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Roussillon Redux


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Despite its Michelin-starred status (one star), I have not heard much discussion of Roussillon on this board.  It is in Pimlico, around the corner from Hunan.

In my opinion, Roussillon offers great value, especially when compared with comparable restaurants in London, New York or Paris.  Roussillon is a somewhat formal restaurant, but very relaxed.  Service is French, but more country-French -- very warm and accomodating.  The room itself is minimalistic and there is no background music (a relief).  Tables are well-spaced and service is attentive.  We spent nearly 3 1/2 hours there last Saturday, and we could have stayed longer.  This place truly caters to the consumer.

The food:

Amuse -- squid in its own ink with broad beans

Starters - (1) green asparagus and morels sauteed together,

grated cheshire cheese and veal jus, (2) purple artichoke, green pea, courget, cos lettuce and lovage cooked in a pot with bone marrow, light meat jus, (3) steamed white asparagus with creamed morel, (4) morel risotto, veal jus.

Mains -- (1) grilled tubot, thick slices of carrots, raw young onions and isle of wight garlic leaves, simple jus, (2) dover sole "meunière" on the bone, capers and tender thin leeks, brown butter, (3) wild garlic crusted dorset lamb, seared spring vegetables; a pot of jersey royal potatoes.

Desserts -- (1) Chocolate Souffle, (2) Lemon Souffle, (3) Tarte Tatin for two cooked to order.

Wine -- Baumard Savennieres, Marchand Chambolle

Petit Fours -- lemon tarts, chocolate truffles

Simply a great meal.  All the dishes were way above average and quite consistent.  I had planned to share my wife's sole, but the lamb was too good to share.  All of the dishes are roughly the same size, and you can order as many courses as you want.  

2 Courses - £29.00

3 Courses - £35.00

4 Courses - £42.00

A final note for bread lovers -- the bread tray is loaded with approximately 8 different varieties, all baked on premises and all very good indeed.

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I am perhaps not the best person to answer this question, as I rarely eat more than 2 courses at any given meal.  So I really like smaller portions, as I get to order more things.  That said, everyone at the table was quite full and satisfied after 3 courses and 4 courses would have been out of the questions, at least for me.  That said, the four course price is pretty reasonable as well.

The only comparison I can give is to a NY restaurant, March.  The portions at Roussillon are a bit larger than theirs (they also have done away with the starter/mains distinction).

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I ate at Roussillon twice last year and although the first visit was enjoyable, I must admit the second was a disaster. My wife's monkfish was overcooked and frankly disgusting. I hope things have improved as I liked the ambience and the waiting staff were very good. The wine list was also excellent including as it does on of my favourites - the Macon-Clesse from Thevenet (also available at the Fat Duck in the rare botrytised form)

Gav

"A man tired of London..should move to Essex!"

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  • 3 months later...

I ate at Roussillon about 10 days ago.

I arrived at around 9.15pm after flying back from Amsterdam and having checked into one of the smallest hotel rooms in London at the Rochester Grange Hotel in Rochester Row (note to self:avoid like the plague in future).

Although hungry and thirsty, I was not really in the mood for a formal meal, due to a hugely enjoyable evening at Cafe Roux in Amsterdam the night before (report to follow), a long day at work and a fairly long and relatively difficult journey back to London which is too boring to go into. All I really wanted to do was crash out in front of the tele with some comfort food from room service. But the cell like dimensions of the room mitigated against that course of action and out I went into the Pimlico night.

However, I soon perked up when I rounded the corner at Ranelagh Grove and into St Barnabas Street and spotted the elegant white bow windowed frontage of Roussillon. It looked every inch the sort of smart London neighbourhood restaurant that I like best. The interior is as mogsob reported, and you can see it for yourself here, just click on 360 interior.

Front of house consisted of one rather attractive and assured (female) restaurant manager, and two quite nervous commis waiters and a sommelier. Service was attentive and well intentioned if not highly polished. There were only two or three other tables occupied that night (which is not a good sign on a Thursday night in the height of summer I would say) so it was not stretched. I wondered how they would fair at a busier time.

The evening began well with a bowl of baby veg and mustard dip to accompany a selection from the 6 or so home baked breads offered. These were good but not up to the standard of somewhere like Hibiscus.

