Cuisine et Chansons at Brasserie Joel
I was invited to partake of the Cuisine et Chansons night recently at Brasserie Joel in the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel. I remember when they were building that hotel but up until now, have never actually visited it. I was pleasantly surprised by the ambiance and decor of the place. I quite liked it, all cool and sleek with lots of plate glass windows. You could even see Big Ben across the bridge from some of the Brasserie’s tables.
Cuisine et Chansons is a monthly event that Brasserie Joel which I thorough enjoyed. A chance to enjoy hearty French food all the while being serenaded by a French singing chanteuse. In this case, that night’s entertainment was a duo called “Remembering Piaf”. Ok, it might sound a little cheesy but they were very good and the singer did evoke the Little Sparrow, small and pale, the red lipstick she wore seeming to emphasis her smallness. But what a voice, she could definitely fill the room! Of course she was singing French standards like “La Vie en rose” or “Non, Je ne regrette nien” but it all seemed to add to the atmosphere.
The meal is served family style so even though we didn’t know the people at our table, we became fast friends once the wine started flowing. The month of October focused on the cuisine of the Rhone Alpes so naturally we had Rhone wines with dinner. There were 4 Rhone wines to choose from, 2 white and 2 red. I loved that there were two Rhone whites on the menu. White Rhones are often overlooked but they are great food wines and the two we had, Cotes du Rhone Les Rabassieres 2010 (£12.25 250ml glass, £28/bottle) and a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Bertheet Rayne, 2009 (£42/bottle) were both great dinner choices. Both wines showing lots of peaches and apricots on the palate and the Chateauneuf a big hit around the table with it’s elegant balanced body and clean finish.
A board laden with Reblochon, bacon and onion tarts served with a big side of charcuterie and cornichons started us off, followed by 3 mains, Lyon sausage in lentils, Cod Quenelles and Veal Blanquette. Hearty and simple food but utterly delicious. I thought the Veal Blanquette was the clear winner that evening, intensely creamy and flavourful.
To pair with the mains, the Brasserie recommended either a Cotes du Rhone La Denteliere 2010 ( £9.75 250 ml glass £24/bottle) or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Reserve Arensque, 2009 (£44/bottle). Both wines were good choices, I again preferring the Chateauneuf-du-Pape due to is fuller richer body and taste, although the Cotes du Rhone was a good wine as well, lighter in body and taste.
We finished off with a choice of 3 desserts, again all brought to the table for us to share. A praline tart, Lyonnaise Bugnes, which were similar to beignets but heavier and served in braided twists, and a savoury, Cervelle de Canut Cheese. I was so stuffed I could barely manage a mouthful of each but they were very good.
A final night cap of some sort of strong pastis, I think, just about finished me off. All in all a great way to spend the evening, especially now with the nights getting longer and colder, an evening spent supping on hearty French food, good French wines and the strains of French melodies drifting in the air.
Brasserie Joel will be running Cuisine et Chansons nights once a month until August 2013. They’ve even printed up a little mini-passport and if you attend the evenings 4 times throughout the year, the 5 fifth meal is free. The dinners cost £34 per person not including wine. Contact Brasserie Joel for more details on the next event.
A bien tot!