Sunday, 18 September 2011

Prix Fixe

Good Food - Shame About the Service

I've fancied trying
Prix Fixe for a while - my friend Lianne recommended it for the food and the excellent value and I've read several good reviews too. So yesterday afternoon after visiting the Museum of London with my family we were in Soho around 5ish, and in something close to a miracle we managed to sway my mum away from our regular haunts in Chinatown, and got ourselves a table in Prix Fixe.

As it was early - far too late for lunch, and a little too early for dinner, there was only a couple of occupied tables in the restaurant. This did not prevent the restaurant manager from looking around at all the empty tables, 'finding' us one and informing us we'd have to be done by 7pm in a very sharp manner. This put my back up immediately as it was unlikely we'd be more than two hours anyway, and I found it be unneccesary rudeness.

One thing that must be applauded in Prix Fixe is the fantastic value for money available on their set menu. For £11.90 you get two courses and can choose from 7 starters and 12 mains. There is a good selection however for somewhere pitted (on their website) as a 'Classic French Bistro' the menu is a little bit confused - with items such as Falafel and Hummus, Halloumi, Canneloni and Sausage and Mash on there - definitely not dishes I would cite as French - however I was willing to keep an open mind.

To start we all fancied the same dishes - so we had two Crab Croquette's which came with avocado mousse, pickled cucuber, cream cheese and a red chilli salsa. I thought this was a great plate of food - prettily presented and with all the accompaniments working well together. The croquettes themselves had a good helping of Crab in there and were seasoned well. I love avocado and pureed as it was it tasted great with a bite of the crab. The cream cheese was wrapped in a slither of the cucumber and had chopped dill - another great partner to the crab and the salsa was actually chopped pineapple with chilli - which gave the dish an added element - sweetness. I asked my brother and my Mum who had this dish to mark it out of five purely on taste - and they gave it a 5 and a 3 respectively.

My Dad and I both had their special of the day which was a Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Terrine with homemade chutney and wrapped in parma ham. This came served with two little toasted slices of ciabatta bread. This was a fantastic start to the meal - the leeks gave the chicken a gorgeous strong flavour and the chicken was incredibly moist and well seasoned. The chutney was tangy and went perfectly on a piece of the bread with the terrine. We gave 4 each for flavour.

For the main course my Dad and I again chose the same - the infamous Steak & Frites. I'd read excellent reviews of this and with a £7 supplement on the set menu I thought it would be rude not to try at such a low price in the West End. The steak 'entrecote' itself was cooked well, had a round of garlic butter on top, which melted slowly and gave a lovely flavour. The Frites were perfect, thin French Fries and a small side salad was dressed in a fresh citrussy oil. A great dish and enjoyed by both. But what actually elevated this dish for me was the accompanying sauce - a peppercorn and blue cheese affair which was fabulous slathered over the steak and also to dip the chips into. A four each for flavour again.

Daniel had the Roast Barbery Duck breast with dauphinoise potatoes, marinated red cabbage and a cherry and red wine jus - this had a £6 supplement on top of the set menu too. This was by far the dish of the day for us. The duck was pink and juicy and full of flavour, the dauphinoise were cooked beautifully and the accompanying red cabbage was a lovely pickled addition to the plate. The sauce was like the final link in a chain of beautiful food to make this dish near on perfect. Again a five was scored.

The worst dish of the day was my Mum's - the Roasted Cumberland Sausages and mash. The sausages were good actually - herby and flavourful, but the mashed potato was a complete disappointment. Aside from the fact it was lumpy and not as warm as you'd like - it was watery, flavourless and was left on the plate pretty much untouched.

There was hardly any of the caramelized red onion and sage gravy so my Dad tried to get the attention of the Restaurant Manager again, as he had been serving us throughout the meal, to request more. The far from charming man waved us away and shouted to one of his waiting staff to come and 'deal with table 5'. I thought it was disgusting behaviour - after all the old adage goes 'manners cost nothing' and it's true. Hillariously once the ordered, but polite waiter had taken our request - he returned with a sauce pot full of gravy - the equivalent of a large tablespoon!

I'm working in Soho at the moment and a couple of Friday's ago I had Sausage & Mash in the modestly priced The Garrick Arms and I can honestly say this pub grub was a whole lot better than the slop my Mum was served.

Despite the rudeness of the manager, as always, I found room for dessert after my steak and opted for the cheese selection. This is three small pieces of cheese with biscuits, a plum chutney and red and white grapes - for £5.95. I had a piece of Comte, a Sauvageon and the divine Fourme d'Ambert. The Comte was actually not the best I've tried - but I have to admit I've been spoilt for cheese recently with a visit to Bistro du Vin's Cave a Fromage so I didn't judge too badly. The Sauvageon was mild, creamy and lovely and popular around the table and the Fourme d'Ambert was exceptionally good - a blue cheese triumph.

My Dad was the only other person to order dessert and he went for the Madagascan Vanilla and lime Cheesecake which came with raspberry coulis. This looked very pretty, and I'm told it was an excellent dessert too - with a strong vanilla flavour and a buttery biscuit base - exactly what you want from a cheesecake.

With only a minor complaint towards the food (mash-gate) I left with the opinion that the quality of food against the value for money was really very good. We paid £113 including service charge for four of us and this included a bottle of Chardonnay, a large glass of Merlot and a couple of Peronis too. The waiters were pleasant enough towards the end of our meal - but unfortunately the head waiter left more than a bad taste in our mouths and I doubt any of us would return again soon, despite all enjoying most of our food. Such a shame.

I can only assume that a restaurant in the constantly lively West End, which is constantly busy due to decent and well priced food, has given the manager of Prix Fixe an air of over-complacency. He clearly doesn't feel the need to employ even basic manners. We left at 6:40 and while it was busier than when we'd arrived - the majority of the tables were still empty. If you can bear the rudeness then do try but for heavens sake - don't choose the Sausage and Mash.

Prix Fixe Brasserie on Urbanspoon Square Meal

No comments:

Post a Comment