The amuse was a single tiny baby beetroot covered in slivers of summer truffle and a balsamic dressing, which was quite lovely and maybe the most successful dish of the entire meal.

Ordering from the carte is interesting as you can have whatever you like in a starter or main course portion, except those dishes listed under "Land" which must be main courses. I went for the sea bass with squid, fennel and ink dressing. This was less intersting than it sounded. Although all elements were nicely cooked and well seasoned, the flavours just didn't sparkle for some reason.

Similarly a main course of pot roast rack of veal with semi dried peaches, glazed carrots and chard was nice enough but less than the sum of its parts. The meat was particularly disappointing as I could see no evidence that it was either pot roasted or a rack. It came as boned medalions that could quite easily have been simply pan seared and roasted in the ususal restaurant fashion. It tasted fine though, if not what I was expecting. Although again each element on the plate had been well prepared, they failed to gel into a cohesive whole.

Pre dessert was a large scoop of apricot sorbet, most of which I left, but which was very nice never the less. A fig tart with vanilla ice cream was fine, but did not delight.

Although overall I left slightly underwhelmed, Roussillon would be a wonderful place for a long and boozy late summer lunch, with the sun streaming in through all that glass. Especially as they only charge around £17 a head at that time of day.

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  • 1 month later...

One year into the London experience I have confirmed that Roussillon is my favourite London restaurant. Less formal than the Capital. More convenient that Chez Bruce. Far less expensive than Tante Claire and Le Gavroche. For me (a transplanted NYer), it has replaced Gramercy Tavern as my default upscale meal, casual business dinner option.

Here's what I had last Saturday:

1. Open Ravioli of Elizabeth David's Jugged Hare

2. White Truffle Risotto

3. Roasted Cut of Highland Venison, Poached Willams Pear, Caramelised Pumpkin and Truffled Celeriac Purée

4. Pear Souffle

For white truffle fans, there is a nice truffle menu at present. My only complaint is that the shaving was done in the kitchen and not table side.

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Well, I've been called stuffy before, but not middle-aged (at least not yet!).

It is far less stuffy, though, than its competition (Gavroche, Tante Claire, Captial etc.), although not nearly as casual as others (e.g., Ransome's Dock). I think it strikes a nice balance.

As for cost, check out their website, which has all of their menus and current pricing. A full meal with a nice, but not overly expensive wine, generally runs about 200 pounds for two.

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  • 7 months later...

Has anyone been to this restaurant in pimlico.. just wondered what it was like

Looks attractive since my girlfriend is veggie and it can be hard to splash out on posh dinner for a veggie. Rousillon apparently has a whole menu (same price I think as other menus) for veggies.

sometimes you just want to spend a good amount of cash on food. I am a bit bored of going to italian restaurants where it seems the posher they are the less veggie friendly food they have other than risotto...

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My boyfriend took me there for my birthday at the end of last year. We had an excellent meal and I am happy to confirm the following:

Not stuffy.

We arrived in the middle of a rainstorm, sopping wet, half-cut and laden with plastic bags full of wrapped birthday presents. They didn't bat an eyelid. Very chilled out, in fact - they were happy for me to open the presents one-by-one at my table (making a noise and a mess in the process).

Portion size.

I didn't think the portions were small at all. Both of us pigged out - & struggled to finish our puds. Mind you, we did have a 6-7 course menu.

Vegetarians.

For quality of food, this must be one of the best places in London for veggies. We were shown 2 menus - one for veggies, one for non-veggies. The veggie menu was just as appealing as the meaty one - as it happened, we both made choices from the vegetarian menu. If I was (still) a vegetarian, I would have been in heaven.

I can't remember much about the food though. Apologies. In my defence, it was half a year ago, and I was as excited about all my presents as I was about the food. (Maybe I should edit this bit - an improper eGullet attitude!) :biggrin:

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  • 1 year later...

ROUSSILLON - restaurant review

July 2004

Set in a residential district in Pimlico, Roussillon reflects this domesticity in its size, décor and service. The dining room, incorporating a large bow fronted window, has a homely feel, being not too large to generate excessive noise, not too small to feel intimidating. The décor is not the latest chic as is the case in many restaurants of this standing, but the greeting is friendly and welcoming. It was possible to have a serious extended conversation with the sommelier who demonstrated extensive professional knowledge and a most charming manner. By the end of the evening, one felt almost at home, ready to retire to bed.

