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and for dinner from Monday to Thursday from 7 pm to 10 pm and from 7 pm to 10.30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. To make a reservation call 020 7796 0600. The restaurant is located at 57 West Smithfield, right next to the entrance to St. Bartholomew the Great church.


Bar area at Cellar Gascon

....and the Cellar Gascon too – a wine bar with a truly Gallic touch

ight next door to the Club Gascon, and sharing the same kitchen, is the Cellar Gascon – a

more casual eating place which is in

three course express lunch which at £14 for soup/starter, main dish of the day, dessert or cheese and a glass of house wine. The ambience is definitely a cut above the average wine bar, undoubtedly helped by a truly Gallic atmosphere. However if going along for the dish of the day it may be worth calling ahead to find out what it is. Steak tartare was the dish for the day we went which is fine by me, but I recognise that not everyone is enamoured with a raw minced beef patty with a raw egg on top! But even if you do go and don’t fancy the dish of the day there are numerous small plates to whet your appetite. The shared plate of ‘piggy treats’ shared by a group at the next table looked particularly appetising. In the evenings the wine bar now

offers free appetisers to go along with your drink.

While we were there we were lucky

enough to meet Pascal Aussignac, the co- owner and deviser of the dishes on offer at Cellar Gascon and at the Club Gascon next door. He doesn’t look old enough to have started the restaurants back in 1998, and gained a Michelin star only four years later, but he is obviously passionate about the dishes and menus he devises, and about south western French regional cooking upon which his offerings are based. If you like wine bars the Cellar Gascon

reality a wine bar, which also serves a limited menu of high quality


including a soup and dish of the day and/or a selection of small plate meals served tapas style. On the day we went there at lunchtime we had the excellent value

Part of the spacious restaurant area

is a significant cut above the average in terms of atmosphere – and a place where one can have a light bite (or a more substantial one if the dish of the day is chosen) and drink some excellent wines too.

Cellar Gascon is open from 12 noon to midnight from Monday to Friday.

The Grill on the Market a relaunch in West Smithfield. Simplicity with a bit more personal ch th

e sizeable wine list h T everyone.

he Grill on the Market (formerly Smithfield Bar and Grill – and before that The Living Room)

has been refurbished again, but is still managed by the same company and the layout is pretty well unchanged with entry through a large bar area (the restaurant menu is available in the bar too, but there is no specific bar menu), and then up into a fairly spacious, but windowless, restaurant area. Visiting at a lunch time, my starter of

seared foie gras (£10) comes pleasantly presented on a circle of gingerbread accompanied by drizzles of fig jam. It is tasty and not overly sweet. Barbican Life Editor and my fellow diner, Lawrence, chooses seared scallops with ham crisps and cauliflower puree (£11.50), which he finds a little on the bland side – yet still eats them all up, so they can’t be too bad. Regarding mains, I like the main menu format: choose a cut of steak (£12 - £55), a burger (£13 - £18.50) or one of the five fish (£15.50 - £20), then a sauce or rub (priced extra for meat £1 - £2.50). If you’re having fish, select the cooking method. Choose your veggies and/or style of potatoes (£3.50/4.00). It’s simplicity with a bit more personal choice. There is also a “Best of the Rest” menu section with a lamb, chicken or vegetable tart dish. I order blackened bream fillets (rubbed

with Cajun seasoning) accompanied by a small jug of creamy, curry coronation sauce and a fresh mixed leaf salad. I enjoy my dish, the bream is substantial, spicy and nicely cooked. Lawrence chooses the lunchtime

special - blue cheese and mushroom stuffed beef roulade with tomato salad and roast red pepper (£17). The beef is a little bit more overcooked than ordered so a slightly rarer replacement arrives – which he then thoroughly enjoys. The sizable wine list is sufficiently

varied in price and quality. There’s something for everyone - Il Banchetto Rosso £15, Rioja Reserva £28, Brunello £69, Chateau Latour 2001 £700 and lots of in-between choices. Wines by the glass start at £4. We choose Mamaku sauvignon blanc (£7 or £9.25 per glass) and Chilean cabernet (£4.25 or £5.50 per glass)

22 as someth

oice & ing for

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