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Posh Lunch Club at Racine

Lunch at Racine

Friends were visiting from Ireland recently and staying in Knightsbridge. As always happens these days, recommendations were requested, and I had one must visit for them in the area – Racine. I couldn’t get through to them, and when I finally did they announced that they had already happened upon it and loved it. High praise from two Francophiles indeed. I was delighted that they had had a chance to try it, I feel now that everyone should.

Racine is a classic French restaurant that serves very elegant, well executed food. Henry Harris is at the helm, with impeccable credentials having trained at Hilaire with Simon Hopkinson. I’ve eaten there a few times now and have never been disappointed. Each dish delivers what you expect and more. It’s classic French food, rich but not heavy with excellent sourcing of ingredients that are cooked in perfect harmony.

I went here for Posh Lunch Club but for the first time fell off of the horse. Posh Lunch Club is about fine dining at bargain prices, only from the set menu, no matter how enticing the main menu is. I blame my dining companion Derek, he went off piste, and then I had to. It’s all his fault you see. I have decided to include it in Posh Lunch Club anyway, if only because I am going there for regular posh lunches from now on, and they are a steal at £17.50 for 3 courses. Also, despite matching wines to each course and going off piste, it came in at the same price as The Ledbury set lunch (£50), and I enjoyed it just as much.

So, what did we have? We started with the stunning bone marrow, spring garlic and bacon toast pictured at the top of this post. It was gentle, eloquent, and just the right side of intense. The garlic distracted from the bone marrows fervor and gave it a lovely aromatic and slightly nutty quality.

Lunch at Racine

Mains were, for me, and from the set menu, confit pork belly with sauce diable. Derek had confit de canard aux lentilles. I wanted each as much as the other. My pork belly was perfect. The flesh was tender and packed with flavour, the skin was crispy but not teeth shatteringly so, it had a lovely crunch. The sauce diable was creamy but with a beautiful acidity, which was perfect with the fatty pork. The confit de canard was the best I’ve had, crispy, succulent, more-ish and the lentils were a perfect savoury accompaniment.

Lunch at Racine

I went off piste for the dessert, for I have to have the rhubarb as you know. We’re almost out of season and I am in a near panic. Poached Yorkshire rhubarb, mandarin sorbet, grand Marnier and orange curd was a beautiful tribute to my favourite fruit, the rhubarb meshed with the ice cream, bright pink and meltingly tender. I see it’s still on the menu now. Derek had the cheese board which was generous and well selected, and had the most delicious walnuts, from memory they were gently spiced and candied.

Lunch at Racine

The menu changes daily and offers great variety – it is updated on their website and I can’t resist peeking frequently and planning future outings there. This was one of my favourite posh lunch clubs by far, and it’s placed high in my affections for dinner too. A classic restaurant, driven by passion, knowledge and fierce attention to detail. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend you go.

Lunch at Racine

Racine Restaurant

www.racine-restaurant.com

239 Brompton Road
London SW3 2EP
020 7584 4477

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Lunch at Galvin La Chapelle

The Galvin brothers have moved east and opened a new eatery in Spitalfields, or rather two, Galvin La Chapelle for high end dining, and attached, Galvin Cafe de Luxe for more relaxed dining. I’ve been pretty lax this year for checking in on new openings, so when Fiona Beckett, prolific author, blogger and twitterer invited me there for lunch, how could I say no? I couldn’t.

Housed in the former church hall of St Botolph’s in Spitalfields, on the new and spruced up Spital Square, an area once full of character, but sadly now more full of chains, Galvin La Chapelle sits on a corner. Behind an imperial grey doorway lies an arresting cavernous restaurant, with high vaulted ceilings and a glass walled mezzanine area housing the toilets at the back, and a private dining area at the front. It’s very impressive, and screams decadence. The clientele are, given the location, predominantly city types, donning designer suits and brandishing brandy. I am relieved when I spy Fiona, relaxed and smiling at a table by the back.

Fiona was perusing the wine list and in discussions with the somellier. We decided on the food and then asked the sommelier to provide matches by the glass, we also ordered a glass of hermitage to sample with the mains, which retails via an enomatic for circa £50 a glass. Mommmeeeeee, I was excited.

Fiona chose the Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994 which would be matched with our mains of tagine of squab pigeon and harissa sauce for me and veal cheek for Fiona. First our starters, and again I must apologise for awful photos, my Canon DSLR was stolen (I may have mentiond), and my little camera is a disaster for me, as I have a benign and utterly harmless lifelong tremor, which means photography on less evolved devices with no flash = BLUR. Ah well.

For starter I went with lasagne of dorset crab, chanterelles and chervil which was matched with a robust glass of white from the Douro, which for me was too dominant, although a delicious white on it’s own. Fiona had the salad of red leg partridge with pomegranate and maple dressing which was deliciously sticky and festive. The Douro went really well with this so we traded our wines. Fiona’s lighter white (which I can’t recall sadly), went really well with my light, foamy and delicate starter.

Mains next, and this is where things were getting exciting. My pigeon tagine arrived. I eyed it with suspicion. My tagine is lived in and the lid is coated with tagine splutter and stains. This one was spick and span and when I touched it, cold. Eh? The lid was removed and underneath was an unexpected and very composed and deconstructed tagine with the squab pigeon in the centre squatted on a pile of cous cous. It wasn’t the unctous comfort food I was expecting but it was delicious and moreish. It went fantastically well with the Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994, which, aware of how much of a treat this was, I sipped with caution and delight. The veal cheak was rich, with great depth, and served with a buttery and intense Robuchon style mash. Both dishes were great.

Next for dessert. I chose the blueberry soufflé, coulis and milk ice cream, and Fiona the pear tart tatin with crème fraîche. The blueberry soufflé was fantastic, a glorious and lively shade of lilac, which sadly the photgraph doesn’t show. It was light and very flavoursome, full of airY blueberry goodness and particularly good with the milky ice cream. I had a sparkling red dessert wine with it, Contero Brachetto d’Acqui, of which I wanted a lot more and will be seeking out again.

I really enjoyed it, and look forward to trying the more informal and cheaper Cafe de Luxe next door soon. I very much enjoyed the lunch, but Galvin La Chapelle’s prices are at the high end of the gourmands spectrum with my starter at £11.50, main at £22.50 and dessert at £8.50. The lunch set menu, however is a great deal, offering an enticing boudin noir with apple and pommes mousseline on the day we were there,and priced at £24.50 for three courses, it’s a bit of a bargain. Many thanks to Fiona for treating me to a delicious lunch.

Fiona’s Decanter Review.

Galvin La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, London E1
020 7299 0400
www.galvinrestaurants.com