Alexis Gauthier’s cooking, however, could hardly be described as domestic. It is the product of a professional kitchen, restaurant food of the finest quality, using the freshest of ingredients which are treated with love and care. Nor is the wine list typical of the home cellar. Indeed, the sommelier’s choice of wines by the glass to accompany the “Taste of Summer” seven course degustation menu was inspired, mixing south west French vintages – as one would expect from the restaurant’s name - with those from the New World.

The starter of summer vegetables, cooked and raw, needed more than the light ginger dressing to give it a lift. My colleague, who substituted a truffle risotto from the carte, did much better. Warm Scottish lobster salad with summer leaves, and warm girolles was more on the mark: the crustacean retained its al dente sweetness and succulence, whilst the coral dressing added balance and a delicate flavour. Grilled sea bass was equally generous in its accompaniments – more girolles, lettuce, pancetta and chicken jus – which added an earthy feel to the whole dish. The minted fillet of Welsh lamb was cooked to a perfect pink, with a meltingly delicate texture. The courgette, fennel and meat jus lifted the whole dish, being an integral part rather than mere garnish. The Shiraz “Reiver” 2001, Mitolo Estate, Barossa Valley, Australia was a perfect match for this dish. French cheeses, in perfect condition, came with three wines to match their strength and texture: Pineau des Charente with Rocamadour; Champagne Jacquesson Brut rose with Chaource; and Ratafia de la Champagne Gosset with Munster and Epoisses. Puddings included classic raspberry millefeuille and warm apricot soufflé, both executed to perfection. Overall, the whole meal was perfectly balanced in terms of tastes, textures and temperatures. One felt happily satisfied rather than bloated at the end.

Incidentals such as the amuse bouches, bread, coffee and petits fours were all of a high order, demonstrating the attention to detail given to all products of the kitchen.

Roussillon has many of the characteristics of a neighbourhood restaurant: its setting, unpretentious appeal, and regular clientele – including the local gentry who were dining on the same night as ourselves. However, it is much more than this and deserves the attention of a wider audience. On the other hand, too many admirers would detract from its essential charm and tranquillity, a key part of its character. Perhaps the residents of this part of London are right in keeping this little gem to themselves.

www.thymusgland.net

Who took the cork out of my lunch? (WC Fields)

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Thanks for that, DD - I'll see if I can veer thataways the next time I'm Ebury-inclined. Can you give us an estimate on cost?

16 Saint Barnabas Street

Pimlico

London

SW1W 8PB

Tel: 020 7730 5550

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 year later...

Roussillon, December 2005

I went mainly because I wanted to try the autumn vegetables cooked in pig’s bladder with truffle broth as included on their website menu. Sadly the pigs bladder is gone which curiously makes the dish less appealing.

And after my less than delicious recent experience with scallops at Midsummer House I hesitated at choosing them here – but a sucker never learns, I suppose.

First off – amuse arrive: raw baby carrots & radishes with a mustard dip; some chips (quite elegant & slightly soft) and a couple of prawns on sticks. It was fairly reminiscent of a 70s contact party – an reasonably pleasurable but the must was a bit too overpowering.

Pre-starter was a blisteringly hot cup of squash soup with miniature ravioli– don’t know what the filling was it I do remember being told they were scented with ginger. This really didn’t work for me – the soup was so thick it resembled baby food – I would have preferred a much, much thinner soup where it’s the essence you get, not goo. The ravioli – damned if I could taste anything. A wee bit disappointing consider the effort that obviously went into it.

Any the scallops arrived – to reasonably large specimens but not quite on the scale of MH – a bit of a relief. The sat in between some leek marmalade – almond veloute with a few toasted almond slices surround them - beautifully arranged. The scallops had been steamed then lightly seared resulting in an insipid lump of rubbery whiteness. I cursed the chef & my own stupidity. I cursed the chef again when I got to the second scallop – it was so overcooked & quite unpleasant. The leek marmalade was not a success – the almonds added nothing.

