This review starts off with an admission of faulty judgement and ends with drunken meal joy.
A picky Parisian friend was bringing his new girlfriend over to London for the weekend so my girlfriend (a picky New Yorker) and I offered to arrange the meals for them. It began with a standardly brilliant breakfast at The Modern Pantry at which I found out his girlfriend was (i) Parisian (ii) liked champagne (iii) wanted to go clubbing in West London and (iv) liked champagne. At this stage I got nervous as for Saturday night I had booked Fernandez & Leluu’s supper club in London Fields.
On re examining the menu they posted online I started to get really nervous; frogs’ legs (for French people?!?), a Vietnamese inspired menu with pineapple and catfish thrown together. Was this going to be an unholy mess? Was the new girlfriend going to demand champagne and the soothing (boring) streets of West London?
Fortunately for me, I was completely and utterly wrong. It transpires that Fernandez & Leluu are both far better cooks than me (and most venues in London) and far far better at considering innovative flavour pairings than I (oh, and can cook frogs’ legs well enough to wow a French person).
In a true over reviewing style, I’ll start at the beginning and fade out towards the end (as that is when my enjoyment of the meal interfered with my memory).
Course 1 – hot sweet sour soup with catfish, tomatoes, pineapple & beansprouts. As soon as I tasted this I relaxed. Not only could L&F cook, they could cook with a leftfield bent and still pull it off. As good as many of the equivalents I have had in Vietnam.
Course 2 – frog’s legs terriyaki with Vietnamese parsley & sweet basil seed cocktail. This is when you realised that F&L had a visual background in photography. The sweet basil seed cocktail made you squirm with how akin it was to frog spawn.
Course 3 – Vietnamese spring rolls with pork, king prawns, black fungus & glass noodles. Have you ever tried to make spring rolls? I have, I failed brutally. So do most restaurants and they ship them in frozen. These were nearly as good as Song Que’s on Kingsland Road. Apparently they stayed up until 1 or 2 am the night before making them.
Course 4 – cubed tuna sashimi with soya sauce, ginger & spring onions & Ferdie chips. I cannot overstate how good the chips were. Indeed, I could get histrionic about them. Combine that with sashimi from Steve Hatt and you know not only can these guys cook, they can source (as Steve Hatt is one of only two places you can properly get sashimi grade fish in London). You also realise this is an endeavour of love, as Steve Hatt is the gold leaf and ultramarine of quality fish and comes at the same price.
Course 5 – seared peppered fillet of beef with sugar snap peas, cucumber salad & kabocha squash salad with satsuma, sake, soya & mirin dressing. Perfectly seared, perfectly seasoned, perfectly dressed.
Course 6 – Red Curry With Chicken & Butternut Squash Served w/ Steamed Rice. This was the point my Parisian friend glazed over and after 6 courses still asked for more.
Course 7 – matcha green tea ice cream with ginger biscuits. Sublime.
Well what can I say, when we stumbled out of there at 12:30/ 1:00 we were converts. I am organising my next visit right now. The only thing I regret is not bringing enough money for a bigger tip as though they don’t ask for a tip (in fact I think they actually seemed to forget to ask most people for their “donation” for the super club at all) food like this deserves praise and reward. Indeed, food like this with an atmosphere of such charm, warmth and friendliness almost makes you want to give the hostess a bottle of champagne on walking in (which my Parisian friends would have no doubt agreed with).
To not appear like a fanboy I have to pick out the “bad” bits of the meal. Well… there were a few delays so it was a leisurely meal (not something that matters to me and I would rather that than a curtailed kerplow of an experience) and there was, by the end, a rather loud drunk person at my table. Unfortunately that turned out to be me.
- Price – £not quite sure but between 20 and 30 but it deserves more
- Address – the location is somewhere secret up by London Fields
PS: the picture was loaned by The Grubworm as my efforts on the night were grotty rubbish. But you hopefully read his blog already.