Friday, October 22, 2010

le mercury

le mercury is one of the few places that restores my faith in the belief that one can still find decent grub in London without having to also resort to bank robbery.

The menu isn’t complicated – mostly bistro classics. No faffy modern twists. Just incredibly straightforward and tasty. And all completely affordable. We were a gaggle of girls, and decided against having a three course meal each, so opted for the girl friendly route of a couple of starters and deserts to share. And for our ‘almost’ 3 course meal, a bottle of wine, coffees, service and a bellini came up to less than £25 a person.

I adored the crayfish and lobster ravioli with spinach and shellfish sauce. And i was wishing we didn’t have to share, because i could have definitely eaten the whole thing myself. The ravioli, blowsy and fat with crayfish and lobster meat, the sauce, velvety and luscious and extremely moreish. The moules mariniere we shared were confidently executed, as was the foie gras and duck ballotine with poached dates and thin crisp toast.

I had the ribeye steak with frite as my main, which was a little disappointing – but this was the fault of the meat itself rather than the way it was cooked. The shallot sauce that it came with was a joy, but they had cooked it to my medium rare order, it was just the quality of the meat itself which let it down. The other mains which were ordered were however, a joy to eat, and the table descended into temporary silence as food was shovelled into hungry mouths. We ate between us, roast breast of duck on garlic mash, roast lamb with rosemary, sea bass fillet with minted pesto, and slow roasted honeyed pork belly with celeriac.

I had, i’m ashamed to admit, already eaten 4 puddings by the time i arrived at dinner, so i was happy to go without. Everyone else looked at me like i was mad – no pudding? I did suffer pudding envy as the plates of cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and poached pears arrived, but had to content myself with a double espresso instead. I didn’t try any, but from the repeated silence that descended as puddings were devoured, followed by the happy groans of gratification, i surmised they were pretty good. And the fact that no one was very enthusiastic about offering me any meant that they were possibly too good to be shared.

Le Mercury
140a Upper Street
N1 1QY


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