Thursday, October 18, 2007

Angelus - heavenly foie

For the previous hour, the escapade to west London in search of foie gras crème brule had seemed like a very terrible idea. They shut the central line just as we got to the tube entrance, and what should have been a simple hop on the tube turned into a nightmare journey featuring three buses, a sprint along High Holborn past stationary traffic and a very uncomfortable, overcrowded one-stop on the tube. But, ensconced on a comfy dark red leather banquette and taking my first sip of quickly proffered champagne (£7.50), I knew we'd made the right decision. Angelus was just gorgeous. The tap water came in those cute little pastis bottles and was re-filled unbidden. The service was very helpful and elegant without being overly stuffy. The white walls were decorated with the most glorious mirror in an art-nouveau curvy wooden frame, and matchingly encased prints of elegant French ladies. It reminded me of a more modern, less OTT version of Julien, one of my favourite Parisian brasseries. The menu (as the lady, I was almost expecting to receive the version without prices - it was that kind of place) is actually surprisingly reasonable. Starters in the £5-10 range, and nearly all mains under the £20 mark. The long wine list, focussing on France, also featured a surprising number of bottles under £30 and some for as little as £13. We decided to experiment with a macon for £21, which was nice but not stunning. Obviously, I had the crème brule (£9). It came in a wide byt shallow plate, a circle of creamy, speckled brownness ensconced in a halo of snow-white china. There was a pleasing crack as I broke through the sweet caramel top to reveal silky smooth liver pate underneath. It was gorgeous, and almost too delicate for the accompanying brown toast. (Though it was still *just* foie gras, and if I am really honest, I was a teensy bit disappointed as I was expecting some fairy magic.) The husband's egg cocotte (£7) came in a tall martini glass crammed with wild mushrooms and luscious, orange egg gooiness. There was plenty of bread on offer from the bread basket to mop up every last bit of the juices. Next, came a pie of rabbit with foie gras and port (£18) with a decent house read (£4 a glass). Again, it looked stunning, served with a slice cut out and set slightly aside. It was also the nicest rabbit I've ever had (not quite as grand a claim as it sounds, as I've probably only had rabbit half a dozen times in my life). The dover sole (£21) was also very good, and the whole lot came with some buttery mash on the side. This review is starting to sound too sycophantic, so I shall mention that the lettuce (both with the starter and the main) was too bitter for my taste, and largely left uneaten. The cheese plate (£9) was also perhaps a little underwhelming, but by then the flavours were a little dulled by the alcohol :-)
Now all I need is another excuse for a celebration to justify a return visit to my bank balance. And it looks like we might have to make another trip out west soon to check out the new St John wannabe.

Angelus, 4 Bathurst Street, W2 2SD ; Tel. 020 7402 0083; Tube: Lancaster Gate

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