Colonel Mustard had: Starter: Cod brandade with Cornish mussels, crisp egg and sea kale; Main course: Roast stone bass with curried shrimp, coriander salad, curry leaf potatoes and lime; Dessert: Rhubarb and vanilla mille-feuille with blood orange sorbet and lemon curd.
Professor Plum had: Starter: Garlic soup with chicken oysters and roast garlic crostini; Main course: Breast and ballotine of chicken with rigatoni gratin, truffled cauliflower puree and sherry vinegar; Dessert: Hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait.
Spring is perhaps the most unpredictable of seasons. The cruelest month may be associated with showers, but it’s just as likely to bring a day of glorious sunshine. Or snowfall. The impact of this on dining is that you’re never quite sure what will feel and taste right on that particular day. Seasonal menus are the norm at a good restaurant, but that really refers to seasonal produce, to getting the right ingredients for the time of year, not to the right style of dish (although admittedly the two things are related). That’s how on our recent trip to Wandsworth’s Chez Bruce I ended up having something light, bright and summery and Professor Plum something much denser and heavier. Given the unusually warm weather outside, I definitely made the right choice, but had we come a day or two later and ordered the exact same things then our reactions may have been quite different.
This Michelin star restaurant has a reputation as Londoners’ favourite London restaurant and certainly it has a simple elegance in decor and style (very white and with an insistence on white plates) and a just about affordable lunch menu that put it in more of a category of somewhere you’d go for a particularly nice lunch than the more extravagant Michelin star restaurants that we have visited before in the capital. That is not to say, however, that the food is not of the very highest quality with flavours that compliment each other perfectly.
Given Professor Plum’s fish allergy, I often take the opportunity to enjoy a seafood based menu when eating out and I was not disappointed by what was on offer here. My starter of cod and mussels was good, but the real making of it was the texture added by the crisp egg in the middle. This was followed by a main of well cooked stone bass that mingled French and Indian influences with a tang of lime and coriander that felt just right for a sunny day’s lunch. Professor Plum enjoyed chicken ballotine and rigatoni gratin, but found the whole thing perhaps a little too heavy for the middle of a hot day.
It was a pattern that was followed through the dessert. Unusually, I eschewed the chocolate option (which meant that Professor Plum went for it instead) and opted for something tangier and fruitier with the rhubarb and vanilla mille-feuille. The flavours of the rhubarb and the accompanying citrus fruits were powerful, but well balanced. I wasn’t sure that the addition of lemon curd was going to work for it, but actually it cut through the sharpness of the rhubarb well. The chocolate pudding and praline parfait that Professor Plum opted for was definitely a well put together dessert, but I have to feel that I made the right choice, especially as once again it was much heavier than my light and summery dish.
Pricey, but not unaffordably so for an upmarket lunch, Chez Bruce is definitely the kind of place I could see us going back to when we are in that part of the world and they gave us a voucher for their Kew Gardens adjacent sister restaurant The Glass House, which my professional chef brother tells me is possibly better. I’m sure we’ll be enjoying both in the future.