Chez Bruce

I have wanted to write little restaurant reviews since I opened this blog, but never really got around it. Well… to be perfectly honest – and slightly passive-aggressive – this was supposed to be chipmuncher’s role and he never really ended up doing it! So, here, I’ll do it myself! And the first place I am happy to write about is Chez Bruce, where we went in April (for my birthday).

I had wanted to go to the SW London Michelin starred restaurant for months and had heard only good things about the food there, if some mixed-reviews about the service. So when, on my birthday, chipmuncher announced he had booked a table, I was ecstatic. So much that I immediately twitted about it with enthusiasm (this will be an important information later in the text). We downed our pints of bitter chandi and ran home to get ready for the romantic night out.

Our booking was for 9pm only, so we had plenty of time to get drunk for an aperitive drink on beautiful Wandsworth Common on that cool night of spring. When we finally made our way there, we were warmly welcomed by Chez Bruce’s staff and taken to our table in the buzzy ground floor restaurant room. I hate Michelin star restaurants that are too formal, I’m French and I perfectly understand that food is a serious matter, but for Pete’s sake can we do it in a relaxed atmosphere and without feeling conscious about talking or even chewing?! Well, Chez Bruce is definitely not too formal, attentive staff looking after you, but a relaxed overall feeling and a noisy restaurant with people chatting, laughing and definitely not feeling self-conscious. Brilliant.

I was also pleasantly surprised to notice an artwork by Vincent Poole in the entrance of the restaurant. I like this artist and have met him a few times through work (then chipmuncher said he was probably of the same family as the Chef, Bruce Poole, and I felt a bit silly for not thinking about it myself).We sat at our table and ordered G&T. They were delicious, served with cucumber slices instead of lemon wedges like they do in good eateries. And we dived in the menu, feeling adventurous.

For starters, I had Lamb sweetbreads and tongue with goat’s cheese dumpling, wild garlic pesto and dressed fragola. It was honestly one of the best things I have ever tasted (sorry mum…). Sweetbreads were so tasty and refined, even chipmuncher – who looked disgusted when I explained what they were and when he heard me order tongue – tried it and admitted it was delicious. He ordered Foie gras and chicken liver parfait served on toasted brioche buns and it was delightful too. His favourite was the chicken liver, personally I liked the foie gras more (I’ve never been a fan of chicken liver).

Lamb sweetbreads & tongue

Lamb sweetbreads & tongue

For mains, still feeling adventurous, I had Sauted calf’s liver with potato gnocchi, trotter sausage, sage beurre noisette and red wine. Now, it is pretty weird that this dish caught my eye because I absolutely hate pig’s trotter. Since my tender childhood I have seen my father eat pigs trotters salads (“pieds de porc vinaigrette”, an old French dish – DONT do a Google image search) and I just cannot stand the very strong flavour of that piece of meat. So, it is no surprise that I didn’t enjoy the trotter sausage and left it. Fortunately, all components of the dish had been cooked separately and it didn’t affect the rest of the dish. And the rest of the dish, I thoroughly enjoyed. The calf’s liver was so tender it melted in your mouth, the gnocchi were cooked to perfection, everything was delicious. I can’t remember what chipmuncher had… Will need to check with him and edit the post.

Sauted calf's liver with gnocchi

Sauted calf’s liver with gnocchi

Finally, for dessert, we decided to share a cheese board ( cheese ❤ ) and a sweet pudding. The cheese board was good, with a good standard selection although nothing so exceptional that I still remember… Then came dessert a wonderful Salted caramel and hazelnut tartlet with chocolate ice-cream. It was perfect: light, balanced, not too sweet, ideal to top off a big meal… AND it came with a personalised ‘Happy birthday’ message in chocolate sauce! Our waiter explained that the Chef had read my tweet earlier that day and had given instructions to make the experience even more special. Now, if that’s not amazing service, I don’t know what you need.

Salted caramel & hazelnut tartlet with chocolate ice-cream.

Salted caramel & hazelnut tartlet with chocolate ice-cream.

I was very touched and we left Chez Bruce very full and satisfied but also with the feeling that we had treated ourselves to a truly exceptional food experience overall. It is a Michelin starred restaurant, it is not cheap (count just under £100 / person for a 3 course meal with a bottle of wine + cafes), although still acceptable compared to prices of other London restaurants – some of which are nowhere as good. But the experience was definitely worth it: good atmosphere, refined food, lovely staff and good service.

We will definitely go again.

Address: Chez Bruce, 2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, London SW17 7EG

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