Now, French restaurants aren’t precisely MJ’s idea of fun, but I’d long been meaning to pay this place a visit, not only because of its Tudor House venue, but also because it has a solid reputation for excellent French cuisine, showcasing well-prepared, hearty ingredients, so I managed to convince her that it would be a good plan to step across their threshold.
Once we’d made our schoolboy errors with the doors, we were seated in a window seat, and offered menus to consider. These focussed on a good selection of attractive sounding dishes, across meat, game, fish and vegetarian options.
We also took the opportunity to contemplate the beautiful cornicing, as you would expect from this prestige West End venue. While the venue was undoubtedly stylish, I didn’t feel it exuded the charming romance of somewhere like Le Sept.
MJ was hung-up on whether to opt for the monkfish or the lamb. I suggested that she obliquely mention to the waitress that she’d have both if they offered one as a starter, but our friendly and attentive waitress didn’t take the hint. When placed on the spot, she opted for the lamb, after a little assistance from the aforesaid waitress.
I was a little clearer in my mind. After a briefly contemplating ordering the sirloin steak, to follow my soup of the day, which was a cream of parsnip with honeyed carrot, I opted for the bouillabaisse.
My soup arrived at light speed and it looked decidedly bonnie. It was packed with flavour, too, and I took great pleasure in keeping the dishwasher’s job to an absolute minimum by mopping the plate clean, using the basket of fresh baguette to manage the task.
As an aside, MJ and I had a bloody fabulous meal, a while back, at the Purslane, in Stockbridge. To celebrate their first anniversary, they put together an exquisite seven course tasting menu, showcasing the most popular dishes from their first year of business. I mention it because every one of the plates from the seven courses was sent back without a speck of food on it, as there wasn’t a morsel that should have gone to waste. Such was the case with the very good soup opener, here.
The sea bream and shellfish bouillabaisse soon followed. MJ’s lamb, over which she had agonised, was not a patch on my dish, which featured excellent fish, lovely clams and mussels, and a delightful base of vegetables. Of course, I was not so secretly smug, because all too often she wins in the “best at ordering” stakes, but given she hadn’t had a starter, it was a little sad to see her given the rough end of the stick.
The main problem was the potato stack, offered as the carbs element of the dish. Aside from looking a trifle inelegant, it was curiously tepid, and generally rather odd. The waitress offered to replace it (she asked “is everything OK” and we replied “yes, but ‘that’ is a bit strange”) but MJ had faith that my combined breadth of taste and appetite would eventually account for it. It didn’t, because it just wasn’t right. It lacked the moisture, richness and decadence that is always implied and usually delivered by a gratin dauphinois.
I rounded things out with very decent espresso, then it was time to handle the required exchange of wealth-endowed paper, and be on our way.
So, in terms of the food, I did very well at La P’tite Folie. The soup and the seafood were both very good indeed. But MJ’s dish was not right, so once I got over my triumph, I did wonder at the potential for this place to be a bit hit and miss. But I have to go on what I was served, and both dishes were very good. So, as is often the case, careful ordering is richly rewarded. Beyond that, I have a feeling that other places operating within this milieu (L’escargot Blanc to name but one) are likely to serve you to a more reliably high quality level.
After a night of chatter, Blythe and I decided to wander till we found food, little did I know he was herding me into the realm of French food. (contrary to what might be apparent, I do like French food, just rustic versions of it) The Tudor house was lovely and we stepped inside and were seated by the front window. The menu looked grand and I knew I was going to forgo a starter and wait for the peppered lamb, which sounded fantastic.
I waited patiently, sipping a nice glass of red, while Blythe made his way through the tasty soup before our mains arrived. You know that feeling of food envy that creeps up on you and hits you with a force once you realise that yes, you should have gone with your gut and ordered something else because now the plate sitting in front of your companion looks leaps and bounds more tasty than what is in front of your own nose?
Sadly, the visuals matched the food served. My lamb was ok. It was cooked nicely and the peppery crust gave it something, but the sauce that accompanied it was such that I hardly remembered it was there when I sat down to write this. Only the images served as a reminder. The green beans were nice, as they usually are, and then we get to the gratin dauphinois. Strange. I am not a huge fan on a good day, but I do try things, and ate them growing up a fair bit, and there was something not quite right about these. As Blythe said, they were chilly and a bit… unusual. Nonetheless, we had nice coffee to follow.
To be fair, I think I ordered poorly and that as a whole La P’tite Folie is a good, solid contender for great French fare in the West End. And, should I feel the urge for classic French food in a lovely setting, I could be induced to try again.
Blythe scores La P’tite Folie
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 14.5/20
MJ scores La P’tite Folie
2.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 12/20
Today’s questers were: MJ, Blythe
We ate: cream of parsnip soup, peppered lamb, sea bream and shellfish bouillabaisse
We drank: temperanillo, viognier, water, espresso
We wore: pony pendant, panda tie
Total cost: c.£48