Jardin de Provence
40-42 South End
Phone:- 0208 255 0045
Eva and I decided to try out Jardin de Provence, which has been taken over by the owner of what was Le Bien Manger, on Friday.
Jardin de Provence serves their interpretation of French style cuisine.
Jardin offers seating for around 250 people, in a modern and stylish setting. There is a bar running down and a main dining area, part of which is elevated; then there is also a private dining area.
We sat in the elevated section, which afforded us a view of the bar and the kitchen; which could be seen through a large glass window.
The tables were laid with linen cloths and a selection of glassware, for wine and water. The atmosphere was busy and lively, as there was a private dinner in the adjacent function room.
There were café prints and glass mirrors on the walls. The off white ceiling was subtly contrasted by the orange pillars.
Our welcome was warm, and the atmosphere comfortable.
The menu contained a reasonable selection of French style food including; onion soup, oysters, scallops, snails, duck breast and sole. Rather perversely Jardin serves pasta as well, which of course has nothing to do with French cuisine.
There were some specials on a blackboard, as well as the a la carte selection.
I would say, that for a restaurant to describe itself as French, it needs to offer a little more traditional French food than Jardin has on its menu; eg lamb cassoulet, beef bourguignon and chicken chasseur.
Additionally, I would suggest that plain grilled steaks and cutlets are also offered; aside from those on the menu which are covered in sauces.
The staff were very friendly, efficient and prompt.
One member of staff bore a striking resemblance to Oliver Letwin (Tory party Shadow Chancellor), given the Tories ratings in the polls it is entirely possible that he was working there.
I started with the leek soup. This was good, hot and creamy with a good taste of leeks.
I chose one of the specials for my main course, braised lamb shank. This came in a rich red wine sauce. Now whilst there was nothing wrong per se with it; it is fair to say it was not the best lamb shank that I have ever had. To my view it had been cooked at too high a temperature, rather than the low long braising that is required. The result was that it was a little dry, and the meat did not slip gently off the bone as it should do.
Eva started with the scallops, these were sautéed with mushrooms, herbs and cream; they were presented on a bed of mashed potatoes. These were excellent, and she was very pleased with this dish.
Eva chose the chicken breast stuffed with spinach, in a tomato sauce. Whilst it tasted alright, it was not exceptional; Eva felt, and I concur, that the chicken was bland and dry.
The meal came with sauté potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
The meal, which included a bottle of Pouilly Fume and several liqueurs, came to £76 including service.
In our opinion, whilst the atmosphere is good, the food needs a little more attention and imagination.