaffed – was helpful and friendly. I had a wonderful time and would love to bring back friends, especially those from out of town. Petersham Nurseries was, for me, quintessentially country English, so I’ll think of a trip there as something like going to the Tower of London – except a much better deal.

Petersham Nurseries Cafe, off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey; 0208 605 3627; closest tube station: Richmond (and then it’s still a 20-minute walk to Petersham Nurseries, so bring your walking shoes. Apparently you can also take a bus from Richmond station.)
Petersham Nurseries Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Le Cassoulet, Croydon

Le Cassoulet, Croydon

Jon and I eat out often with friends, but we try to set aside Friday nights as “date night” to make sure we get some alone time. Continuing with my French kick, last week’s date night destination was Le Cassoulet in South Croydon, and we certainly had lots of bonding time getting there and back.

You’d think that having returned from Paris recently that we’d be French fooded out, but you’d be wrong. Now that darkness comes at 4 pm, a hearty cassoulet is just the thing to make me happy.

In Time Out‘s 2008 Eating and Drinking Awards, Le Cassoulet won the title of Best Local Restaurant, which, now that I’ve been there, seems to mean that the food, decor, service and prices are excellent, but it’s just such a schlepp to get there that it’s not a destination restaurant. It’s a 30-minute train ride from London Bridge station to South Croydon, and then a 5-minute walk to the restaurant, which doesn’t sound bad until you factor in having to look up train times, get to the train station, buy tickets, wait for the train, etc. [Yes, I’m a center-city brat who will never live in the ‘burbs if I can help it.]

potted ham at Le Cassoulet

potted ham at Le Cassoulet

We sat down on cushy banquette seats and eyed our neighbors’ dishes. Portions looked big, so we shared a starter – potted ham hock (£6). It didn’t have the creamy pate-style texture I was craving, but the deep-pink ham bits were salty and meaty, so I was happy. The dijon-dressed gherkins and radishes added color, texture and tang. The only thing missing was an extra slice of toast.

the signature dish at Le Cassoulet

signature dish at Le Cassoulet

The cassoulet was super star thanks to the white beans, which were creamy and fork-tender without having turned into mush. And of course they absorbed all the meaty juices from the generous duck confit shreds, garlicky sausage and rich pork-belly pieces. A vegetarian nightmare, but my dream come true on a winter’s night.

Rib eye steak (cote de boeuf) with bearnaise sauce

Rib eye steak (cote de boeuf) with bearnaise sauce

And what self-respecting bistro would fail to offer a steak frites? Le Cassoulet’s rib eye was rare and dripping with meat juice. Well-marbled and no gristly bits. I haven’t had a better steak in London. Certainly not for less for £18.

I had a great time at Le Cassoulet. The food was classic and comforting, and many wines were available by the glass or carafe. Service was attentive and friendly, and tap water was no problem. If Le Cassoulet were in central London, I’d be planning to eat there every day. But because it’s in South Croydon, I’ll probably go there only when seized by a powerful craving for top-notch cassoulet.  Of course if someone has ideas on what else to do in South Croydon, I’m all ears.

Most appetizers were £6-8, and mains were £15-18. Our tab with a carafe of wine and a forgettable side dish came to £70.

Le Cassoulet, 18 Selsdon Road, Croydon, Surrey, CR2 6PA; 020 8633 1818; closest rail station: South Croydon
Le Cassoulet on Urbanspoon

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