Le Garrick – French feasting in Covent Garden
Le Garrick is utterly and unapologetically French. I was greeted with a bonjour and flick of the wrist, led into an alcove, sat down to Parisian melodies floating through the air, and subsequently felt transported almost into another dimension. The feeling was similar to attending Secret Cinema’s Moulin Rouge a few weeks ago, where the immersive setup made me feel as though I was in 1920s Paris. And although there were far fewer (read: no) cabaret dancers in Le Garrick, the food more than made up for it.
It reminded me a little of Brasserie Zedel, with a similarly laid out menu and classic French dishes, but the atmosphere was far more intimate. My friend and I were at a round table, nestled into a nook (or was it a cranny?), with vintage posters lining the walls, and there was a soft murmuring around us that slowly turned into white noise. The entire restaurant had been recently redone, and it now boasts more space, light, and new fittings to boot (including some gorgeous chandeliers).
With the entire setup being so utterly français, we couldn’t resist ordering the day’s special to start: frogs’ legs. I’ve had them once before (in Paris), and I was enchanted yet again. The sauce had an Asian twist, which always wins me over, and it was the only thing we ordered that didn’t feel as though it had been drop-lifted straight from the Champs-Elysées.
To make up for that, our other starter, the assiette de charcuterie, was as French as could be: a board covered in cured meats and pate, served with crusty bread. I normally hesitate to order a cured meats platter, as I don’t see the value in it, but at £9.50 this was a very good deal, particularly considering the generous size of the portion. My favourite was the salami, but I revelled in each of the four cured meats!
The wine list was nothing short of extensive, and after some deliberation, we chose a Sancerre, which is one of Daddy Swindian’s favourites (my wine knowledge is extremely sparse, so it’s always helpful when I remember what he likes!).
With our stomachs sufficiently warmed up, it was time for the mains. I chose the confit de canard, as I never pass up a chance to partake of this fine animal, and I did not regret my choice. The meat simply fell off the bone, and the beans were perfectly tender (although I was not a big fan of the mint flavour). I was also very happy with my decision to order frites on the side, as they were as slender and crispy as a sunburnt supermodel.
My friend went for the lamb and beef burger with blue cheese, and although she proclaimed the cheese as being a touch too strong, she decided that the meat was better than Zedel. Reluctantly, because it had likely been her favourite restaurant in London. Until now!
Then, to the decadent desserts. We asked for a recommendation, and the manager immediately told us to choose the lemon tart. ‘It’s the best in London’, he proclaimed. ‘You’ve tried them all?’ He chuckled. ‘I don’t need to.’
I haven’t tried them all, but this one was certainly amazing. With a zesty sharpness throughout, and an almost cheesecakey texture, I loved how it wasn’t overly sweet. Upon probing, we were told ‘It’s not like in France, because the way it is there… people here won’t like it. We adapted it for the British people.’ Well, whatever they did, it worked.
We then also indulged in the chocolate pot, which was incredibly rich and oh so delectable. Our bellies well and truly full, we were glad to have a little digestif of eau de vie de poire – literally water of life of pear. Sounds odd. But it worked.
Whilst it’s hard to beat Brasserie Zedel’s incredible value set menu (£9.75 vs £13.50), Le Garrick outperformed it in many other ways. The large portions were supremely satisfying, the service is familial and French, and the food is damn delicious. Zedel is gorgeous, but can often feel too swift and efficient, without the charm of a smaller establishment. Le Garrick is perfect for a catchup with friends, a date, or even a place to take the parents (and you can pay, as it won’t break the bank!). Located in the heart of the West End, it’s easy to reach, and make sure you save space for that lemon tart…
I was a guest at Le Garrick, but as always, all opinions are my own.