Monday

Viet Food - Wardour Street, Soho

Viet Food sticks out like a sore thumb...amongst the typical Soho Chinese restaurant frontage Viet Food is more stylised, more inviting and more...'restaurant-y'. It does however, still have the 'compulsory' open kitchen with a large window for passer's by to stare at the chefs beavering away at their delicious Vietnamese Street Food creations.

Four of us popped by on a Tuesday evening after securing a prized table (they have had a boom in bookings since a few well acclaimed foodies gave them the thumbs up!)... we were perched downstairs on the high table by the kitchen, I am told upstairs is where it's at but, we were perfectly happy especially with what was about to come.
The menu is largely made up of sharing dishes with a few 'Pho' and 'Bun' mains towards the back. After reading a few blogs we decided to opt for as many sharing dishes as possible and skip the slurping bowls... honestly it's the best way forward. Ordering two lots of their prawn crackers whilst we waited for the latecomer we covered our plates in their firey hot blow-your-head-off red sauce and also their milder, sharper green chilli sauce. 

Once ordered food came at a good pace. Lighter items first then moving onto more main style dishes. I asked for the waitresses help with flavourings and any recommendations and her suggestions were all wonderful.

Coconut calamari served with sweet and sour sauce were a perfect example of crisp coating and all of us thoroughly enjoying the added flavour of the coconut to make these a little different from the norm... we ordered two of these... The sweet and sour sauce in the tiny glass 'thimble' was a little pointless however.
A waitress suggestion of the Pomelo prawn salad was an excellent choice. Our prawns were big, fat and juicy. Perfectly cooked and the salad, a good citrus-y and sweet kick with crunchy textures went down a treat cutting through some of the heavier stickier dishes below. 
Lemongrass chicken wings - sticky, sweet and slightly spiced but, sadly, not hugely memorable...
Five spiced soft shelled crab had mixed reviews (mostly due to the fact there was FAR too much raw onion on the dish... overall however, a well executed light, crisp batter and the five spice (as with the calamari) gave a slight edge on this version over others...
Cha Cha Lot was another recommendation and turned out to be another winner... grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf, sweet, sticky and incredibly tasty. 
A favourite of mine and a must order whenever on a menu is fried green beans with shrimp sauce and minced beef (often with minced pork). This is a perfect combination of sweet and salt and perfect when the beans are kept al dente for a good bit of crunch. 
Lamb cutlets 'hanoi style' were cooked to perfection with succulent meat a sticky glaze and with an excellent amount of charring for added flavour.
Bacon wrapped ribs I wasn't so keen on and nor were my fellow companions due to them being slightly chewy and not hugely flavoursome. Yes, the bacon added another dimension and something different to the usual ribs. But, there's other tastier items on the menu I would rather have over these.
Vietnam free range chicken curry was a little too heavy for me and had a powdery texture and bitterness to it - possibly too much curry powder? Not a dish I would pounce on again in comparison to others above and a shame to end on a slightly low point. We had this with their beef fried rice (not pictured) which was delicious... 
A great addition to the China Town tourist masses. Some lows but, many dishes with outweigh these. So, book ahead and definitely go with a gaggle of hungry friends... 

A: 34-36 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QT
T: 020 7494 4555

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Vietfood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday

Brasserie Gustave


Nestled at the top end of Sydney Street, Chelsea is a space that seemingly has had more change of ownerships than I have had of hot dinners...

However one may just be staying put. Brasserie Gustave has been open a year and a half which we are told by the charming bar tender downstairs whilst sipping on cocktails and eating freshly made canapés... in this time we learnt about the Head Chef, Laurence Glayzer and his background - coming from the three starred Georges Blanc and the two starred L'esperance... so, high expectations.
Salmon and caviar, terrine and cheese sticks
Upstairs is fronted by the rather wonderful and engaging Richard Weiss whom, personally, made this evening all the better for us. His enthusiastic energy is infectious and he has a way to make you basically agree with whatever he is offering - trust me, it's all good!

We settled in and allowed for said Richard to choose our wines to match our chosen courses and started with a Pinot blanc from Alsace.. the rest I can't tell you about but all were quaffable!

Mr D ordered their (now) infamous snails and went for the 12 (also available as 6) thus meaning I got to taste a couple of these. Swimming in garlic and parsley, then topped with a tiny freshly fried croûton, a lardon and a pastry 'snail'. They were the best we have both ever eaten and so it would be a sacrilege to not order these when visiting Gustave.
Starter pour moi was the foie gras pressed terrine served simply with a wonderful, fig and port chutney and toast. Plentiful, delicious and completely spoiling.
A fresh glass meant the arrival of our mains was imminent. The mains are hefty on the red meat side of things (would you expect any different?!) and thus pleased the man greatly! I settled with a 'country style' sounding simple Confit de Canard dish served with choucroute (French sauerkraut) a bit like a huntsman's broth - simple flavours, clean tasting and heart warming. It was exactly that. 
Mr D chose the steak served 'saignant' and with a flambéed (at your table) cognac and pepper sauce.
Puddings were a mean feat to squeeze in however, our arms were twisted with a rich and creamy crème brûlée, which came solo and simple. And, what can only be described as an 'orgasmic', very chocolate-y, very gooey, chocolate fondant.

Gustave - we will be visiting again. I hope with a huge group to add to the wonderful, local atmosphere it gave last Friday evening...the kitchen serves up wonderful French food which does a great job - filling the enormous gaping hole that the well-loved Racine has left behind...magnifique!

Disclosure - we were invited to review

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Brasserie Gustave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
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