Returning to an old favourite restaurant like Le Garrick is like putting on a long-forgotten, beloved jumper. It’s cosy, delicious, fits a little differently but above all, has an underlying love of satisfaction so different to a newer garment. Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Le Garrick, but my (very many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I don’t happily visit. And revisit.
Restaurants from all corners of the globe line the the London streets of Covent Garden and the West End to entice theatre goers. Mexican fajitas, Kiwi brunches, delectably dirty American burgers, Italian pizzas – you name it, it seems as though almost every corner of cuisine gets a look in.
Down a very continental street, Le Garrick, an intimate restaurant has claimed a corner for France. Known worldwide as a bastion of culinary excellence, French cuisine is famous for simple, fabulous ingredients paired with a skill in subtlety that is almost unsurpassed according to the professionals. And eating snails.
Facing the blue-grey stone of the Neo-classical facade of the exclusive Garrick Club, it is easy to lose yourself in the charm of Le Garrick’s rustic setting. Perfectly timeworn tables match spindly chairs, an ornate bureau houses the waitress station, baskets of warm baguette await hungry customers and an iron spiral staircase leads to further candlelit nooks downstairs.
As soon as you cross the threshold, you’re in France without the travel hassle.
For this lunch date with the work wife, we both drifted our eyes over the signature calamari, but both decided on the French onion soup. Rich in earthy broth, slivers of onion are crowned by a crisp slice of garlic buttered baguette and softly melting cheese. That’s a cable knit with purl stitch right there.
We went for lighter mains for our lunch; based on a wonderful lunch I had in Champagne, I chose the moules frites – a very generous bowl of mussels ‘marinières’ cooked in white wine, parsley and cream served with french fries, whilst the wife went for the plat du jour of asparagus. I knew she was eyeing up my fries…
Convinced by Charles, (co-owner with his lovely wife Domi) we ordered the Cafe Gourmand to share, a showcase of the patisserie and dessert selection. Accompanied with a bracing coffee we nattered away more of the sunshine.
Everything is good? Yes, everything is good in this Covent Garden corner of French resistance. Invent a reason to take your beloveds (friends, partners, work colleagues, neighbours) to Le Garrick and linger in the convivial atmosphere over glasses of french wine and wonderful meals. They have fantastic value (in both time and money) theatre/lunch menus as well as the full a la carte menu.
Simple, fabulous ingredients paired with a skill in flavour subtlety rich on the palate. We opted to sit upstairs (for the light and gentle hubbub) but the downstairs is full of romantic candlelit nooks and crannies
Thinking we’d finished, our lovely waitress brought out a palette zinging digestif liquer which put roses in our cheeks. One might even say the colour into the metaphorical jumper that I’m torturing for the entirety of this post.
It’s funny to think that the multi-cultural crowds that throng Covent Garden may not realise the French connections of the area – the use of the name “Covent” – an Anglo-French term for a religious community, equivalent to “monastery” or “convent” – appears in a document in 1515, when the Abbey, which had been letting out parcels of land along the north side of the Strand for inns and market gardens, granted a lease of the walled garden, referring to it as “a garden called Covent Garden”. This is how it was recorded from then on.
Just be prepared to be taken into the warm, cosy Le Garrick family, 3 words of French or not. Actual jumpers totally optional.
Whats your favourite French dish?