Saturday, 2 February 2013

Chez Bruce

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Marco Pierre White's two Michelin star establishment Harveys, sitting beside Wandsworth common, was like a magnet in the 1980's for people with a more than passing interest in decent food. The place was famous for being the S.A.S of kitchens which developed the career's of well known chef's such as Philip Howard, Stephen Terry and of course Gordon Ramsay. Marco left the restaurant in 1995 after re branding the restaurant with Sir Michael Caine, the baton passed to Bruce Poole who re-opened under the name Chez Bruce.

Bruce and his crew specialise in French cuisine, as the name suggests. With a weekend free and a few quid spare myself and Ali headed for London to grab our first taste of a Michelin star standard experience. Booking the table went through well known which many restaurants tend to favour and why not? It's easy, simple and takes little over two clicks to book a table in some top establishments. However we have a difficult relationship with toptable as in New York a booking fell victim to transport issues and the other due to the fact the restaurant in question had forgot to update their opening hours resulting in two 'no show's'.

Looking to put an end to this dire run of form we headed on the northern line straight into delays, this wasn't good. A quick call to the restaurant, who were more than accommodating to allow us time past our booking, made things all the more easy and 20 minutes late we strolled into Chez Bruce.

First impressions were good, smiling staff, immaculate dining room and character to the place with a bistro-feel, not too stiff and formal. Soon after seating we were greeted with a pre-starter of savoury biscuits, focaccia bread (three types in fact) and a very reasonably priced wine list coupled with a friendly and knowledgeable sommelier, as good starts go this was up there.

Our friend brought us a carafe of Argentinian white containing three grape varieties which went down a storm, starter's soon followed, pork and duck terrine with walnuts, french bean and iberico ham salad and armagnac marinated prunes pour moi and venison burger with carrot puree and sauce poiverade for Ali, silence pretty much said it all, it was delicious. The terrine was smooth, the walnuts in the salad provided texture and the armagnac sauce brought it all together, the venison was rich, pink and the flavour incredible, the sauce wasn't overly rich and the balance overall was well judged.

The restaurant began to fill a bit more by this point and it was good to see families enjoying the food on offer, clearly this place has a loyal local following. Main's arrived looking a real picture, two of our favourite things on one plate, duck and dauphinois potatoes but done with a difference. The course was essentially a salad with thinly sliced duck, dauphinois croquettes and roasted winter vegetables, intriguing enough to order.

As it proved, it was excellent, the dauphinois retained the layers and look of a traditional gratin, the duck was pink with strong flavour and vegetables perfectly cooked seasoned with a red wine vinaigrette along with a strip of confit duck, hands down the best salad i've ever had and probably ever will.

Pushing for room by this point we risked a dessert and Ali opted for the hot chocolate pudding with praline, I went for pear and almond tart with clotted cream and butterscotch sauce. On paper, two classic desserts, in delivery, faultless. The pastry was sweet and crumbly encasing soft caramelised pear, the other two accessories on the plate would work alongside anything quite honestly. The chocolate pudding was rich and doused in rich dark chocolate sauce with flaked almonds and almond ice cream, indulgence at its finest.

The bill came to a modest £105, outstanding value for a meal of this quality. Service is normally a gripe in these places as being too intrusive but the exception here is a relaxed service who are attentive and approachable making the diner feel at ease, can't really get better than that.

In summary Bruce Poole can be immensely proud of his fine restaurant, the food is a delight, the setting with a view over Wandsworth common is welcoming and being ex-front of house himself, understands the importance of getting the service right. Many thanks for a great experience and we shall return, highly recommended.


  1. Good review of a place I've always wanted to visit. One minor point: Harveys never had three Michelin stars. MPW got his throw star in Knightsbridge, at the Hyde Park Hotel.

    1. Indeed he did - I have amended it accordingly, check out Chez Bruce, it's a good solid dining experience - proper portions!