Café des Amis
The Café des Amis is tucked away up a very narrow side street, designated as Hanover Square, between the Long Acre and Floral Street. We had come across it on the Top Table website where they were offering half price on food which seemed too good to miss.
It has a downstairs bar and the restaurant is at ground level. We arrived fifteen minutes early and were shown directly to our table. Eeven at 5.30 it was beginning to fill up! A waitress brought menus and the wine list and asked if we would like a drink. Beware if you order shorts and mixers. We are not used to the bulk dispensers, common in London bars, so did not think to ask for the whiskey with just a splash of ginger. Josephine got a full glass. It was not a problem with my gin as I would always use the full bottle of tonic.
We ordered starters, Josephine the French onion soup, whilst I opted for the classic steak tartare, which is not something one sees too often these days. These arrived with astonishing speed. The soup was thick with onions and topped with cheese on toast and very satisfying. The steak tartare was served with crisp toasted french stick, salad and a drizzle of dressing. It is chopped with onion rather than minced which gives it a smoother texture that I have had before.
The house red was Le Bosq Rouge, which was from a variety of grape types and would suit just about any palate. Definitely a good choice.
Our main courses were sirloin steak with a pepper sauce, served with chips and vegetables for Josephine and calves liver with smoked pancetta on a bed of mash for me. The only complaint would have been that, compared to Irish mash or champ, it was a little watery.
Service in general was very good and the waiters efficient and smiling.
All in price including the now mandatory service charge £72.00.
This restaurant was recommended to us by the hotel and, having checked the location out, was a little concerned as to it’s pedigree. There is a large moroccan restaurant opposite and a very swish looking french restaurant a couple of doors down. As they all close down for the afternnon and do not re-open until 7 p.m. there was no way of getting an indication of the interiors. Hugo has a small yellow door with hand painted notices in the windows announcing 2 courses from €15. The sign over the door says cuisine créative et provençale. Nothing ventured, nothing gained we arrived at around 7.30 and found it to be a fairly small room with around a dozen wooden tables with chairs to match.
There was one waitress and the menu came to the table on a blackboard. The wine list was on another blackboard on the wall and wines were offered in a choice of 5 sizes from whole bottles to small glasses. No prizes for guessing the size of our order.
The food! What can I say; creative; definately: provençal; never having been there I cannot comment.
All starters €7. I chose the Croquant de Chèvre à La Figue & aux Amandes. Do not translate this literally. It is a thick slice of goats cheese topped with fig conserve and almonds and it is mouth watering. The rest of the party were conservative and settled for the Foie Gras Maison aux Cranberries. They may be spelt the same but the cranberries here are not like those from Tesco’s.
Main Courses – €9 for salads or vegetarian and the dearest €15.
I had the speciality of the day which was a mix of prawns, whitefish, squid and octopus, pan seared and with a simple herbed olive oil sauce. I am at a loss to remember what everybody else had, but they made appreciative noises and you can see the choices on the board!
All Desserts €6:
I could not resist the Fondant Chocolade with Salade de Fruits.
All in all another memorable meal in a great atmosphere.