Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Andrew Edmunds - it's our little secret Part I - Oct 2011

Where: Andrew Edmunds, Lexington Street, Soho
With who: Dr Vole, who else!?
How much: Just over £50 a head for a decent wine, champagne to start and 2 and a half courses each with coffee
Come here if: this time you know it's for real...

I've got to be honest. Since starting this blog, I've been to Andrew Edmunds at least 3 times. And there's a really good reason why I haven't told you about it. Because I don't want you to know about it.

I've also avoided telling you about it in case it's not as good as I think. Like some awful parent, am I swooning over the plank-like stage performance of their progeny - convinced they're the next Olivier or Dench. Would this, my ultimate recommendation, on a site of recommendations, live up to the billing? Or would you break my heart and just see it as so-so...

After an introduction like that, I'm at risk of coming across like Greg Wallace at the prospect of an all you can eat patisserie masterclass and so I'll take a few breaths and try not to get too carried away.

Dark, cosy and romantic. It's a restaurant that wraps you up in a slightly sexy cuddle, like a beautiful older French lady wearing her lover's jumper. Imagine a ramshackle and quaint bistro, with disarmingly efficient and yet laid back staff, a wine list curated by someone with a keen eye for a bargain and fantastically fresh, unstuffy fare prepared from whatever the chef feels is best at the market that week. The menu is handwritten before being photocopied, the wine list changes weekly. Paper cloths, mis-matching furniture and spluttering wine bottle candlesticks certainly aren't contrived, but certainly won't help win them a star.

With such atmosphere, it's all we can do to stop ourselves ripping our clothes off then and there, but I didn't get the stomach I've got today by ignoring my basest food based desires at the exclusion of all others, so we dived into the menu instead. Firm fleshed smoked eel comes with beetroot chutney and horseradish cream, complex but perfectly balanced mix of sharp and milky smooth flavour and soft but crunchy texture. Dr Vole and I somewhat share her cauliflower and cumin fritters, a firm patty fried and served with a delicate raita. There's also the house special, when available, of freshly dressed crab and a solid sounding portion of goose rillette, served with a tart fruit chutney and homemade sourdough bread. 

The mains follow a similar rustic tack. There's nothing too challenging here, though the kitchen isn't afraid of a little nose to tail eating, when appropriate. A muscular and resolutely unthreatened hunk of fresh cod wearing a cape of herbs reclines royally on a bed of wilted spinach and tomato coated broad beans. It's not elegant, but my god does it taste good. And that's what little I managed to scavenge from under Dr Vole's watchful eyes. 

An Angus beef shepherd's pie on the lunchtime menu didn't make it as far as the evening, I was smugly informed by our waiter it had wound up as the staff lunch. A shame, as I'd had my eye on it since walking past earlier and seeing it on the board outside. Um'ing and ah'ing between a seafood paella, heaving with langoustine and shellfish, and a lamb shank I was finally able to kick the menu Tourettes and dug into one of the best bits of throwaway lamb I can remember. Sinking into a quicksand of pureed potato, it bravely clung onto a thick branch of perfectly cooked cabbage. To no avail, I drowned it in a thick gamey gravy and slowly stripped the meat from the thick bone.

Sated, though with just enough room to share a treacle tart from the trencherman's list, the end of the excellent rose Sancerre turned my thoughts to matters romantic once more. We gazed at each other over the drippy candle and sighed... deeply... There's no doubt that the mood and the food provokes, but like Macbeth's porter and his wine, while it provokes the desire its sheer volume takes away any possibility of the performance.

Reservations are only taken a week out, which is useful to know, and the upstairs is a (tiny) bit more pleasant than the seating downstairs. Just don't ask for my table, or I'll really have to kill you.

This image has been 'borrowed' from squaremeal, it's too dark to take a decent picture of the room at night and I'd never, ever use a flash, especially not somewhere this romantic!
  
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4 comments:

  1. This is definitely a topic that's close to me so Im happy that you wrote about it. I'm also happy that you did the subject some justice. Not only do you know a great deal about it, you know how to present in a way that people will want to read more. Im so happy to know someone like you exists on the web.

    Gourmet Secrets

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    1. thanks for reading and commenting. Rich

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  2. Likewise, I've been many times and hate anyone else knowing about this fab place - it's got much busier over the last 20 years or so... not always easy to get a table these days but sooo worth it when you do. I'm not a foody and love simple grub and this place does it - I discovered pumpkin lasagne here. Downstairs can be a bit too cramped, but the atmosphere makes up for it.

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    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for reading and commenting. It is definitely somewhere that gets better over time... I've never had a problem getting a table, but I do tend to assume I have to ring exactly a week out at 10am in order to get the table! If you haven't already, check out Zucca for similar reasons. Different style and less romantic arguably, but amazing simple, clean flavours..

      Rich

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