Game On At Charlotte's Bistro

Restaurant looks to seasonal fare for special Game Night this month

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Wes Smalley

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Charlotte's Bistro Keeps Its Bib

Charlotte’s Bistro

Eating out in Chiswick


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For anyone suffering the post-Christmas blues, local restaurant Charlotte's Bistro has a treat in store. Their special Game Night later this month will celebrate seasonality, quality, local produce and modern British cooking. Chef Wesley Smalley has put together a varied seven-course feast for January 23rd at a special price of £58 .

I got the chance to try out the menu recently in the company of food writers and if you like game, it's pretty sensational.

Here is how the menu went;
We started with Game Consomme with lemongrass and chilli and Smoked Oil- this was paired with sherry, an Amontillado which was rich and full with an earthy, burnt caramel flavour which matched the slight kick of the lemongrass and chilli.

From then it was on to Venison Tartare with Anchovy Sabayon, and Bitter Chocolate. This was teamed with a Semillon L'Ecole No 41,(2009) which is on the restaurant wine list priced at £42.The wine comes from an award-winning artisan winery in the Walla Walla valley in Washington and even though it was pairing a white wine with red meat, I thought it worked really well.

Pheasant Sausage with Red Cabbage and Liquorice Puree, with Crones and Puy Lentils was next. Crones are crunchy little Japanese artichokes, which look like little fusilli pasta, and the wine was Pouilly Fuisse Champs Roux ( 2009) from Burgundy, a dry white wine made from chardonnay ( not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc-based wines of Pouilly Fume).Some of my dining companions were anxious to move onto red wine with the meat but again, I liked the idea of bucking the convention and I agreed with the restaurant's choice.

From then it was onto Confit Wild Rabbit Tortelloni, with Espelette Pepper"Cafe Au Lait'. Espelette is a mild chilli which is ideal to cut through the richness of the rabbit. This was highly complimented by the other diners, although for dietary reasons I could not have the pasta, so Wesley provided me with some partridge which I enjoyed hugely.The wine was a Nebbiolo Langhe (2009) from Piedmont in Italy.This Italian wine is made with the nebbiolo grape at Langhe, which is east of Alba, and is usually drunk younger than a Barolo, to which is it often compared. The appearance of some red wine was welcomed by the group and it was excellent.

Then there was Slow Cooked Lightly Smoked Venison Loin with Potato and Truffle Fondant,Ceps and Juniper which was paired with a Cannonau, Nerpente do Oliena Riserva, from Sardinia - it is on the wine list for £58 a bottle, and has a powerful taste of dried plum with a lingering finish.The venison was the highlight of the night for some, the smoky flavour of the meat paired with the rich softness of the potato fondant, and the bite of juniper,always a good combination with game.

Mandarin Sorbet with Gin, Bergamot and Toasted Oats was a refreshing palate cleanser paired with a Muscat from Tschida ( Austria), while the finale of Valrhona Chocolate with Dulce de Leche and Bitter Endive ( which was really a marvellous dessert) came with a glass of 10-year old Tawny Port, Warre'sOtima.

Chef Wesley will be on hand to explain all the courses and this menu is the result of a great deal of thought and effort in the kitchen. While the ticket price of £58 only covers food,an extra £38 will include wines with each course, and if you can stretch to that, it is well worth it. The evening starts at 7pm. with drinks and then the sit-down service.

This is a menu for a special night out and while the portions are small, in keeping with most tasting menus, there is a rich variety with lots of flavours and earthy tastes that linger on the palate. Vegetarians will be catered for but the restaurant will need advance notice to prepare an alternative menu. Service charge of 12.5% is not included.

Wesley Smalley has worked with Jean Christophe Novelli and his cooking at Charlotte's Bistro is influenced by his travels and his passion for Thai cookery, merging the four flavours of sweet, sour, salt and bitter. The Game Night offers a chance to partner the hearty flavours of British produce with eastern influences such as lemongrass and chilli, and he has also been creative in using unusual combinations such as bitter chocolate and liquorice.

The restaurant has retained its Michelin Bib Gourmand award for this year, which is given for what Michelin inspectors consider good food at moderate prices.

Anne Flaherty


January 6, 2012