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Le Cassoulet

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Malcolm John has taken a bit of a chance and opened up a second restaurant in Croydon to add to his Chiswick restaurant Le Vacherin. This may not be the biggest event on the culinary calendar but I can safely say that it is pretty much the biggest event in the culinary calendar in Croydon, possible the biggest event in the last decade. Set back a little from Croydon High Street and the string of crappy restaurants (a branch of Mirch Masala aside) where there is little in the way of serious food, Le Cassoulet may have a job convincing the Croydon hoardes to spend a bit more than the usual £20 per head but simply trying is to be commended.

Ballotine of Foie Gras, Apple, Endives and Golden Raisins, Brioche was decent enough but could needed to be out pf the fridge a little longer before serving, a little more tartness from the apple would have been appreciated but overall it was pretty good. Cassoulet, Duck & pork was also a decent dish though for me the underlying smokiness of the dish was overpowered by very strong garlic. This was otherwise a generous dish with good pieces of duck and pork and nicely cooked beans.

The other half had an enjoyable Onion soup, followed by Lamb Pencil fillet, beetroot, carrots, Boulangere. The lamb looked as though it was the smaller of the fillets from the saddle so they need to keep an eye on overcooking, here it was just the wrong side of pink but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor problem.

Pain perdu aux Prunes d’Agen finished dinner, in a satisfying way, lovely plump Prunes and well judged sweetness.

Overall a decent meal, it is a very traditional Bistro menu and I would like to see service mirror that by becoming a little more casual, some of the wait staff seemed unduly nervous, perhaps their first night and hopefully this will settle down in due course. Certainly worth a repeat visit and a welcome addition to Croydon. :smile:

Website here

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée £4.95

Baked Vacherin, with Truffle & Almond Crust (for two)

Served with Bayonne Ham, Pickles, Celeriac Rémoularde, Ratte Potatoes £20.00

Potted Ham Hock, Dijon Mustard Gherkins, Toast £6.00

Shallot & Goat's Cheese Tart £6.50

Six Fine de Claire Oysters £10.00

Warm Salad of Diver Caught Scallops, Black Pudding & Alsace Bacon £7.95

Ballotine of Foie Gras, Apple, Endives & Golden Raisins, Brioche £10.50

Escargots de Bourgogne £6.95/ £10.50

Steak Tartare & Condiments £10.00

Beignets of Lamb Sweetbreads Sauce Gribiche £7.25

Moules Marnières £5.95

Cassoulet, Duck & Pork £14.00

Bourride of Seabream, squid, Mussels & Aïoli £12.50

28 Day aged Châteaubriand

Roast Bone Marrow & Green Beans, Frites (for two) £36.00

Whole grilled Lemon sole, Tartare sauce £15.00

Cote de Boeuf, sauce poivre or béarnaise £17.00

Fillet of Wild Seabass & Salsify Gratin £16.50

Roasted Black leg chicken, sauce Coq au vin, creamed potatoes (for two) £28.00

Confit Pork Belly, Parsnip pureé, Puy Lentils £14.95

Pumpkin Ravioli, Sage, pinenuts, brown butter £10.50

Lamb pencil fillet, beetroot, carrots, Boulangère £13.95

Red wine poached duck egg, flat mushrooms, bone marrow toast £10.95

Joue de Boeuf Braisée à la Bourguignonne £14.00

Valrohna Chocolate Fondant, Amaretto Ice-Cream £6.50

Apple Fritters with Vanilla Ice-Cream

served with 25ml of Calvados £6.25

Ile Flottante £5.50

Crème Brûlée £5.95

Custard tart with Nutmeg ice-cream £5.25

Tarte Tatin et Glace Vanille (for two) £14.00

Pain Perdu aux Prunes d'Agen £5.95

Choix de Glace et Sorbet £4.95

Assiette de Fromages £6.95

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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It is massive! Croydon is a culinary wasteland despite a huge catchment area and pleanty of money around. We are stuck with a whole street full of your typical cheap Italian/Tapas/ French (actually the French place is seen as the height of sophisitication by some people I work with). Even Smollenskys couldn't survive in Croydon High street, I hope that Le Cassoulet can buck the trend.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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It is an understatement to say that I am overexcited about this news - the menu looks lovely - great simple but tasty bistro food. If they can iron out the small execution problems you mention Matthew (probably just teething I suspect) then it will be a real gem - well actually it will be a gem either way

The other day we went into our little local hardware shop where we were initially thrilled to hear that the owner had also moved to southeast London with the view that things were 'on the up' and he was just waiting to cash in when the hoards finally descended. We were somewhat deflated when he then told us that was 20 years ago. He's still waiting.... :huh:

Anyway - back on topic - this is brilliant news and Mr O and I will be there on the double - will share our views shortly

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  • 2 weeks later...

