Saturday, July 04, 2009

Racine , London

Henry Harris is back as Chef Patron at Racine after a shortish stint as Executive Chef of the Soho House Group. I have eaten Henry's fine Bourgeois cooking for more years than I care to count going back to Hilare, Bibendum and 5h Floor at Harvey Nicholls.

It turns out that Henry also knows and worked with one of my best friends from University at The Old Ship in Brighton many moons ago. Strangely all this became apparent when Henry and I engaged on Twitter in a discussion on La Meranda in Nice that also involved restaurateur Charlie McVeigh and food critic/writer Daniel Young.

Racine reminds me of several Paris restaurants that falls into the category of Bistros/Brasseries * with a delightful room that has a wood floor, brown leather banquettes with mirrors above them and pale yellow walls.

Racine though is really about the food and as you can imagine when the Chef Patron has spent his formative years working with Simon Hopkinson you are most likely to be guaranteed well executed classic Bourgeois cooking.

John, Henry’s old colleague from Brighton and I had an exemplary lunch on Friday, July 3rd 2009. The food and service was really top notch and as it turns out it was Henry’s last service before a well-earned holiday.

We were greeted by Henry who gave us some of his own home made delightful cured middle white proscuito .

I strated with Smoked duck, French bean and girolle salad which was really very good indeed. The beans were perfectly cooked “al dente” and the duck was succulent with the delightful small girolles complimenting the ensemble of ingredients.

John was delighted with his Lincolnshire smoked eel, salmon roe, watercress and horseradish salad.

To follow I had Filet au poivre made with a lovely piece of well hung Filet served with hand cut chips and simple mixed leaf salad. The sauce presumably made with a veal stock reduction was really delicious and worked well with the tenderest but not necessarily the most flavorful cut of beef.

John said his Breast of guinea fowl, peas, broad beans and tarragon was really outstanding.

We drank a half bottle of Gewurztraminer, Cote de Rouffach, Rene Mure followed by a chilled Brouilly, Chateau de la Perriere as well as “several” Marc’s de Bourgogne with our espressos; we were really too full to be tempted by the classic deserts or the fine cheeses from La Fromagerie.

Racine is a delightful restaurant with excellent service providing very good and well executed Bourgeois cooking based on well selected ingredients from top suppliers. To paraphrase the by line of Benoît in Paris "Chez toi Racine, on boit, festoie, en rois”

Update Summer of 2009

Henry started to source amazing Cote de Boeuf from O'Shea's of Knightsbridge these Irish Black Angus Grass Fed , Barley Finished 44 day + aged Ribeyes on the Bone are in my humble opinion simply the best steak you can have in the UK !

* see the excellent Bistros , Brasseries and Wine Bars of Paris : Everyday Recipes from the Real Paris by Daniel Young , Harper Collins NY, NY 2006.

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