Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oyster Shucking and Dinner at Le Cafe Anglais

Last week, my trusty foodie sidekick Kanga_Rue and I headed to Le Cafe Anglais in sunny West London just near Bayswater tube for an instructional afternoon as to how to shuck our own oysters. I got to the restaurant just as the boys from Wright Bros Oyster and Porter House at Borough Market were setting up for the impending hoard of hungry mollusk lovers.

Finding us a seat at one of the few tables I waited patiently for Kanga, damned the London Tube and its ability to slow our scoffing down! The crowd was building and I caved to mental peer group pressure and went to have a sneaky sample.

There were four types of oysters on the menu today - Scottish, Irish, English and French. The offerings for topping them were simple and classic - wedges of lemon, red wine vinegar with shallots and also red and/or green Tabasco.

I found the Scottish to be gorgeously meaty, but very salty. The Irish just slid down my throat with barely a quiver of complaint at their fate. The English had quite a brittle shell which I had to pick away from on occasion. And the French (which I had been warned were the saltiest) were actually quite delicate and creamy. Now, to ensure quality control, we did sample them a number of times each, and were certain by the end of the session that they were all fantabulous.

After about 45mins of sliding the delicious bivalves down our gullets, we decided that it was time to have dinner. Kanga had been raring me up all week for one of the restaurant signature dishes - the Parmesan Custard and Anchovy Toast. It was like a little savory creme brulee, cut by the slightly fishy and crunchy toast soldiers. To wash this down we had a tea infused Bayswater Martini by the gorgeous barmen, Robert Voller. Oh.My.God. This was perfect - on the nose you could smell a tea infusion and oranges, and it tasted like the best martini I have possibly ever had (Hussyband would be so jealous as he loves a good martini!)

Now, being that we had kind of scoffed ourselves senseless on the oysters, we decided against our original plan of having mussels for mains. Instead we took chef/proprietor Rowley Leigh's suggestion of the Pike Boudin with Fines Herbes for our starter (we were good girls and shared our courses so we would not get banned from future escapades by our suffering spouses...and we were kinda stuffed as well). This was the most divine little sausage of seafood - almost mousse like in texture, but with a crunchy top where it had been finished, swimming in a sea of happiness...we used our fingers and bread to soak up every drop of sauce (hey we can be classy when we want to but this was too good to waste!)

Our main for the evening was to be the Wood Pigeon with Braised Peas (and a side of Gratin Dauphinois). You can tell when you are eating proper game, when you bits down into a piece of moist tender breast, only to be met with the crunch of shot. I had never tasted pigeon before, and I found it to be quite tasty, Kanga demonstrated the fine art of how to get the meat from every inch of bone...cant wait to see her on frogs legs! The braised peas and jus were perfect foil for the rich meat, and the dauphinois...well, everything is better with potatoes baked in cream don't you think? We washed all of this down with a carafe of Ponte Pietra 2009 Corvina Del Veneto...hic.

Finally the pudding. Kanga was hoping that they would still have the chocolate gooey concoction she had when last there, but alas this was not the case. So we settled on the Queen of Puddings, with a glass each of the Monbazillac 2006 Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure. Now, we could have come to blows here, as just maybe we should have gotten two desserts. This was good. Nay, better than good. It was a layered clouds of lusciousness. It starts at the bottom with a lemon curd and sponge, then an oh-so-delicate layer of raspberry, and topped with peaks of sweet just stiff meringue. It was...well, the picture shows how much we enjoyed it I think!

Then we took our adieus and stumbled back for the slog to SE18....thankfully in a booze laced sphere of happiness that not even stinking hot overcrowded Tubes could erase. Another happy food excursion.

PS: I never did manage to shuck an oyster, it was too crowded. Kanga on the otherhand, was more persistent and managed to shuck her first - what a proud little shucker she was too!


Kanga_Rue said...

Love the blog, not only because I'm in it, but because I'm a shucker for good food! (Copyright that!)

For the record, I haven't had their gooey chocolate souffle served with a jug of chocolate sauce to pour in the middle... I had food envy from across the restaurant, so we'll just have to go back in winter once it reappears on the menu. My dessert was equally delicious last time ( - so perhaps hors d'oevres and pudding are the way to go?

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

*heart beats very quickly* OYSTER TASTING NIGHT!!!!! Oh wow, this sounds fabulous, I wish I'd been there!!

I am still pining for the ones I had on holiday pictured here:

I went to that restaurant ages ago when I worked in town, it had great atmosphere.

AussieFoodie said...

Kanga - I stand correct my sweet, and yes...horses doovers and puds may be the way forward in the future!

Sarah - I saw your post the other day when I was on the ferry....the restaurant looked gorgeous and I can see why you went back!

The service and staff were fantastic, I would eat there again in a flash (just for the custard!)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fun day! I'd love to shuck an oyster. I've seen people do it really quickly and I know I'd take so much longer but it would be fun! :)

Post a Comment