Last week I met my lovely friend Claire for a long-overdue catch up. She wanted to meet somewhere central, near a tube station and not too expensive, so I suggested Brasserie Zédel, a new French restaurant in Piccadilly Circus.
Brasserie Zédel is the brainwave from Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, the guys behind the Wolseley and Delaunay, and is housed in the basement of the former Regent Palace Hotel. As you pass through the small bar area at the front door, you descend down the stairs into…well, Paris!
There are three rooms…the cabaret room, the bar and finally the brassiere. You’re immediately greeted by very friendly, smiley staff and then you notice the room itself…its huge! Marble and gold pillars, wood-panelled walls, velvet upholstery and parquet flooring set the tone of this beautiful room.
I was shown to a table by the bar since I was a walk-in, and was warmly welcomed by our waitress for the evening. Claire was running a little late so it was nice opportunity to take in my surroundings while I waited.
The room itself is quite brightly lit, surprising seeing as its underground. Even more surprisingly, this didn’t annoy me, and I usually hate brightly-lit restaurants. There is a constant sense of hustle and bustle…customers coming and going, waiters and waitresses going back and forth from the kitchen, and people assembling and gossiping at the bar.
When Claire arrived, we ordered wine and water, which arrived in branded water bottles.
Glancing over the menu, the first thing that jumps out is how reasonably priced it is. Their soup du jour is only £2.25! The cheapest soup you’ll get at Eat is £3. It is typically French fare…escargots, frisée with lardons, pâté de champagne, steak haché, boeuf bourguignon, duck confit…you get the picture.
Seeing as it was freezing outside, Claire and I both decided to order the French onion soup to start. We asked the waitress if it was good and we got a refreshingly honest answer…“Hmmm…it depends what day it is”. She said it was wonderful the first time she tried it but she’s tried it a few times since and it needed more seasoning. We decided to go ahead anyway.
She was right…it needed more seasoning. But once it had that, it was delicious. Perfect for a freezing cold evening. Had I not been with Claire, I would have wanted more of the cheese croutons, you only get two very small ones, and they’re on the side. Claire didn’t want hers so luckily, I got four.
For our mains, I went for the salmon fillet with leeks and butter sauce (£12.75). This was lovely. I adore salmon anyway but this was perfectly cooked and fell apart beautifully. I eat a lot of salmon but usually try to make it healthy by having it poached or grilled with a salad. It was a sumptuous treat to have it sautéed and served with a butter sauce.
Claire opted for sautéed chicken with bacon, flat noodles and champagne sauce (£14.50). I tried this and it was really very good. The chicken was incredibly moist and tender and full of flavour. I would probably order this next time I go.
I thought at this point we would be made to move since we were told when we sat down that we could only have the table for 2 hours. When I mentioned this to our waitress, she said that since we were sitting at the bar area, we could stay as long as we wanted! (I liked this girl). So I decided to order a pudding. The dessert menu includes tarte au citron, crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce, vanilla millefeuille…all my favourites. But I was quite full at this point and fancied something light so I ordered Ile Flottante (£3.50).
Poached meringue floating on a bed of crème anglaise and drizzled with caramel…
This was truly wonderful. As it was placed in front of me Claire commented that it looked like New Year’s Eve on a plate! The crème anglaise was peppered with brightly coloured chopped nuts.
The meringue was as light as air and so fluffy and full of vanilla, it was divine. It felt like being enveloped in a cloud of vanilla and then having to eat my way out!
The first hit you got was the sweetness then a few second later you were hit again, this time, with vanilla. It was one of the best desserts I have ever had. I would go back to Brasserie Zédel for this alone.
I loved Brasserie Zédel and will definitely be back. Our waitress really made our night. She was friendly, funny and very honest and I loved that. Yes, there is nothing new or different about the food here, but its comforting and very tasty, served in a beautiful dining room by fantastic staff…and all at Café Rouge prices! Its a treat to have this place in Piccadilly Circus, where there are so many terrible touristy restaurants.
If you fancy a trip to Paris, in London, this is the place to go.
20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
020 7734 4888