Dinner at La Brasserie, London

I like restaurants that no matter what time of day you go, it’s always good. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, drinks – there’ll always be something you want to order. La Brasserie is London’s first all day Fresh restaurant, and definitely one of those places. At happy hour, people are bustling around the bar to place an order for one of their gorgeous cocktails, and brunch on the weekend, there are people lining up around the block waiting for a table. That’s why I was a little (or very) excited when they invited me round for dinner.
It was the day of the massive storm hitting England, and I absolutely loved that they had a Storm-themed cocktail for the occasion. Always finding the positive!

Before you even enter, you’re hit with words like “Champagne Wednesday” and “Half Price Lobster”. Are you kidding me? It sounds like my kinda heaven.

Inside, it’s really spacious with a good mix of people.

Like I mentioned before, they do gorgeous cocktails, and for that, you’d need a pretty hectic bar. This bar was definitely up to it, manned by these cheeky chaps.

Look how pretty!

I’d had a long day at work and was starving.

But lets be honest, this was the most important menu…

I was a sensible little Asian and lined my stomach with some carb-loving. There was no point trying to resist baguette anyway.

It was a good job I did as well, as things were about to get very delicious. I ordered the La Brasserie Martini & Oyster as it sounded the most interesting. It was belvedere, elderflower cordial, chateau bligny champagne, a twist of grapefruit and a fresh oyster on the side. They didn’t have any oysters as it was a Monday and they get them in super fresh, but before I could open my mouth to order a different one, they’d so kindly rushed out to the restaurant next door to pick up an oyster for me. Did somebody say Princess Bianca?

The oyster arrived in a martini glass of ice, accompanied by some condiments for me to decorate it as I pleased.

I can pretend to be all sophisticated, but I wasn’t really sure how to do it, I’ll be honest. Do I have the oyster then drink the martini? I assumed that was the case and went for it. Fake it ’till you make it, right?

My cocktail was ludicrously good. My date for the night was one of my favourite boys ever, Pilcher, who was on reading week from university so was back in London, hooray! He’s not a cocktail fan at all, but decided to go for the French Hendricks Martini, made with Hendricks gin, fresh lime juice, gomme syrup and champagne.

Okay, like I said, Pilcher isn’t keen on cocktails. But he absolutely loved this cocktail. He wouldn’t stop raving about how good it was!

Now that my martini-craving was satisfied, we ordered our food and asked the waiter what full-bodied red was drinking well. He suggested this little gem…

What an angel. I’m glad I trusted him, as it was very good – perfect with our beefy mains coming up. I was tempted to ordered the Frogs Legs, but instead I was a sucker for my old favourite, scallops. I started with the St. Jacques, which was seared scallops, pea pureée, red pepper coulis and crispy pancetta.

Although I prefer pancetta in its normal form, the pea purée and scallops went magically together. The part I enjoyed the most though was the red pepper coulis as I’d never had anything like it before!

Pilcher ordered the Terrine de Canard – Course duck paté served with red onion marmalade.

He thought the paté itself could do with more flavour, but it was the brioche stole the show.

I got insanely jealous after I’d vacuumed up my hors d’oeuvre. 

Pilcher very sweetly made me my own little piece. God, I love red onion marmalade.

Although Pilcher wasn’t overly keen on his starter, his said that his big, fat fillet steak more than made up for it. It was deliciously juicy.

And everyone knows chips from France are the best. They’re not French fries for no reason. Or, you know, frites.

He tucked in, and I didn’t hear another peep from him until his plate was licked clean.

Since winter was slowly creeping upon us and it started getting cold (aka hello, scarf season), I wanted something that would warm me right up. Their boeuf bourguignon did just that. It’s tender beef in red wine sauce, bacon, button mushrooms with pomme pureé (mashed potatoes, for you uncultured things).

It was heavenly. Pilcher and I agreed that it was the kind of meal that we’d have always wanted our Mums to have made for us when we came home for a weekend from boarding school. It was such comforting, winter food. And you know it’s good when I grab a piece of bread to mop up the rest of the sauce. Or perhaps I seem to use any excuse for another bit of baguette.

We were full, but found it nearly impossible to pass up on dessert. We had so much wine left, it just made sense to order some to keep it company. It’d be so lonely otherwise!

Classic Pilcher ordered the cheese board. What better to go with his red?

I was stuck for choice, but the waiter highly recommended the crème brûlée with ginger. I was a little hesitant, but he seemed so confident about it, and he was right about the wine so I had no reason to doubt the man.

God, he’s good. It was clearly their winning dessert as it was absolutely fantastic.

The ginger wasn’t overpowering at all, which it so easily can be, but was enough to give it an amazing flavour and complimented the dessert beautifully.

The waiter also got me a plate to have a bit of Pilcher’s cheese board. I seem to just be stealing all of his food, being the greedy little piggy that I am.

Dessert was finished far too quickly, and I was a little upset, I’ll be honest. Until little mint chocolate discs was brought out with Pilcher’s espresso and my green tea. I love them! They were always my favourite when I was younger when my parents would give them to me at the table when they ordered coffees.

My green tea detoxes the chocolates, right?

We’d been treated like a king and queen all evening, and it was time to head out and battle the gusty winds. However, instead of the door, I was swept off to behind the bar to be taught how to make espresso martinis, which happen to currently be my favourite thing! Alex, one of the bartenders, does a cocktail masterclass here on the last Sunday of every month at 30 pounds a head, so he thought he’d give me a sneak preview.

I’d like to think I was a natural.

Photos were snapped away and I suddenly tried my hardest not to spill anything. A couple of vodka shots, a shot of Kahlua, an espresso shot and a dash of vanilla syrup later, I (with some great direction from Alex) had created a beauty. Look at that pouring movement. You don’t learn this overnight, kids. Or, well, you can in a few minutes, apparently.

It was so yummy that I couldn’t believe I’d made it myself. I’ve become a bit of an espresso martini snob recently, and this was one of the best I’ve had, probably down to the vanilla! I had these champions to thank for that.

Alex taught me that when people shake their cocktails, it’s their sex face. I became suddenly very self-conscious about my facial expression whilst shaking, and could no longer keep a straight face when he made a cocktail! He sweetly whipped out an espresso martini for Pilcher, although I’d like to think that mine was just as good.

Seb came along to join us at a perfect time. Like I said before, Pilcher isn’t a cocktail man. However, there’s now always a space in his heart for this French Hendricks Martini – his new all-time favourite. Seb quite gladly took his espresso martini, and agreed that it was one of, if not the best, that he’d had.

I’d been dying to try the rest of their cocktails, since they’d all been so good. I asked for the Wild Berry Martini, which was vodka, lychee juice, wild berry purée and lime juice. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything with lychee, and mixed with berry, it had to be a winner.

It was a lot sweeter than the others, but I like it sweet, so I loved it. It was thick too because of the purée, so it made a perfect after-dinner treat.

I was one happy girl. I’ll see you by the bar; a ginger crème brûlée in one hand and various martinis in the other.

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