Le Garrick restaurant and wine bar is conveniently located in the heart of Covent Garden in London’s West End. I am no stranger here even though this neighbourhood has a wealth of restaurants of every culinary hue. It’s a timeless treasure and became one of my favourite restaurants after that very first visit. As I said before – I am almost loathe to promote it, for fear I won’t get a table next time.
Le Garrick is that rare restaurant which exudes accessible charm, offering classic food and service with a smile. It’s like visiting your very favourite French auntie who might once have been an actress. The best cooking, Gallic style, and some theatrical sparkle. Granted, that auntie has her dining room in her basement, but that adds so much cosy intimacy. Brick walls, earth tones, low lights would make this the perfect ‘first-date’ venue for those with sophistication and élan.
It’s unsurprisingly a traditional French menu, with a host of classics to tempt Francophiles or anyone with a passion for well executed dishes; but we were salivating for steak – and there is one in particular that is celebrated here. But first there was a starter.
Fondue de “Vacherin” pour deux – cheese fondue cooked with white wine and chives – must be a signature dish here, although it’s truthfully best described as a signature box, for that’s exactly what it is. One might have a vision of a fondue pot complete with burner arriving for some DIY culinary action but here it’s somewhat different. Vacherin is a soft, rich cheese made from cow’s milk and usually in the Jura region of France. It is sold in round boxes made of spruce and this fondue is actually cooked and served in its original box. Nothing needed as garnish apart from baskets of bread for dipping. The title mentions ‘pour deux’ and this truly is a starter for sharing, as there is a magnificent main dish to follow!
Entrecôte grillée sauce au poivre ou béarnaise is a feast for any carnivore with a huge appetite, but also makes a great meal for two discerning diners when a couple of side dishes are added. This is a simply and correctly presented 14oz chargrilled 28-day hung rib-eye steak on the bone, with fries and peppercorn or béarnaise sauce. This is the meal that those returning from a stay in France will crave. It’s not fiddled with. Its natural flavour isn’t camouflaged with gastronomic ornamentation. This is just likely to be one of the best Entrecôtes you will ever have. For those with a hankering for a less hefty steak then there is Faux Filet, although even that is a substantial slab of succulent meat. This is a standard dish of steak and chips but it’s hard to beat when done well.
But it’s not only steak on the menu here. I can attest to the quality of some other items, for example Escargots de Bourgogne – Six Burgundy snails without shells cooked in garlic and parsley butter, as a starter. The menu says these are a ’must try!’ and they really are. Cassolette de calamar à la plancha au piment d’Espelette is a plate of pan-seared calamari Basque-style with a sprinkle of coriander, ginger, and the famous Espelette chilli from the Basque region of France.
Le Garrick offers Cassoulet de Toulouse which is the iconic dish from south-west France. Lingot beans with duck confit, pork belly and garlicky Toulouse sausage make a substantial plateful. Perfect for a tummy-filling treat of savoury comfort.
The wine list here is solid and sensible. A great selection of wines by the glass, bottle or carafe so it’s easy to make a decent wine pairing even at lunchtime when a full bottle might not support a productive afternoon back at the office.
Those with a sweet tooth are not forgotten at Le Garrick. I can recommend Crème brulée, tangy Tarte au citron – lemon tart with crème fraiche and raspberry coulis – and the Petit pot au chocolat – a decadent chocolate mousse. Can’t make up your mind? Then order Café Gourmand which is a selection of three little desserts along with coffee or tea.
Le Garrick won my heart a while back and I remain smitten. Yes, it’s a matter of taste but this bijou establishment is just right for me. Food, wine, individual style and a warm welcome keep me returning.
Le Garrick Restaurant
10-12 Garrick Street
Phone: 020 7240 7649
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018