In one’s distant school days one learnt the odd smattering of French and a particular phrase which became etched in one’s mind was “zut alors!”. One is now given to understand that this expression means “damn!” although at the time the French master suggested “bother!” was the appropriate translation. A query of the etherweb provided “holy mackerel” and American sites suggest “shucks” which does not sound correct at all. Harrumph! One cannot imagine the formidable character of Monsieur Marcel in his fromagerie even considering “shucks” as an expletive.
But one digresses. One realises that you are here because one is talking LUNCH! One’s reference to the French language is merely a preamble to updating one’s chums on a visit to Brasserie Zedel (Pronounced “ZL”). One’s chums have already proferred a thumbs up for their visits. Guiffart in particular was rather effusive in his praise although Sir Cosmo did mention a problem with service on a busy Friday evening. But onward dear readers to add to the views of one’s chums which are not to be sniffed at as they are themselves extremely cultured gents-about-town.
Brasserie Zedel is situated downstairs in a large 1930’s art deco basement that was once the Atlantic Bar and grill and many moons ago was part of the Regent’s Palace hotel. At the foot of the stairs one finds a “vestiare” (cloakroom) and the entrance to the Bar Americain. Passing through to the main restaurant one’s is greeted by a wealth of tables filled with animated diners filling a space which is large enough to play a decent game of rugger. The restaurant evokes a classic timelessness. Waiters pirouetting through the restaurant with meals and drinks in hand. Service is provided with calm, friendly efficiency. One could easily believe one had been transported back to 1930’s Paris. The clientèle are a mixture of more mature (and therefore wiser) diners and the odd group of businessmen out to put a good lunch on expenses.
The older crowd knows when they are on to a good thing and ZL offers a prix-fixe menu of two courses for £8.95. However, the offer of “carrotte rappe” (grated carrot salad) as the only starter on this menu did not entice your Doctor to order it. Fortescue is well aware that your doctor does not indulge in grated carrot. Steak Haché was the main course and this was not a choice for Doctor Lunch.
With no reservation and all tables full, the counter was suggested as the best place to eat. From this vantage point one could examine the whole restaurant which is large, impressive and elegant. Traditional French fare was on the menu with many dishes proving very tempting. One chose duck confit served with a haricot bean stew and one is pleased to report that it was very tasty and one almost felt healthier afterwards. No starter no dessert. Your doctor is saving his waistline for the onslaught of the festive season.
Behind the bar were myriad bottles of French aperitifs and digestifs and on questioning the bartender kindly and patiently explained the attributes of each. Your doctor was then fortunate to be given a tiny taster of the Picon and also the home made Vin d’orange which one had not tasted before. It is an aged combination of spiced rose wine, orange and vodka which can be left in bottle for up to a year. Your doctor has added a recipe for this on his tipples page. It is well worth a try but may not be to everyone’s taste.
After an excellent double expresso, one was saddened to have to leave as it was perfect spot to people watch whilst nurturing a Cote du Rhone. This is an wonderful French Brasserie and your Doctor will return. Zut Alors!
ZL may turn out to be a favourite of DL!
20 Sherwood Street,
Tel: 020 7734 4888