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Great food in a cozy Covent Garden locale
Palm Court Brasserie (London)
Member Name: edinburgher
Palm Court Brasserie (London)
Advantages: Wonderful food, good selection, price not too high
Disadvantages: Waiters can be a little pushy
I've had the pleasure of visiting this restaurant twice in the last six months and am happy to recommend it to anybody for a particularly tasty and filling evening meal in London, without having to stretch your wallet towards the upper echelons of the 'fine dining' bracket.
Like the previous review for this restaurant (which I greatly enjoyed reading), I will include the address. No, this isn't to fill words, but because the restaurant can be tricky to find for those not familiar with the densely-packed area that is Covent Garden.
Palm Court Brasserie London.
39 King Street
I recommend printing off directions to the restaurant in advance (ideally using a free service such as Google Maps, which was fit for purpose when I was getting there).
Please book a table well in advance - the ambience, quality of food and central location mean that it often gets very busy, even at times that you might not typically expect. While staff will do their best to accommodate 'stragglers', I have seen people turned away before. They can be reached by telephone (address on their website, www.palmcourtbrasserie.co.uk) and you can
also reserve by e-mail. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but their e-mail booking service is brilliant, with replies inside of an hour in some cases. Some restaurants are loath to use e-mail for this purpose and the Palm Court Brasserie is a nice exception.
From the outside, the restaurant doesn't look particularly impressive. It has a sort of homely appeal in brass and wood that looks welcoming, but not particularly memorable. Moving into the restaurant, the ambience is relaxed (if busy) and dark wood, prints and soft lighting are the order of the day. There is a reasonable large bar area and well-maintained toilet facilities
On both occasions I have been in, service has been quick and staff give you adequate time to peruse the menu in private. Their menus (A La Carte and weekend) are available online, as is the wine list. Being something of a gourmand (or person who loves to eat, if you'd rather), I have usually made my
mind up well in advance of the meal! Door and bar staff are welcoming and polite and will happily point you in the direction of the bathroom/make you up your favourite drink.
The food is an instantly recognisable blend of comforting bistro staples - steaks, mussels, confit duck and the like and a few more impressive dishes (a gigantic chateaubriand to share and pheasant spring to mind). Starters are in a similar vein and oysters, fish soups and cured meat are present in abundance. I haven't really availed myself of their dessert choices, but I did
have an enjoyable creme brule there. Food is rich and filling, with
well-flavoured sauces and everything we've had has been cooked correctly.
Some lighter and vegetarian options are available, but this isn't somewhere that I'd recommend for those on a diet, or vegetarians/vegans. I'm not saying that the Brasserie doesn't cater to them at all, just that they may not feel comfortable surrounded by such prevalent use of fish, fowl and meat.
There is a pre-theatre menu, a slightly more minimal 'weekend' menu and you can be sure of a few interesting specials/plat du jour.
When dining from the A La Carte menu, you should be expecting to pay:
Mains £12-16 (more for steaks etc.)
On our two trips there (both with groups of four diners) we have spent ~£160 and ~£110, making use of the set menu on the second trip. Both times we had two courses, bread, wine and dessert wines/coffee, so the price seems ok for the market.
Most of the starters and the main courses come complete with some vegetables (typically a garnish, or broad beans, mashed potatoes and that sort of thing). Sides are only normally required by the hungrier diner, but they can be very good to share - I've enjoyed the green beans and the buttered spinach (which is great with steak).
For those of you with any room left, they do a good coffee and have a small, but perfectly-formed selection of dessert wines. I'd forgive even a mediocre restaurant if they let me finish the meal with a good sauternes - Palm Court Brasserie does you the favour of finishing a meal in a great restaurant with an excellent one.
A note on ordering/waiters:
We have really enjoyed our two trips to this restaurant, but the one thing that did take the shine off of things was the waiting staff. I realise that part of their job is to sell sides, extras and generally push up the average spend, but the service we've had has been a bit over the top in its pursuit of a higher bill!
Examples would include waiters refusing to provide tap water (some of us request this out of ecological concerns as opposed to being thrifty) and some very poor wine advice - take a look at the wine list beforehand if you're not the sort of person who knows what they enjoy. On the first occasion one of my in-laws asked for a white wine suggestion to accompany a fairly standard selection of lighter dishes and the waiter insisted that a very dry Sancerre (£35) was a good choice, completely ignoring the range of more reasonably priced wines that would have been far more appropriate for general consumption. I don't mind dear wine if it will compliment your choices, but waiters should try and cater to the needs of their customers as opposed to just naming what's costly.
Despite my misgivings, ordering is a small part of a meal and you shouldn't let these comments put you off dining at what is a warm, intimate and high-quality restaurant. We will definitely be returning in the new year.
Summary: Visit for a delicious and filling meal, but watch out for expensive addons