Saturday, 9 July 2011

[Restaurant - French] Not Much Richoux(er) for the Experience; Cafe Richoux of Mayfair

Location - Mayfair, London [UK]

Routines are a bit of a paradox - usually instated into habit to add order to particular processes, it is at once also a source of monotonous, repetitive, boring rigidity of character. And despite having just slept off a rather nice, lightly inebriated slumber [no doubt the alcohol helping the slumber], the rigours of my usual routine failed to leave me. Or rather, I refused to abandon them. Despite not being at my own home, and slept in the waking hours of the morning after an evening out, I still awoke at 7am. And set to unpack my packaged breakfast. Which introduced a minor dilemma in and of itself, as by the time my hosts would creep out of their hibernation I'll already be ready to lunch to their breakfast. Ergo, get to eat more. Win win ^_^.

So it began, several hours after my breakfast, they, had crawled out of bed, with me ready to dig in to my pre-packaged pre-lunch snack, and them wanting to gorge the world to stifle the armada of Vodkageddon. I was just getting hungrier, as they now denied me a snack. Dessert had better be copious. So, where to eat? Obviously, I had nary a clue or care, being a London-infedel and getting increasingly hungry. The other two were busy imposing their right of opinion with delightful infernal squabbling as I've often found typical of couples, at such an ideal time. I.e. During my hunger. I may just have to eat them. Not wishing to get involved in the Menage a Myfoodisgetting-Froid, and never having a suggestion beyond the complete saturation of my stomach cavity, Cafe' Richoux was decided. If such facetious values as the ring of a name could influence a premonition of an experience, this at least "sounded" like it could quench my perpetual hunger. That and the only other suggestion was a place we had tried before, and eating at the same place twice is so unfashionable. So onwards we travelled, seemingly to a suburb in Bangladesh. It was far-ish is the inference, not that it was underwater. And after observing the fact that I would have to spend £16 just for parking, the importance of this meal was immediately heightened. Make me forget about the extortion, or the parking attendant gets eaten.

Walking into the restaurant, a cruel trick of fate was thrust upon me. The pastry and desserts counter. It stopped me dead in my tracks. How many desserts did I have last night? BAH. Don't care, I'll have them all. It's their fault for not labelling them anyway. My appetite was quite voracious at this point, so, table located, sat down, menu nao. Oh dear. My hopes and dreams and decadent and creamy French indulgence at this time of morning were quickly dashed, with the blancmange assortment of "drybreeze" meals seeming as Francophone as ordering "Le Bigmac". Cafe' Rouge for all its mainstream proliferation still manages not to dilute their image to quite this level. Nevermind. There's a desserts counter to devour to keep me elated at the diabetic limb-dropping. My victims were chosen, with foresight to the desserts for I feared the starter and mains would not suffice, and were ordered amidst giggles from my eating partners. And the waitress. Hmm. Odd. Moseying on. Obviously I was unaware of something, but, I'd just eat my way through it. And despite much overstatement of mass exodus levels of famine, they would only order salmon and eggs. Oh, and afternoon tea. Obviously anorexia is very 2011. Or rather, not being "allowed" to order as per normal in front of a particularly imposing other-half [or surely anti-matter, I rarely see them as a positive "addition" O_o], making me seem rightfully, but an isolated piggy little eater. Meh.

~ Starter ~
- Grilled Goat's Cheese on Toast with Caramelised Onions & Tomatoes

As soon as the starter arrived, I was abruptly aware of the source of the giggling. I've basically been given the cheese equivalent of an entire goat's yield of milk. Wow. Err. So, I've got mains to complete as well after this apartment block of cheese. Ah well! I was present with two [and a half!] huge discs of cheese atop a mountain of caramelised onions and tomatoes, topped with some sort of pesto. And whilst not knocking me into a pleasure coma, it certainly shut my vocal perpetually pessimistic inner monologue. The goat's cheese was not too salty, worked nicely with the pesto and was refreshed by the onions. There was just so much of it. Not that you could ever have too much goat's cheese. Clogged arteries be damned, it's a London thing, like all the roads leading into London.

