Saturday, October 1, 2011

Le French Cuisine: Eating at Le Mercury and Whits, London

Do you like to be tasked with choosing a place to eat or are you one of those who like to leave it to others?

For me, I’m happy either way. These two restaurants serving French cuisine were suggested by friends I was catching up with and that I haven't heard of. One was to celebrate a birthday and the other was visiting friends in town.

Let's start with a birthday dinner at Le Mercury. It was a cold windy evening and I was walking with a fast pace dreaming of the warmth that will greet me when I open the doors of the restaurant. In I went and was led up a flight of narrow wooden stairs to my table.

It was a very reasonably priced menu with all starters priced at £3.95




We ordered a trio of starters starting with the Calamars Fris which is deep fried calamari with home made tartar sauce and dressed French leaves on the side, Beef Carpaccio with capers and red peppers relish and finishing with the Ravioli de la Mer, a crayfish and lobster ravioli with spinach and shellfish sauce.




For mains which were all priced at £6.95, there was the sea bass fillet with crushed new potatoes and minted pesto, a rib eye steak served with shallot sauce and a Scottish salmon with sautéed spinach and lobster sauce.

We all had a great time soaking in the atmosphere and vibe. It can indeed be quite a romantic place. The food may not be outstanding but is decent and with those prices, reflects a good value. An unassuming place that might not reside in your memories for long but will be thought of fondly if this happens to be part of your local eaterie.

Will I recommend: Torn with this one. It's one of those places where I enjoyed my meal but will not remember the place once I stepped out the doors.
Will I come back: Yes if I happen to be in the area
Have I had better: Yes

Picture 153

Moving onto Le Whits, my visiting friends chose this as it ranked in the top few spots on Trip Advisor. Interesting indeed as I have never thought to look at Trip Advisor for their restaurant suggestions for London.

Of course I had to read up on a few reviews to have an idea the experiences of previous diners and it has many a positive reviews. It was with open enthusiasm that I made my way there.

The lady who welcomed us in greeted us with inviting warmth that instantly made us feel relaxed and at home. We placed our orders and couldn’t wait to tuck in.

Picture 159

Lobster and scallop ravioli with buttered spinach and lobster sauce £9.75

The sweetness of the lobster and scallop hints at the palate which was not overpowered by the spinach and lobster sauce at all. The sauce was smooth and rich and creamy and yet light.

Picture 160
Smooth parfait of chicken liver and foie gras with confit onions and brioche toast £7.25

I did enjoy the chicken liver and foie gras but there was so much of it that it just overwhelms you after a while. Too rich and heavy.

Picture 164

Roast fillet of wild sea bass, chorizo, calamari, piquillo peppers, mussel and sea urchin broth £17.75

The sea bass was cooked just right with a nice crispy skin with the broth and seafood adding a depth in flavour.

Picture 162

Assiette of pork: roast fillet, braised cheek, pork belly croquette, stuffed trotter, black pudding and crisp crackling £17.50

Picture 163

Scottish fillet steak with roast bone marrow and girolle mushrooms, shallot puttee and shallot jus £19.95

Picture 161
Briochette of calves liver and kidneys, baby vegetables and grain mustard sauce £15.75

I didn’t try the rest of the mains but the dining party enjoyed their mains.
Picture 165
Assiette of English raspberries: hot soufflé, fresh raspberry ripple ice cream and poached in raspberry liquor £8.75
Dessert was the only thing that was a disappointment. The raspberry soaked in its own liquor in the martini glass was just wrong. It was too sour and just did not taste nice to me. The hot soufflé and ice cream were OK.

I actually think this is a good French restaurant worthy of consideration if you like your Fench cuisine. Food is cooked and made well, the staff is friendly and in a lovely environment. Just maybe stay away from the Assiette of English raspberries.

Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: Yes
Have I had better: Yes

Le Mercury, 140a Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QY

Whits, 21 Abingdon Road, Kensington, London W8 6AH
Whits on Urbanspoon


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