Let me tell you about my very real French love affair. It all started in Covent Garden; I was wined, I was dined and I left feeling like I had experienced a true slice of France. I wasn’t in love with a Monsieur Darcy, no, much better, the thing that had left me all a flutter? Le Garrick.
The family run bistro and brasserie sits unassumingly and humbly between Garrick Street and Floral Street. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but that’s what’s great about it; red gingham tables line the pavements and inside the small ground floor restaurant is filled with little candles. Old theatre posters adorn the walls spiralling down to the warren like restaurant in the cellar, if you can, get a table here. Here you’ll find exposed stone walls, intimate booths, a small bar with just enough space to pull up a pew and rickety tables. The overall feel is charming, romantic, but at the same time relaxed and informal – it’s not grand and it’s not refined, but that’s all part of the appeal.
The staff bustled around, joking with the customers, recommending the best dishes, “Do you want a cocktail? Of course you do it’s a Tuesday!” and we were promptly brought two Kir Royals before we had a chance to answer. They were only too happy to recommend, saying what they loved, what they thought we should try, you could tell they seemed genuinely enthused by the menu.
Inspired by Charles’ (Charles and Dominika are the team behind it) Grandfather’s traditional dishes and regional dishes, the menu is typically and unapologetically French – French onion soup, fondue, snails and beef bourguignon set the tone.
Burgundy snails arrived swimming in a delicious pool of garlic and butter, it was good to see they had not used the butter sparingly although I’m sure my arteries wouldn’t be thanking me later. Seared fresh scallops arrived with rocket and red pepper, a lighter companion to the richness of the snails.
This was followed by a big bowl of mussels, simply cooked with shallots, white wine, parsley and a dash of cream, their approach to butter followed through to the portion size, when I say bowl I mean it was approaching cauldron level as was the vat of crisp fries that accompanied it, was I complaining? Certainly not. Some things are better bigger.
We were presented with a classic selection of puddings crème brulée, tarte au citron and chocolate mousse but it was the silky, smooth chocolate fondant filled with a molten chocolate that stole our hearts and confirmed our love for Le Garrick.
Le Garrick is a gem in Covent Garden, go there for a pre-theatre supper or post-theatre drink, go there and feast on mussels, go there and celebrate the end of the day with cheese and red wine – just make sure you go.