Tuttons Brasserie Covent Garden:
For as long as I can remember, Tuttons Brasserie has been on the corner of Covent Garden Piazza and for as long as I can remember it’s somewhere that I’ve avoided! Why? Like everyone I had my own favourites in Covent Garden and Tuttons never quite made it. There was nothing particularly wrong with the place, but nothing outstanding about the food listed on the menu.
So, it was with a mixture of curiousity and apprehension that I accepted an invite to try the newly revamped menu in the newly refurbished restaurant.
We arrived on what was almost a sunny lunchtime and decided to risk eating al-fresco. After all, one of the best things about Covent Garden is people watching…Tuttons does have a rather splendid upmarket brasserie interior now – shiny, well padded leather banquettes, a glorious art deco ceiling and enough mirrors to satisfy even the neediest narcissist. But, outside, there’s a cordoned off dining area and a few seats just in front of the restaurant where we sat. The menu has been revamped to include a lot of British produce and although it is still essentially a Brasserie, I liked the introduction of some more unusual ingredients and flavour combinations.
To start I ordered Dorset crab, prawns and avocado salad while my companion chose the chicken liver pâté with quince & pearl onion preserve and toasted sourdough. There are an interesting range of starters and our choice was partly determined by the weather – it really wasn’t the right day to be eating Yorkshire black pudding or veal hearts, although they did look extremely tempting.
The crab was nicely presented and wonderfully fresh with my only complaint being that I really didn’t think the avocado puree warranted its own place on the list of ingredients. It was presented more as a garnish than integral part of the dish and personally I’d have preferred unadulterated slices of fresh avocado than something that looked as if it had come out of a squeezy tube.
The chicken liver pate looked pretty and my companion enjoyed the pate which was light and almost whipped and quince and pearl onion preserve accompaniment.
For my main course I chose the brasserie classic of sirloin steak with roast bone marrow and tarragon sauce while my companion picked the veal escalope with duck egg. Now, both dishes were very pleasant and nicely presented but, in the case of the veal escalope my companion and I both thought the duck egg looked and tasted very like a hens egg.
My steak was beautifully tender and a very well flavoured cut of meat. Perhaps slightly well-cooked for ‘rare’, it was enjoyable and didn’t suffer for being a little less pink than I’d expected. We also watched neighbouring tables ordering and devouring burgers which looked excellent.
Desserts were pleasant and well executed. I particularly enjoyed my chocolate mousse with home-made honeycomb and my companion’s crème brulee was excellent.
Tuttons has a small cocktail bar if you simply want a drink. I would imagine it can quite busy in the evenings but on a weekday lunchtime it was quiet and pleasant. And, the brasserie food is (almost) impeccably executed and reasonably priced for what can be an area that can be expensive. I’d be happy now to recommend it to friends for lunch or pre-theatre dinner and I’d suggest trying the more unusual options on the menu, all of which seem to have a British produce theme. Prices are for the most part under £10 for starters and under £20 for mains, although steak will cost you slightly more. Portion sizes are generous and service is excellent.