Monday, 24 March 2008

Happy New Year.. a wee few months too late

I guess it's a little late for new year wishes seeing that it's past Easter weekend now (and what a horrid cold weekend it has been in London!). However, there's always room for a few food-ing posts! Gorgeous feedings have generally been a little scarce - if you know London, it's expensive - but I will happily make do with what whatever comes my way.January started off well with a visit to Villandry on Great Portland Street. I had been hoping to visit it for some time and thanks to I got my wish. With a 50% off food, how could I possibly refuse? Nor could my fellow food addict, Jo, whom I dragged along. We arrived early enough and probably due to the fact it was only a few days into the new year, the restaurant never got more than half full. It suited Jo and I well, giving us good time to tuck into three courses and gossip to our little hearts content. Villandry itself is 1/4 wine bar, 1/4 delicatessen and 1/2 restaurant with entrances on Great Portland St and Bolsover St. Needless to say Jo and I entered through the wrong door and were treated to a nice wonder round before finding the restaurant hiding behind some great curtains that separates the food store and restaurant.

The menu was a selection of French dishes - the usual steak frites, duck confit, etc. For starters, I had the red mullet soup which had a wonderful flavour of the sea. Served with rouille, croutons and grated cheese, it was a meal in itself. Jo had the french onion soup which was topped with a slice of baguette with melted cheese. She happily slurped her way through, so no complains there either :) No photos, I'm afraid. Those that I took were terrible!

I decided on the steak (medium-rare, of course!) for my main - served with ... no, not fries but crispy thin onion rings, a whole oven roasted tomato (which was amazing despite it being winter and only lacklustre tomatoes available in the supermarkets) and some flavoured butter of some sort (anchovy perhaps?).
Jo had the lamb with bean mash (or am I totally making this up? I'm staring at my not very good picture and 1) I do remember her having lamb and 2)it does look like butter beans beneath the meat) but one thing I do remember was the overwhelming flavour of rosemary in the lamb. Jo seemed very content with her dish - rosemary or no rosemary! A special mention should also go to these beautiful lightly battered vegetables Jo and I had as our side dish. I can't remember what the vegetable selection included but it did come with some very nice tomato salsa.
Ahhh... dessert! We were utterly stuffed at this point but we weren't going to let this little fact get in our way. Onward we trudged our little bellies towards a banana tarte tatin (with ice-cream) and sticky toffee pudding (also with ice-cream). These two desserts top my list of all time favourites and I was a little anxious how well they would turn out. Banana tarte tatin? Oh dear me! Paddy (my dear aunt Sally's mother who is brilliant cook) makes an absolutely delicious apple tarte tatin and on occassion, pear. Villandry had a lot to live up to and they did. It was very good. There should never have been any worry on my part - bananas and caramel is a match made in heaven. Ohhh YUM!
The sticky toffee pudding didn't come up to expectation, however. Again I based this pudding on Sally's version of Delia Smith's recipe. The gooey-ness of the extra sauce, the extra bite from the added pecans and the slight grittiness from the chopped dates were all sadly lacking from Villandry's, perhaps, more traditional version.

It was a delicious night. We left feeling very happy and more than a little too heavy on our high heels. All in the name of a good meal which only left our purses £30 lighter per person including a glass or two of wine.

PS Apologies for the poor photos.

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