Very occasionally, I leave the Midlands.. I know.. shock horror!! And frequent readers will know that there are a couple of restaurant reviews on my blog now for Reading and the Wokingham area. That’s because some of my best friends live there and whenever I visit, we always end up eating somewhere fab. My most recent visit was a bit different, we left the boy at home and with another good friend, us girls headed into town for a posh lunch.
My friend chose the London St.Brasserie and we ate from their set lunch – priced at £16 for two courses. Excellent value and a really interesting menu.. Having googled the place, I saw that their Chef Patron Paul Clerehugh has won quite a few awards over the years so I was excited to try the food!
The restaurant is spread over two floors in an old higgly piggly building which overlooks the man shopping area in Reading. An attractive contrast to the modern swathe of shops and chain bars around it. Inside, its just gorgeous – lots of exposed brick and tasteful artwork. The upstairs (where we sat) also looks out on one side over the river. I can imagine it is very nice at night with the candles lit.
To start, I went for the oxford blue cheese soufflé with a herb and grape salad. The souffle was excellent, creamy and as I hoped, punchy with the blue cheese. The salad had apples in it which worked very well but for me, some of the herbs were a little too bitter.
Both my friends went for the same starter – Feta and beetroot cakes with cucumber, dill, mint and a shallot salad. And yoghurt sauce. The cakes were really tasty, delicate but crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I had no problem helping polish them off!
For main, I went for fish. I nearly always go for pork – as you can probably tell if you read my reviews often. Although I’ve always enjoyed fish, its not my go to main but recently I have been trying to rectify that. We’re cooking with fish a lot more at home and I’m trying to eat it out more too. With that in mind, I went for the pan fried Loch Duart salmon fillet with a leek vinaigrette, merguez sausage and a rhubarb & fennel salad.
The presentation (as with the starters) was beautiful. I’m a fan of a crisp clean white plate and I thought this dish looked very pretty – not sure my pic has done it justice. Sadly, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the merguez. I’ve had some cracking examples, most recently at The Paget
in Loughborough but this just didn’t have much flavour to it. The leeks, fennel and salmon on the other hand were gorgeous. I love my fish cooked with a crispy skin and this was a fine example!
One of my friends went for the veggie option – Asparagus, ricotta, spinach and pine nut filo with an asparagus salad, roquette, olives & overnight tomato. Personally I’m not a huge fan of ricotta, I find it very cloying on my palette. I also felt that the presentation let the dish down. Hidden under all those leaves was a very pretty little pie. Flavour wise, the asparagus was fresh and cooked well and my friend thoroughly enjoyed the dish. My other friend went for the chicken. Presentation back on form, it looked so pretty on the plate with the soft yellow and bright reds. The dish – grilled corn fed chicken breast, soft parmesan polenta, purple sprouting & red pepper salsa was just delicious. The broccoli (not purple but definitely sprouting) was cooked al dente and the chicken moist and flavourful.
None of us had a pud as it was lunchtime and the portions were generous. If I lived in Reading I think I would definitely be back to try the full menu in the evening and I know my friends are planning to. A lovely little independent bistro with a good wine list and great interesting dishes. What’s not to love?
*We paid for our meals ourselves and the LSB did not know that I was planning to review. All opinions (as always) are most definitely my own.*