Mains was old spot pig – loin & belly, rubbed with lemon, some excellent crackled skin and wilted lettuce. I dipped my finger in the reduced sauce when it first arrived – it was very good and sticky. But as soon I cut into the lettuce it release a lot of juice which watered the sauce, ruining it. The pork skin was exceptional & the belly was beautifully cooked & moist – but the lemon completely dominated the loin rendering it fairly flavorless.

Pre dessert – small cup of mango sorbet & mango juice – very good.

Dessert – crispy grapefruit cylinder filled with g’fruit sorbet & lemon cream. Fine but forgettable.

On the plus side – the breads were exceptionally good. And the sommelier gave me two different wine by the glass to complement the food – these were stunning (wish I could remember what they were).

overall, a big miss

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I went mainly because I wanted to try the autumn vegetables cooked in pig’s bladder with truffle broth as included on their website menu. Sadly the pigs bladder is gone which curiously makes the dish less appealing.

By coincidence I was reading Elizabeth David the other night on poularde en vessie (From "An Omelette and a Glass of Wine):

"A 3-lb Bresse chicken, stuffed with its own liver, a little foie gras and slices of truffle, is tied up inside a pig's bladder and cooked extremely gently in a marmite of barely simmering water for 1 1/2 hours [...] Madame asserted that nothing was easier to cook than this dish - 'What do you mean, why can you not get a pig's bladder in England? You have pigs, do you not?'"

Apparently we still have difficulty.

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  • 2 months later...

I went to Roussillon in December of 2005. The meal we had is one of the best I've had in a while. The service was fantastic and the food sublime.

i'll try my best to remember what my girlfriend had, but I had a luscious creamy risotto with veal jus. Each forkful was sinful and the veal jus offered a lovely meaty contrast to the richness of the risotto. The rice was of course cooked perfectly, with that slight bite you expect in a great risotto.

My girlfriend I remember having scallops which she loved, but can't remember the details.

The mains were lamb for myself and pork cooked 3 ways, which involved pork as a kebab, a fillet and another type. I remember the food being amazing, my lamb was cooked to perfection and the portion sizes were pretty good in our experience.

Desserts I remember very clearly. My girlfriend had the chocolate souffle, which she remarked was one of the best she's had in a very long time, and she loves souffle. I had the praline pudding, which I remember made me "mmmmm" with each spoonful...

All in all it was a wonderful evening, by the time the petit fours arrived we were well and truly stuffed. The atmosphere was fantastic and the service was spot on. Very informative without being too overbearing...a wonderful night, which compared a bit more favourably to our recent visit to Locanda Locatelli, which was superb in its own right...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lunch today at Roussillon.

Nobody's mentioned the lunch pricing on the thread to date -- I don't know if it's a new offer but it's got to be one of London's best bargains -- £35 pp for three courses (no supplements) including half a bottle of wine, mineral water, amuse bouche, pre-dessert, coffee and P4s.

We ate:

Baby veg, chips & mustard dip mentioned up-thread with sushi on a stick. I love mustard.

Gnocchi with mushroom and dried black truffle - autumnal rather than wintery I'd have thought but comfort food in a mouthful. Truffles not tip-top.

Starter 1 - scallops & black pudding, the former OK, the latter excellent; the whole not more than the sum of its parts.

Starter 2 - Mrs Winot came off better with squid and prawn salad with blood orange and an avocado salad. Fantasticly flavoursome seafood and a real synergy with the accompaniments.

Main 1 - I did best here with grilled Angus beef, larded veg and (really) fat chips -- basically cuboid roast pots but the only time I've had them when its really worked. More mustard, at my request. Beef quite rare but good deep flavour and not too chewy.

Main 2 - grilled calf's sweetbreads (can't remember the accompaniments I'm afraid) - not much flavour and the exterior made a bit soggy with the sauce. Not a patch on St. John's lamb's sweetbreads - are these always a stronger flavour I wonder?

No pre-dessert but straight to:

CHEESE x 2. Wow. What a board, what generosity, and no supplement.

Average coffee, decent P4s.

Wine - they have a reduced list of half a dozen red, half a dozen white and a rose. No prices, you just choose what you want. Very flexible -- the sommelier (who looks about 12 - is this the foody equivalent of policemen being younger than you?) did us two different large glasses of white and two different large glasses of red to matchthe food.

Conclusion - mixed but enjoyable meal, not really 1* I'd have thought, but at £70 plus service for two, excellent value.

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