GARNIER Earl’s Court
314 Earl’s Court Rd, London, SW5 9BQ
020 7370 4536
For those of us who have been knocking around the London restaurant scene for the last few decades, seeing Eric Garnier controlling the front of house has always been a reassuring sign. Whether expertly directing platoons of staff at mega-brasseries Quaglinos and Bank in the 90’s, or working on a more human scale at Koffman’s and Racine more recently, you always felt that you were watching a master of his art. Racine was all about returning to the roots of French bourgeois cooking (racine means root) and it is this style, which is now almost an endangered species rather than the mainstream, that Garnier offers in his eponymous Earl’s Court restaurant. Heading up the kitchen is Andreas Engberg who ran the kitchen at Racine for many years and fans of the Knightsbridge stalwart, where some critics have noted a decline in standards since Engberg’s and Garnier’s departure, will love Garnier.
The restaurant’s location in Earl’s Court makes it the obvious choice for anyone going to the Exhibition Centre as well as being easily accessible to anyone in West London. With other new openings in the neighbourhood it is quite possible that Earl’s Court may be transforming itself into more of a culinary destination. The interior is classic and understated with more space and light than there was at Racine and the menu and the wine list offer a sophisticated take on cuisine bourgeoise.
The Assiette de Crudites (£9.90) combined the mustardy crunch of Celeriac Remoulade with the softness of beetroot, dill infused cucumber, Artichokes à la Barigoule (braised in white wine) and delicious leeks in a beautifully composed dish.
Gnocchi, Courgettes, Mint and Pecorino Cheese (£8.50) was warm and comforting without being in any way heavy.
Roast Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Pickled Girolles and Spinach (£ 12. 00)-two plump scallops were cooked perfectly, seared on the outside but moist and opaque on the inside, accompanied by the pickled girolles and the chlorophyll softness of the spinach.
Poached Organic Salmon, Hollandaise Sauce with Grapefruit (£19.90) came on a bed of samphire. The salmon was a really good piece of fish served lightly poached and still pink inside. It sat on the plate almost throbbing with pleasure as it soaked up the citric unctuousness of the Sauce Maltaise, caressed by the samphire fronds.
For dessert I had the Crepes Suzette (£7.90-not pictured) which slipped down my throat almost too pleasingly. I think Suzette would have enjoyed it. If I had a criticism of the dish it would be that it really should be prepared at the table for the full theatre of the experience.
Unlike most recent openings Garnier opened with no website or social media hullaballoo and entered the deep waters of the London restaurant scene with barely a splash like a sleek liner gliding down the slipway, ready for service. A five star review from A.A.Gill in The Sunday Times guaranteed the evening clientele and somehow it already feels that this timeless classic restaurant has been around for ever.