Unfortunately, the first restaurant an old uni friend and I went to was totally utterly rammed. Well, it was 8.30pm on a Friday night so that was hardly surprising. Also unfortunately, his back-up restaurant was also choca. Hmm. I felt like I could see a theme beginning… Luckily, their sister restaurant had spaces so we nipped over to the Bleeding Heart courtyard to their restaurant.
As we ran down the stairs (hungry people don’t walk), the smells hit us and our stomachs growled. FEED ME. Even the beautiful French-accented man who greeted us couldn’t turn my thoughts away from food. If my surroundings hadn’t been so rich and luxurious I would have snatched a piece of cheese off the cheese trolley without a second thought. Luckily, I caught sight of a table of suited, booted and bow-tied men and my internal warning system shouted “STAY AWAY – CHEESE STEALING IS NOT APPROPRIATE!”
Phew. Reached the table, now for some hardcore menu surveillance. Somehow, as soon as we’d sat down, my friend managed to get into a most ridiculous wine conversation with the waiter who proceeded to take him through all the red wines in a most earnest fashion. I think it’s a bloke thing.
To cut a long story short, the food was delish. Our amuse-bouche turned out to be, not a giant bird poo as we’d first thought, but goat’s cheese mousse. I can only assume that my friend’s starter, a white onion soup was good because he pretty much breathed it up in about a minute before his attention to my seafood risotto. “So, you gonna offer me some?” he asked, which I thought a pretty stupid question since everybody knows I don’t give away food, I swap it.. However, as he proved, persistency pays off so he got a mouthful. “Fishy”, he stated.
The piece de resistance was pretty awesome. Chateaubriand of Scottish beef with green beans, pommes pont-neuf (giant chips, bit like jenga pieces) and a mushroom. Oh, and lashing of béarnaise sauce which was so good we had to order more because my fattypotymouse friend ate it all. There were only 2 things that I would comment on – 1. it was more Medium than the Medium Rare we’d asked for and 2. My friend stole one of the morsels I’d set up. Sacrilege.
You’d think we wouldn’t have room for pudding and yes, you’d be right. Sadly, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and before we knew it 2 giant-sized portions of tarte tatin (with the obligatory caramel sauce and ice cream) had landed in front of us. I was defeated after several mouthfuls but my friend soldiered on, evening managing to eat my ice cream.
Oh, I should also mention the wine – it was red, it was something by St. Emilion and I’d have it again.
This is a place to go for business meetings or cosy date nights. It’s by no means cheap but also not break the wallet stuff. It feels a bit like you’re eating in someone’s living room – there’s a fireplace, wooden-panelled walls, bookcases and low ceilings. The wine selection is good (apparently), the service impeccable (even though one over-excited waiter threw a bread roll into my friend’s lap), the food is French and gorgeous and it’s full of interesting looking people. It’s also got a great history, not only does Charles Dickens reference it in ‘Little Dorrit’, the 17th Century beauty Lady Elizabeth Hatton was cruelly murdered by a hunched, claw-handed man who left her still-pumping heart in the courtyard. Pretty grim, huh?
Food: Great for steak
What to wear: A nice dress and heels
Price: Approx £140 for two with wine
Atmosphere: Casual Business-y during the week. Romantic during weekends.
What makes it special? Its history