A less successful meal here last night. Service is a big problem for me here. A request for a different table and another for a starter portion of a Ravioli dish listed under main courses were dealt with by the maitre d' in a very awkward fashion that left us feeling like naughty schoolchildren.

As it was a single Pumpkin ravioli was charged at £5.50, a main course one was £10.50, apparently the main course only contains three ravioli which means that it is getting on for River Cafe prices without getting anywhere near the quality!

Another service error included a request for a Carafe of Sauvignon Blanc and we were then bought a carafe of red wine supposedly because we had requested Cabernet Sauvignon. The girl bringing the bread just couldn't work out where to put the bread and butter and it was moved several times before she was happy and she handled a water bottle as though it was made of diamonds she looked very scared!

A starter of Baked vacherin with an almond and truffle crust served with Bayonne ham, potatoes and pickles was a good hearty starter

A main course of the lamb pencil fillets looked like regular loin this time, it was requested pink but came out verging on rare, the sauce was once again over reduced. Roast Black leg chicken was bought to the table whole with sprigs of rosemary, sticking out the top like a couple of sparklers. It was set on fire and smelt like Marijuana as it smoldered away. It was held in front of us and we were asked "do you like the way we have cooked your chicken?" As I hadn't tried it was a little hard to tell. As it was it hadn't been allowed to rest properly and the breast was a little overcooked, though not as much as the wings which were actually burnt . The accompanying Coq au Vin sauce came in a little copper pot and was topped with a slice of foie gras and was nicely smokey, very nice.

Desserts were a mixed affair, my chocolate fondant with amaretto ice cream was good, however I thought Illes Flottante a little disappointing, the meringue not sweet enough and tasting a little eggy. A custard tart had horribly pale, limp pastry. When the bill was presented I was told that they hadn't charged me for the carafe of Red wine that I didn't order. Well thanks for that!

I get the feeling that this is a restaurant that doesn't know where to pitch itself. If it wants to be more formal then it needs to up the service massively, it felt incredibly awkward and fidgety when the restaurant was full last night. IMO they would be better off trying to be a little more relaxed and friendly, maybe they need to smoke some of the rosemary before service. :laugh:

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I ate here again on Thursday courtesy of Malcolm John, I paid for the drinks though I was comped champagne and Armagnac.

I won't go into too much detail with the food which is resolutely solid bistro food, no bells and whistles which isn't to say that there isn't good food to be had, far from it.

Frogs legs Beignets were actually Tempura and came with Sauce Gribiche. Garlic soup had smoked duck running through it. A Cote Du Boeuf for one person was nicely grilled with decent charring and decent frites. Shoulder of Rabbit was served with Mustard sauce. Desserts of Iles Flottante and Creme caramel rounded off a good meal.

Service was far more relaxed this time, I think they are feeling a little more settled and not under so much pressure. We spent a fair amount of time talking to Malcolm after our meal, a nice guy who seems to genuinely care if people have had a poor meal which can only bode well for the future.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the update, I will be giving Le Cassoulet a try for lunch on Friday, hope it is good as I am taking my mother there for her birthday.

Will report back here.

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I went there during his first fortnight and I was quite impressed. So much so that I took dear old Mum and co on mothers day which wasn't so great; the waitress had a fairly rudimentary grasp of English to say the least, the kitchen had bitten off more than it could chew and by the time we ate they were running out of materials so that my goats cheese tart came with two, yes two, sad pieces of brown edged iceberg lettuce. Yuk. One diner there wore his baseball hat the whole meal through and I wanted to do what Tony Soprano did and march over and make him take the thing off. Of course I didn't though. His fully tattooed arm suggested he might not have taken my suggestion all that well.

It's my home town, South Croydon, indeed I went to the school around the corner. I like to think South Croydon is a cut above Croydon. It is, after all, on the way to Purley!

Malcolm lives close by, I'm sure he's enjoying not having to drive to Chiswick and back each day.

I shall probably go back as I live in S London and I like Malcolm's cooking.


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