Brasserie Zédel reminds me of a huge and upscale dining room which belongs to an ocean liner (I’ve never been on one but I’ve seen The Poseidon Adventure countless times). Thankfully the class tradition of the latter has been done away with at BZ. Here, the relaxed and egalitarian dining experience prevails as expected of any worthy brasserie.
Authenticity relating to Parisian brasseries is admirably maintained by the predominantly French speaking waiting staff wearing “le rondin (a black waistcoat with many pockets) and the long white apron”, white linen on tables, assured service and of course, “le menu”. The menu is of the love-at-first-sight category, tantalisingly embrace-able and excellent value for money (some of the dishes are cheap as chips).
Oh, if the likes of tomatoes & shallot salad or cold poached fillet of salmon sound more sophisticated and romantic than salade de tomate à l’échalote or Saumon ‘Belle-Vue’ et sa macédoine respectively then your prerogative is granted. A menu in English exists for that reason.
I've been here a few times now, so the low-down about the grub follows-
Uncouth I may be but I thought the baguettes were more memorable than a Poilâne Loaf!
Cuisses de grenouille.
Two pairs of legs, they were tender, sweet and propelled immeasurably by the garlicky and intense parsley sauce. There was none of the usual watery-chicken texture I normally associate with frog legs detected here.
Soupe de poisson et sa rouille
Brilliant fish soup. Who needs the Provence when one can delight in a faithful rendition of a definitive Mediterranean dish at 15m below sea level in grubby London Town instead!
Soupe du jour.
Of leeks and potatoes, can’t go wrong with that, be it canned or freshly made.
Escargots au beurre persillé
There was no middle ground present in this dish, the parsley separated on its own like an antisocial bugger, the snails tasted like previously-chewed-flavourless-and-thus-discarded-fruit gums and there was the despondency surrounding the neat Pernod. The latter was somewhat just chucked in huge quantities and not flambéed; the whole dish ended up unnecessarily intoxicating as well as a big fail.
Talking of snails, my daughter was freaked out by the presence of the winkles and whelks on the plateau de fruits de mer. But she did enjoy the briny oysters, plump prawns, “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” cockles, sweet Palourde clams, the muscley mussels and the all-important mignonette sauce. I thought the platter was an absolute bargain!
Confit de canard, pommes sautées à l’ail
It was really good as it gets. In other words the duck was crispy, robustly flavoured and the meat falling off the bone with ease.
A marvellously well proportioned dish that was additionally generous and effectively bargainous. The choucroute was quite possibly my second most favourite dish at BZ after the malodorous but majestic Andouillette de Troyes.
The choucroute garnie consisted of the following-
Belly of pork served two ways; cured (deliciously fatty and buttery) and smoked (crack-like slices of Montbéliard sausages).
An alarmingly incandescent-looking frankfurter that was otherwise quite out of this world.
Boiled spuds- they were proper and all.
Sauerkraut- far too much in quantity for yours truly to finish. It was less acidic than the German variety and so by default, certainly less of an acquired taste. A win-win situation I’d say.
Steak haché, sauce au poivre et frites.
Technically a well-cooked and well-seasoned burger served without a bun. It came with a bowl of average fries (would’ve been hugely better if Corbin and King replaced them with Le Caprice's celebrated pommes allumettes instead) and the most amazing pepper sauce I’ve tasted for a long time.
Incidentally this chopped steak dish is also BZ’s cheapest mains on the menu at £7.50.
Thursday’s plat du jour of boudin noir aux pommes.
It was just ok, an extra sausage wouldn’t go amiss and besides one and a half apples on the plate were way too sweet for comfort.
I might be biased but no boudin noir will ever compare to the coarser, full-bodied and more delectable black puddings of Bury and Stornoway any day.
Friday’s plat du jour of marmite de poissons.
It was lamentably bland and positively dull. It was a dish created for those poor souls who suffer from a fear of flying and given the chance to taste the plainest of plane food without the need of experiencing airport security or let alone put their seatbelts on.
Poor, poor, poor beyond belief!
Carrelet meunière, pommes vapeur
No plaice like chez BZ…the French are good at cooking fish. Perfect.
Pâtisseries et Desserts:
Baba au Rhum.
It wasn’t as moist or as drowned as the ones found lurking next to the skewers of raw meat in a kebab joint but at least it had real rum.
For that reason alone, it was entirely passable.
Profiteroles au chocolat chaud
A nigh on magnet of a dish to attract the lurch of tourists meandering in and around Piccadilly Circus!
BTW, the cream puffs were stonkingly good!
Millefeuille à la vanille
The two layers of crème pâtissière were too thick and heavy going, and the icing on top was preposterously replaced!
BZ is also the home of the best praline éclairs this side of Paris.
20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED