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Chez Bruce in London - 1 Michelin star

Rating: 90.
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What makes a London restaurant a culinary institution? How about having held a Michelin star since 1999? Or (equally impressively) having featured in the Harden's guide "Top Gastronomic Experience" top 10 for more than 10 years? Chez Bruce is owned by chef Bruce Poole and his business partner Nigel Platts-Martin, who opened the restaurant in 1995. Other London restaurants owned by Poole and Platts-Martin are The Glasshouse and La Trompette; both places hold a Michelin star. Head chef at Chez Bruce is Matt Christmas, who's been working alongside Bruce Poole since 2000. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner and they offer a seasonal a la carte menu (3 courses £47.50).

(courtesy of Chez Bruce)
My starter was "Aubergine Niçoise": snappy green beans, courgette, fresh tomato, anchovies, raddichio, green olive and tuna (lightly dressed with a creamy mayonnaise), all nicely wrapped in grilled caramelised aubergine. To accompany these delicious rolls there was a dressing of olive oil, finely chopped red peppers, skinned tomato, and shallots and some flash-grilled tuna. Wonderfully vibrant Niçoise ingredients/flavours that have a great affinity for each other and I loved the polished presentation.

Next up was an impeccable chicken ballotine, with delicately tender meat consistently cooked all the way through. The chicken was successfully paired with a lovely buttery mixture of golden sautéed girolle mushrooms, peas, green beans, baby carrots and turnips, and an elegantly creamy sauce seasoned with tarragon and truffle. Also on the plate were some pan-fried gnocchi, that had a wonderful sweet caramelisation on them. A delightful combination of luxurious flavours, with just the right balance between richness and finesse and spot-on seasoning. 

Dessert was a perfectly shaped Île Flottante, classically garnished with toasted almonds and served with a sweet strawberry soup, sliced fresh strawberry, small cubes of candied strawberry, and a few black pepper tuiles. Nowadays, Île Flottante (English: floating island) rarely features on restaurant menus, which is a shame because it's a great classic. Chez Bruce served me one that was well-executed and the pepper tuiles gave the dish a nice touch of savoury spiciness. 

Having a traditional 3-course meal at a Michelin starred restaurant is rare thing for me these days. Often this is my own gluttonous doing, but the fashionable tasting menu-only places simply leave you no choice. Chez Bruce has not caved in to the tasting menu trend, nevertheless my meal was a full-on affair with all the key elements there: exquisite ingredients, precise and assured cooking and splendid service. One of the real joys at Chez Bruce, though, is that there is an understanding of the classics, yet with room for contemporary influences. My only regret is that I did not get to try their fabulous cheese board, which was eyeing me all night, so I'll make sure to correct that omission on my next visit.

Posted 14-10-2015


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