It’s a myth that the best restaurants in London can only be found in the centre of the town; in fact, many are off the tourist trail in London’s more residential neighbourhoods. Michelin-starred Chez Bruce is the perfect example of an exceptional local restaurant, situated on a street opposite Wandsworth Common. It’s so local you could almost walk straight past it. Bruce Poole and his team have been serving up high-end French/Mediterranean cuisine here since 1995, and it’s been drawing crowds from all over London.
Chez Bruce is perfect for a special occasion, but it’s also great for a weekend lunch date because of its relaxed setting. It’s Saturday and you and your partner arrive at the restaurant. You’re eagerly greeted by smiling staff who take your coats and hang them up at the top of the stairs, giving you the impression that you’re having lunch at a friend’s house, not in a restaurant. As you’re led into the dining room, you still feel like a guest in somebody’s home. The dining room, with its white walls and tablecloths, soft lighting, black chairs, and mirrors, succeeds in being professional and immaculate, yet warm and informal.
Once seated, you tuck into some delicious, melt-in-your-mouth Parmesan biscuits. Choosing a wine from the 750-strong list could be slightly daunting, but your knowledgeable sommelier helps you make the right choice. While you peruse the menu, your waiter offers you warm, homemade bread and soft salty butter to whet your appetite. With the three-course lunch menu, you have around seven different options per course. You agree to order contrasting dishes to get the most out of the menu—you want it all.
You choose the salmorejo with Iberico chorizo and pine nuts: a cold tomato and bread purée that’s garnished with diced chorizo, pine nuts, and diced hard-boiled eggs. The softness of the purée combined with the chewiness of the chorizo and eggs are a delight. Your partner orders the delicately spiced fishcakes with tomato and ginger chutney, yoghurt, and saffron. For mains, you opt for the grilled beef with rosemary chips, courgettes, chanterelles, rocket, and Parmesan. The beef is as soft as butter; the rosemary chips are crispy and perfectly seasoned, and the chanterelles give the sauce a real depth. Your partner has the duck magret with cherries, sarladaise potato (potatoes cooked in duck fat with garlic and parsley), endive salad, and green peppercorns. You both agree the cherry flavoured sauce is surprisingly subtle and an impeccable match for the duck.
You want dessert, and your partner fancies the cheeseboard, so you opt for the hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait. You close your eyes to enjoy your first mouthful. The cheeseboard is huge, and you’re both amazed as your waiter moves tables to accommodate it. He tells you that you can have as many as you like, describing every single cheese on the board. You can’t fit them all in, but what better excuse do you both need to come back?