Last week The Handbook braved the torrential rain to head over to Le Cercle, in search of their tasting menu. Having waded through the puddles on Sloane Square, we slipped off onto Wilbraham Place, through the glass doors, down a set of stairs into Le Cercle.
Despite having no windows, Le Cercle feels spacious, light, and airy whilst at the same time cosy and intimate, a mix of little booths, tables and bar seats. The tall ceilings and white walls made us feel almost as if we were in some cavern and yet the seats by the fire were like being in a little snug.
We naturally started with bread, freshly cooked and still warm, a mix of granary, sweet and white breads, whilst we picked, our waitress came over to explain that the five course meal is matched with five wines, and so we started with watermelon carpaccio, black pudding and crackling. The watermelon was a great accompaniment to the black pudding which was so good, light creamy and not too rich I would say it could easily turn any black pudding critic into a convert.
The saffron confit Pollock was beautifully cooked and the saltiness of the clams offset the creamy caviar sauce perfectly, although a few more clams wouldn’t have gone amiss but the dish was delicious and the accompanying wine, Domaine des Ouillières, Coteaux d’Aix Rose, 2012 was crisp, and light. We then moved onto roasted quail Basquaise, grenailles crisps and red sauce. The crisps, and the basquaise were gorgeous, although the quail required some effort to rid it of bones and we were almost a little defeated by it.
What came next though was the winner, St Marcellin cheese with pickled peaches and cranberry jus and cracker breads. The cheese was strong, creamy and oh so good. The pickled peaches were lovely but as with clams a little bit more was needed just to cut through the cheese.
The beauty of the meal was that it was light enough so that we were satisfied but not full to the point where it hurt, which is never desired, but when food tasted like this you want to finish every last morsel, and so we of course had pudding. Called a French Kiss, it was two slices of dark chocolate over frozen tarragon with strawberry tartar, it was refreshing, which was just as well because the wine Muscat de Rivesaltes, Domaine des Schistes, 2011 was so sweet, it was surprisingly our favourite wine of the night.
Le Cercle is perfect for times when you want a relaxed atmosphere but something a little more special, and the bar is great for drinks after a date. If you can’t decide what to order then the tasting menu is a must giving you a little bit of everything.