Saturday, 17 October 2009

Want to dine out in London? Go to Teddington!

Teddington is about 4o minutes outside London, and worth every moment of the trip once you find Brasserie Gérard. We ate there tonight, and were both of us - and we're not exactly unfamiliar with good restaurants - stunned by the level of the food and service.

The evening started looking promising when our waiter, Sebastian, asked for particulars about Bernhard's Bloody Mary - heavy on the spice? how much Worcester? - and when we looked at the menu, which contained no less than three versions of mussles: mariniéres, provencal, bretonne. In the end, however, we went with the chateaubriand with new potatoes and bearnaise.

The meat was tender, rosy, and tasted of meat and a touch of charcoal (yes, I'm difficult that way - I don't like my meat ruined with too much spice). The bearnaise was possibly the best I've ever had, and definitely the best I ever had in a restaurant: tarragony, not overly fatty, distinctly onion-y. The salad was nicely varied and subtly flavoured, the beans plain and very well cooked. We choose a red Saint-Emilion to go with it, which complemented the meat very nicely.

For dessert, Bernhard had the cheese platter, which had a spectacular goat's cheese (where are all the subtle goat's cheeses when I go shopping?), and I had the Crépes Suzette, which were orange-flavoured to end all orange-flavour.

Service was attentive, friendly, and very personal. We like this modern-style service where you're actually made to feel like a guest. And we will definitely be back - there's still the mussels to try. And the tajines. And the sole meunière. And the rest of the menu.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Park Road Hotel, Teddington

One of the interesting things about going to London when Bernhard is there is that I get to stay in hotels I'm much too much of a Puritan to stay in on my own. This is one of those, and it has a hotel restaurant in which we both ate on Thursday and where I ate alone of Friday, as Bernhard was out with his colleagues.

Both days were filled with an earnest desire for food and a lack of discrimination; Thursday started with leaving my hostel in Malmö, Sweden, at 4 in the morning, and Friday was spent transcribing German texts in the British Library. In both cases, I rapidly reached the point where I'd eat anchovies and call it good. I hate anchovies.

To our great pleasure, this turned out to be quite a nice hotel restaurant. While it can't hold a candle to Brassierie Gérard, it serves well-cooked English food and does so with friendly service.

Thursday, Bernhard had chicken livers, fish and chips, and a passion fruit creme brulee for dessert. I had a shank of lamb and sticky toffee pudding - unlike most food aficinados, I have a serious liking for British food - so sue me. This place has the sense to cook food without interfering to much: the fish tasted like fish, the lamb like lamb, and flavours were well-mixed and pleasant. On Friday, I had seafood tagliatelle, a glass of pinot grigio, and the creme brulee, painfully aware of how standard a woman-dining-alone-meal this was, and it was all tasty and cheerfully served. While there is also other excellent food to be had in the area, this hotel restaurant is certainly worth eating at.

Bernhard adds: Adding the hotel part into it, with good service at the reception, your bags being carried and a very nice room this certainly qualifies as the best overall Hotel experience I have had.