Restaurants

Bastille Day Lunch at Le Garrick in Covent Garden

1st August 2018

Le Garrick is a traditional French bistro like you would find many walking around Paris, except Le Garrick is located in the heart of London’s West End. It’s definitely a local institution, for Le Garrick has been serving authentic French dishes to Londoner for three decades. I visited this restaurant a few years ago and I still remember the delicious and decadent dinner and wines I had. I was recently invited to Le Garrick in occasion of the Bastille Day celebrations. I was not in London that weekend, so my contributor Adrienne Fung attended on my behalf. Here’s her review of lunch at Le Garrick.

French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

Last 14th July, Bastille Day, my friend and I paid a visit to Le Garrick, a quaint French brasserie tucked away in Covent Garden. Le Garrick has been in business for over 30 years, a true testament to how beloved this West End neighbourhood café has been over the years.

French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

As soon as you step inside Le Garrick, you immediately feel transported to France. The décor is charming: red and white checkered table cloths, old wooden dining sets, vintage chandeliers and lamps, and a few French flags scattered around in case you ever forget you’re in a French café. Le Garrick has a handful of tables outside for when the weather is nice, a casual café on the ground level ideal for people watching and a more cosy and intimate dining scene downstairs.

French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

Like many restaurants in the neighbourhood, Le Garrick offers a pre & post theatre menu at affordable prices: you can get two courses for just under £14 or three courses for less than £17.

On the day of our visit, the restaurant was serving a special 3-course menu for Bastille Day. For starters, my friend and I tried the Cassolette de calamars à la plancha au piment d’espelette (pan-seared calamari Basque-style with coriander, chilli and ginger) as well as the traditional escargot.

Calamari a la plancha | French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

The calamari came highly recommended by the restaurant manager and it was certainly one of the nicer dishes we tried that day. They were cooked until fork-tender in a fragrant sauce perfect for dipping a bit of bread into.

The escargots were also nice, however I wouldn’t have minded a more potent garlicky kick. Le Garrick’s escargots are a good choice for those preferring a milder version.

Escargots | French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

For the main courses, we were recommended the Moules Frites and the Coq au Vin. The mussels were cooked marinières style with white wine, parsley and cream. Overall, the dish was nice, although the broth tasted mostly of cream. It could have benefited from a touch more white wine to round out the flavour. The mussels themselves also weren’t the most juicy and plump but this could be due to the fact that it isn’t peak season for the shellfish. The potato fries that came alongside were hot and crispy on the outside while soft and tender inside, just the way they should be.

Moules Frites and Coq au Vin | French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

The Coq au Vin, on the other hand, was slightly less successful. Traditional Coq au Vin recipes call for chicken to be braised in red wine, resulting in a rich and decadent dish with the chicken turning a deep burgundy colour while absorbing a plethora of flavour in the process. This version appeared to be a Coq au Vin Blanc where the sauce is a bit lighter and the color of the chicken staying intact. This version can also be quite flavourful, but unfortunately the one we tried that day at Le Garrick fell a bit flat. The sauce was rather bland, lacking depth and seasoning. The cooking on the chicken was also a bit uneven with some pieces very tender while others were quite dry.

Coq au Vin | French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

We finished the meal with the special dessert of the day: a lovely red, white and blue parfait of berries and cream. It was the perfect ending for a Bastille Day feast: light, refreshing and just the right amount of sweet.

As part of the Bastille Day celebration, a shot of pear flavoured Eau-de-Vie, a classic French brandy that literally translates to “water of life”, was also included.

French Dining at Le Garrick restaurant in Covent Garden, London

All in all, we had a lovely time at Le Garrick. The service was wonderful and the atmosphere was idyllic.

While the dishes we tried that day were a bit hit and miss, there must be a reason why this little French café is still bustling after first opening more than 30 years ago. I’d be keen to go back and try some of the other dishes on their menu. Nevertheless, the prices at Le Garrick are an absolute steal, especially for being in Central London, and it doesn’t hurt that they have a lovely selections of French wines too.

Disclaimer: Adrienne was a guest of Le Garrick. All opinions are her own. 

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