Le Cassoulet, Croydon CR2 6PA - restaurant review - CLOSED
PUBLISHED: 08:34 11 September 2012 | UPDATED: 13:20 02 October 2014
Since opening in South Croydon early last year, Malcolm John's Le Cassoulet has been picking up awards left, right, and centre, culminating in a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide. JOHN HUGHES went along to see what all the fuss is about
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2009
Reviewed: Le Cassoulet, 18 Selsdon Road, South Croydon CR2 6PA Tel: 020 8633 1818
Having worked in the Croydon area for some years, I've eaten out in the town many times, especially South Croydon with its abundance of mid-price, mid-quality restaurants catering for just about every style of cuisine imaginable.
Then, in February 2008, enter Malcolm John's Le Cassoulet, a cut above the rest. A stylish, predominantly French country bistro that has already earned Croydon its one and only Michelin award - not a star, but a Bib Gourmand (the next best thing).
The dining room is stylish indeed with warm lighting, subtle décor and lovely curved booths that add a hint of privacy to your evening. The a la carte menu is simple but comprehensive, with some refreshing surprises alongside classic French dishes such as escargot, chateaubriand and cote de boeuf.
A pleasant surprise
My starter, for example - Jerusalem artichoke soup with winter truffles and poached egg - was delightful, the egg giving body, texture and something of a surprise to the dish, submerged as it was beneath the surface!
As for my regular guests, Helen enjoyed a Cornish crab cocktail with Avruga caviar and toast, and Mary Ann, in her ongoing quest for the perfect scallop dish, chose warm salad of diver-caught scallops, black pudding and Alsace bacon. However, the bacon, alas, proved too much in both quantity and saltiness for the subtlety of the scallops, and the balance of flavours wasn't quite right.
Cassoulet means 'stew' or 'casserole', and so for me, cassoulet of duck and pork was the obvious choice for a main. Delicious again with generous chunks of both meats and delightfully presented in a single-portion pot; deceptively filling, so that a side of fries wasn't entirely necessary.
Mary Ann's cote de boeuf was wildly generous and covered almost the entire plate, served with a sauce béarnaise and perfectly tender haricot verts. And for Helen, confit of Old Spot pork belly, parsnip puree and puy lentils - rich, satisfying and served with excellent dauphinoise potatoes.
Less was more for desserts, with a simple crme brlée for me, a choice of sorbets for Mary Ann (passion fruit, raspberry and mango) while Helen turned limp with pleasure over a Valrohna chocolate fondant and Amaretto ice cream; it looked great but there was no sharing to be done, which I guess speaks for itself!
Wines are available by the bottle and often by the glass or carafe; plenty to choose from on the list, and on this occasion I settled for a very pleasing Anjou blanc sec, Domaine Ogereau, 2004 from the Loire.
My impression of Le Cassoulet was good all around - good food, good wine, good service - marred only slightly by the final bill, which was a little more than expected. Other than that, Le Cassoulet has much to offer and there's no doubt that it brings welcome class and sophistication to dining out in dear old Croydon.
What we ate
Jerusalem artichoke soup £6.50
Cornish crab cocktail £8.50
Warm salad of diver-caught scallops £8.25
Cassoulet, duck and pork £15.95
Confit of Old Spot pork belly £14.50
Cote de boeuf £18
Crme brlée £6.25
Valrohna chocolate fondant £6.50
Choix de sorbet £4.95
Anjou blanc sec 2004 £21
Food and drink 8
3 other Surrey restaurants that opened in 2008...
The Bengal Clipper, Temple Market, 7 Queens Road, Weybridge KT13 9DL Tel: 01932 844 488
The perfect place for a spot of fine dine Indian cuisine, The Bengal Clipper added a little extra spice to Weybridge's culinary scene.
Jamie's Italian, 19-23 High Street, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1LL
Tel: 0208 912 0110
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brought
a taste of Italy to Kingston and the queues are still building up round
Indian Zest, 21 Thames Street, Sunbury-on-Thames TW16 5QF
Tel: 01932 765000
Acclaimed Indian chef Manoj Vasaikar shares his well travelled taste and made it into the Michelin Guide in
his first year.