Out into the wilderness once more! (well… I am a north Londoner.) This time we headed to Chez Bruce at Wandsworth Common and it was well worth the trek.
The locals have been enjoying great food here ever since Bruce Poole’s arrival in 1995 and we’ve read a lot about it being the best restaurant in south London. It attracts a refined crowd who are accustomed to eating well and it struck us that many of our fellow diners were a little on the mature side. It was also reassuringly busy for a Tuesday night.
It’s fair to say that we’re not averse to the odd bargain so we were delighted to see that Chez Bruce is so reasonably priced at just £45 for three courses. For a Michelin starred restaurant, this is value indeed. The menu here changes regularly and although it was similar to the sample version on their website, there were a few surprises in store.
The starters were both excellent and really set the tone for the rest of the evening. The warm terrine (of ham hock and black pudding) was earthy and rich. The blood sausage wasn’t overpowering and overall, the dish was very well balanced. The scallop and crab ravioli was buttery and delicious, the pasta thin and perfectly al dente. The brown shrimps and clams in the sauce added a lovely saltiness to the dish without overpowering it. If only there was more! For me this was the outstanding savoury dish of the evening.
By comparison, my skate main course was a little disappointing. It looked very appealing and I could barely wait to take my first bite but the fish was a touch overcooked and I felt the dish was missing something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t wow me. Meanwhile, the Hog was really enjoying his Chinese style pork belly which was unctuous and sticky with fantastic crunchy crackling on top. We both agreed that the best part of this dish was the trotter spring roll, which was meaty and crispy and helped balance out the sweetness of the rest of the dish.
If you come to Chez Bruce, make sure you order a dessert! That’s an order! The hot chocolate pudding came swimming in a pool of cream, chocolate sauce and almonds. What’s not to love about that? The Hog’s dessert, chocolate peanut butter gateau with banana and popcorn tasted amazing and all the elements went together brilliantly. I was initially sceptical to see popcorn on there but credit where credit’s due, it really worked.
The service was friendly and attentive and Chez Bruce is more about classic, good food than pushing boundaries. There was no foam or gel in sight – and that’s no bad thing! Head Chef Matt Christmas has really carried on Bruce Poole’s good work and allows the quality of ingredients to shine through with clever, precise cooking.
All of this comes at a price that won’t break the bank so despite it being in a leafy neighbourhood, somewhat cut off from the rest of London you’ll need to book (even on week nights). I can see why too. Meal for two, including drinks and service £120.
Address: 2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, London, SW17 7EG
Phone: 020 8672 0114
There is also a sister restaurant, The Glasshouse in Kew which like Chez Bruce boasts one star to its name.