Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Review: Chez Bruce

Like the Venture In in Ombersely, Chez Bruce is also housed in a building with history. Years ago, it was occupied by a savage despot who struck fear in those around him. Fist fights were common, neanderthal brawling almost the norm. The year was 1988 and Marco Pierre White was in the kitchen of Harveys.

These days the atmosphere in this Wandsworth restaurant is far more tranquil. Chez Bruce has occupied the site since 1995 and despite the lack of controversy and tabloid headlines, it has maintained a reputation for superior cuisine which its predecessor Harveys had initiated on the site. True, it hasn't reached the three Michelin star heights that Marco achieved, but its one star is testament to the quality of cooking in what is essentially a local, neighbourhood restaurant.

Last week we returned to Chez Bruce after a gap of over 6 years. The last time we went we'd probably had a few too many aperatifs before dinner so consequently didn't manage to appreciate the great food that was put before us. Such a shame. This time though, we were determined to savour every mouthful and we weren't disappointed. It was also inspiring to learn that the kitchen at Chez Bruce is now in the hands of a Leiths graduate, and who knows, when I finish my diploma perhaps I could aspire to such heights.

Despite trying to choose different starters, we were both drawn to a gratin of spatzle, chestnuts,and wild hare. Chief Taster was nostalgic for her childhood in Germany and so was desperate for the little noodle dumplings which I had never tried before. I was eager for something meaty before my fish main course and the gamey hare was the perfect option.

Our mains were terrific. Having regretted not ordering fish at the Venture In, I plumped for halibut with scallops, potato gnocchi and jerusalem artichoke puree. It was out of this world and surprisingly lifted by a fairly meaty sauce. Emilie followed her hare starter with more game. Her main of Anjou pigeon with red cabbage, sauce poivrade, honey, walnuts and foie gras was wintery perfection, the perfect plate of food to send you off into four months of hibernation with a grin on the face. I'm a big fan of the concept of hibernation and may start a campaign for human equality with hedgehogs. I hope one day to watch Blue Peter and see humans wrapped in straw and packed away in boxes for the winter. Basically I just want to sleep for a few months, avoid Christmas, and get up when its warm again.

I love Chez Bruce like I love Chapter One in Bromley. Both are worthy of their Michelin stars and both have that unpretentiousness that sets neighbourhood restaurants apart from their snooty west end brethren. Hopefully it will not be another 6 years before we are back in Wandsworth.


Claire said...

Hey! I was wondering how your course at Leiths was going? I am considering doing it when I come back from traveling.

Pete said...

Hi Claire,

The course doesn't start until 7th January so I still have a few weeks to go yet. How was your time at Delicious?


Claire said...

Ohh I didn't recieve an alert that you'd replied! Delicious was fab, they are a lovely lovely team!

I had an interview with Caroline yesterday and I think I'd rather join the January semester, I've never jointed a chicken before but I'd rather teach myself! It's all pretty costly! The career opportunities look amazing, what are you planning on doing with your diploma once you've got it? x

Pete said...

yeah, it is seriously expensive. I sent my cheque off this week, ouch! Do you mean you are thinking of joining the January 09 course?

To be honest I haven't decided what area to focus on after the course. I'll see which areas interest me and go fro there.

Lizzie said...

I love Chapter One in Bromley too - but I've heard that they lost their star recently.