However, what this ludicrously-sized started did place into stark reality. Just what monster is going to be served up next?!

~ Main Course ~
- Fish Cakes with Spinach & French Fries 

I received my answer not long after. Holy. Jeebus. The one fishcake already looked like a pancake. However these sadists decided to offer two. With a mountain - I do exaggerate, but this one had a snowy peak - of spinach, and a deluge of sinful "French" Fries. This is not to complain though, it just means that I would have a bit a week's worth of leftovers from this lunch alone to finish off back at home. Less effort for me then, and silver lining re-established! 

Spinach was boiled, fries are fries. Only so much can be embellished, and my fingers tire easily. The fish cakes however. Were disappointing. On many fronts. Primarily though, they were misleading, but I guess calling them "Primarily potatocakeswithacoupleofpiecesoffish Cakes" is not as appealing. I don't know, sounds kind of eclectic. Nevertheless, when there is evidently only a couple of pieces of salmon and I think haddock amongst the remaining frisbee of potato, I think their pants or on fire. Or it's a glaring sign of cost cutting. And overcooking it just meant it had no texture. London fog has more texture. It was also under-seasoned, though the occasional caper did liven it up somewhat. Thankfully it was copious, and the remaining one would easily supplement lunch. For a year. As would the fries on my general potato embargo. And despite the volume, the dessert cravings had already begun..

And rightfully so, as the afternoon tea for two [I was excluded </3] included chosen pastries. How very dare they. Barbarians.

~ Dessert ~
- Almond "Stick"
- Nibbles from the Afternoon Tea

No. The dessert was not chosen for its alluring name. I was not aware of its name. Neither was the person at the counter. Helpful. But it was also the least recognisable, largest, but looked the lightest hearted/least likely to lead to further food/face interfacing by dint of being as large my arm. Almond "Fallen Tree" would have been a more adept description. At least there is SOME cohesive theme in this place. I was almost distraught at the selection displayed though, my heart said to order them all and to hell with its demise. I'm not sure what was saying no, but I don't much care for its voice.

So it was brought over. In all its coniferous majesty. And it was quite possibly the most annoying thing to eat - too friable to cut with a knife, too gargantuan to just eat. Well, with a modicum of decorum at least. I then stopped being a girl and carried forth. Not a very home-made almond infusion, but light and not sickly enough to be pleasant, and a very light pastry. The powdered sugar as well did not weigh down the whole pastry, and when some clotted cream from the tea tray was added it just supplemented it further. It was quite moreish. Made the more obvious that I ate the entire California Redwood's worth. I did not stop there either - Mr. & Mrs. Kate Moss were heaving and puffing over the abomination of the quantity of air they had ingested, so I lunged forth on a couple of the scones. They were not scones.

At all. They were buns. A wretched lie. Still, baked goods, yum. Just, really not what they were supposed to be. The fruit cake served with their tea was quite reasonable though, not that I can much remember it. 

~ Drinks ~
- Espresso

Further supplementing the fact that Cafe' Richoux is indeed Le McDonald's in Disguise not a terribly authentic French experience, not that it was not glaringly obvious by the offerings of Pasta, Burgers and so on, was the fact that the espresso was terrible. French Roasts are black as my heart, this was essentially coffee flavoured water. Served in a rather large mug, despite being a "single". Do I get a pitcher for a double?


Much contradictory to my obvious heart'ing of this place, not a terrible experience. Well, it was not even supposed to be an experience - only so much expectation can be created when resting your laurels on the "ring" of a name. It was just a quiet lunch. And I felt like a taxidermy experiment at the end of it. Criticism certainly cannot be laid on portion sizes, as they generally slapped me upside the head, much to my delight. However, I did leave feeling a tinge of being cheated; obviously a lot of effort had gone into creating a certain atmosphere, which was not supported by the confused menu and lack of substance to the food. The reasonable price of the ordeal possibly substantiated this, considering the area.

Nothing was authentic, and as such, I'm not richer for this experience. Well, actually, having not paid, maybe I am ^_^.

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