Being asked to do reviews is something that I take very seriously. It’s so inspiring to meet entrepreneurs who are taking a chance on a passion and trying to create something special. It feels good to be a part of that excitement. A perfect example is a family restaurant that opened this year in Canary Wharf.
Le Secret des Rôtisseurs opened this past summer but you’ll read Since 1248 proudly displayed above the door. This is because this French restaurant specializes in a style of roasting meat rôtisserie that has been around since the time of King Louis IX.
The first thing you notice when you enter is the six custom made hinge and chain rotissoires. Each spindle slowly turning golden brown roasted chickens over open flame until they are perfectly cooked. We were promptly shown to our table with perfect views all around. Roasting chicken on one side and the beautiful London Skyline over the Thames to the other. It smelled wonderful and you could hear the sizzling. All senses were instantly engaged.
Benoit, the Managing Director and Master Roaster, stopped by to welcome us warmly and encouraged us to enjoy our meal ‘à la française’. Everything has been specially selected for our pleasure and our only task was to eat, drink and enjoy. The menu is very simple with a few entrées to chose from to get us started.
I chose the deep-fried camembert served with a chicory and watercress salad and cranberry sauce. This is my new favorite starter. The cheese was creamy and slightly salty. You could taste the quality of the cheese. The tangy sweetness of the cranberries with the bitter spiciness of the chicory rounded everything out.
My partner selected the Beetroot Gravlax with a cucumber salad which is salmon cured in beetroot. He enjoyed it thoroughly.
With our starters out of the way, it was time to get to the star of the show, the roasted chicken. I ordered the half portion of chicken with the secret sauce. Our server brought out a whole chicken and skillfully carved my portion table side setting each piece carefully on my warm plate. The last piece she served me was the special Chicken Oyster. I’d never heard of it. But, it’s the best part of the chicken,a small delicate piece of dark meat found on either side of the backbone.
They carefully source their free-range chicken from the very best British farms, prepare it using a secret method and masterfully roast it on the spit taking great care that each one is served perfectly. The meat was tender and succulent. The skin was crunchy and full of flavor. The secret sauce made with tarragon was a nice addition.
But, chicken isn’t the only meat that is best when roasted and each week they serve a special Sunday roast. My dinner companion was eager to sample the Roasted Suckling Pig that was on the menu the day we visited. It was served with a rhubarb sauce and a little white pitcher containing bacon infused truffle oil.
Les Accompagnements of gratin potatoes with turnips and garlic mushrooms were nice additions to the meal.
For dessert, my friend ordered the Financiers à la minute, delicate almond cakes served warm from the oven with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
I had the Madeleines à la minute also served hot from the oven with a pot of chocolate sauce. The chocolate wasn’t quite sweet enough for my Hershey trained palette and I preferred the lighter almond cakes.
Being a French restaurant, another detail they take very seriously is the wine selection. They have hand chosen and directly import a wonderful range of award winning Bordeaux wines all with scores of 85-100. We were able to visit the climate-controlled wine cave where they store an extensive collection of wine. They are all reasonably priced and many are also offered by the glass or half-bottle carafe.
Benoit acted as our very own Sommelier and selected three lovely wines to accompany our meal. Chablis ‘La Maladière’ 2011, Château Clauzet 2007 Médoc and my favorite the Domaine Tropez White Rosé 2012.
Le Secret des Rôtisseurs is a lovely restaurant with expansive views right on the river. They have a large summer terrace outside. The mezzanine is open and welcoming. You might even sit on some distinctive furniture with metal and rivet details reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower. Benoit purchased the distinctive tables and chairs at auction a few years ago when the famous Altitude 95 Restaurant at the Eiffel Tower was renovated.
It is obvious that this is a family venture and something they are very passionate about. We were happy to join them for a meal and wish them every success.
The Le Repas Parfait includes an entrée, half of a rôtisserie-roasted chicken,with or without the secret sauce and any accompagnement for £18.95. For family style dining, a whole chicken can be shared. They also have a vegetarian option on the menu.
The location in Westferry Circus is a little bit tricky if you don’t live in Canary Wharf. (If you do live or work in Canary Wharf, they have a convenient take-away counter.) One way to get there from Central London is the Thames Clipper as the Canary Wharf Pier is right on their doorstep.
Will we go back? Absolutely. I can’t wait to try out the summer terrace and have another glass of that wonderful rosé.