Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anniversary Celebrations at Bistro du Vin & Zucca

Last weekend Keenan and I celebrated three years of marital bliss! It just so happens we now share the same anniversary date with Sir Paul McCartney and the new Lady McCartney who tied the knot on 9th October at Marylebone Town Hall. Congratulations to the newly-weds!


To kick-start our week of celebration, Keenan and I met at Bistro du Vin Soho for a leisurely mid-week lunch, something we have never done before since neither of us work in the same area. The latest addition to the Hotel and Bistro du Vin group, Bistro du Vin on Dean Street is a large venue decorated in taupe and neutral hues combined with light and natural oak, giving this brasserie-style dining room a warm modern atmosphere. The Salon Room surrounded with a rainbow wall of books added a splash a colour, while the long wall-length pewter bar is the perfect place to grab a pre-dinner cocktail. We went straight for the champagne to mark the occasion. The super attentive waitstaff showed us to our table which had a view of the open plan kitchen. The modern European menu is heavily focused on the classics, but true to their homegrown & local philosophy, all ingredients are top-quality, sourced from Donald Russell, Mauldon Oysters, and Foreman's Smoked Salmon to name a few. 

As a starter, I ordered the foie gras & chicken liver parfait presented in its own little pot with toasted bread and chutney, which was heavenly delicious, followed by the duck, seared to a perfect balance of tenderness on the inside and crispiness on the outside. Simple but excellent cooking and generous portions. Keenan ordered the rabbit terrine as a starter, then the steak pie with a golden flaky crust and a side of buttery mash potato. To complement our lunch, we ordered a bottle of Cote du Rhone from the Bistro's lengthy wine list to pair with both our starters and mains, and the white chocolate cheesecake to round out the meal. Two hours later, we left the restaurant full of gourmet goodness and promised each other to meet more often for lunch. Our only regret was not being able to sample the artisan cheeses from Eric Charriaux from the Le Cave du Fromage. 

To keep the celebration going, we went to Zucca for dinner on Saturday. Tucked away on Bermondsey Street, this stylish modern restaurant decorated in white with hints of orange, a small tribute to its name meaning "pumpkin" in Italian,  Zucca has earned raving review from food critics and a Bib Gourmand. The food is excellent for the price and it is no surprise that you have to book six weeks in advance for a table. In the kitchen, ex-River Chef Sam Harris creates a changing menu where anti-pasti are all under £5, the pastas in two portions are £7 or £9, and all mains are around £15. Zucca also has a long wine-list of mostly Italian wines with bottles starting at £18. Since it was our anniversary dinner, we brought a bottle of Ettore Germano Nebbiolo Langhe for a £10 corkage fee. 

We were promptly seated for our 8pm reservation and the delightful waitstaff brought a complimentary basket of bread and fresh extra virgin olive. For starters, we shared the carpaccio of sea bass, which was incredibly fresh drizzled with olive oil and specks of chili pepper, and the brushetta with smoked eel, an interesting combination but well-executed dish with balanced flavour. Zucca's changing menu generally features two pastas on the menu. We opted to share the Amatriciana, a tasty dish made of guanciale, percorino cheese, and tomato over fresh homemade pasta. Finally, for the mains, I ordered Zucca's signature dish -- the veal chops with spinach and lemon. The portion was extremely generous and the meat was soft and succulent, grilled to my liking and full of flavour. Keenan, a lover of anything with tomatoes and garlic, ordered the grilled octopus with pepper. While generally not a fan of cephalopod due to its texture, Keenan loved his main.  According to him, the octopus wasn't soft, or even tender, but rather it melted in your mouth with flavourful morsels of garlic, oregano, basil, fresh saltwater, and young tomatoes. We finished off the evening with some sweetness, a heavenly dark chocolate cake, a perfect ending to a lovely evening.

Zucca exceeds expectations -- the food is divine, the atmosphere is lively, and the prices are very reasonably especially for London. It won't be too long before I return. Thanks for lovely evening and 
cheers to another year of marriage and many more to come...

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