As a belated birthday party after her exams, my sister decided to organise a dinner out with her uni friends and myself to top off turning 24. After scouring the well-crafted set menus available on high class restaurant site Bookatable (ideally suited to expensive tastes yet student budgets ), she settled on a venue as chic and dramatic as she is – Palm Court Brasserie, a 1920’s Parisian themed restaurant, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the socially buzzing piazza of Covent Garden.
Quirky and quintessential, you can’t help but be swept away by classic French romance as you arrive at Palm Court – a homely cream awning hangs overhead emblazoned with bright red lettering, whilst thick glass windows offer a tantalising glimpse at the stylish interior within. Once inside, you are instantly struck by the lively atmosphere; with music humming away in the background and the excitable chatter of friends and family whizzing around the room. The main room of the restaurant is narrow and long, reaching far into the back of the venue, although right next to the main entrance is a classic, polished wooden bar housing an array of spirits to tickle the taste buds. Plain white walls were anything but boring as they were decked out in large art nouveau style advertising prints that used strong strokes of bold and bright colours, framed in a deeply decadent black. Paired with the dark wooden floors, scattered potted palms and husky dimmed lighting accentuated by flickering pillar candles, Palm Court has a wonderfully intimate and cosy feel that reminds you of fond memories and good relationships, whilst also offering a high class level of food and service that may have been a bit beyond your last family gathering.
Since there was seven of us, we were given a large rectangular table, with soft sofa seating one side and dining chairs the other side of white linen draped table. The smartly dressed waiters were instantly putting us further at ease, joking and smiling, serving the still water in tall interesting shaped glass bottles, yet claiming it was really potent Sambuca. They quickly wriggled out of us the reason for our visit and I strongly suspected they wouldn’t forget it was our birthday celebration. The Bookatable offer that Jess had gone with entitled us all to a three course meal from a set menu as well as a champagne cocktail. We got to choose from two options, and we all went for the same one as something a bit different – the St Germain Royale, which contains classic champers matched with refreshingly floral elderflower liqueur. It was deliciously light and bubbly, reminding me of spring so it was an ideal start to the meal. After our cocktails, we settled on a couple of bottles of white wine to enjoy with the rest of our meal.
The starter that I had here is actually probably one of the best starters I have ever eaten. I opted for the baked brie in filo pastry, served with a cranberry chutney and the normal side salad garnish. Although not an overly fancy starter, I simply cannot convey how mesmerising it was. The brie was not your usual piddly cube, but a full on wedge shaped slab of thick, oozing brie, the white skin of the cheese visible through the golden flaky layers of the light filo pastry. The yellow centre of the mellow and tangy brie was simply succulent, and this goo paired with the delicate crunch of the baked filo was pure brilliance. Brie and cranberry is a traditional combination so paired with the chunky chutney, this starter was an absolute winner and divine to eat.
Being a full on carnivore, there is nothing I like more than getting stuck in to a hearty steak, so for my main course, I chose the classic steak frites. A juicy seared eight ounce slab of sirloin steak filled up half of my plate. I asked for it cooked medium rare and it hit the nail on the head there offering the perfect pinkness for my taste buds. It was wholesome and flavourful, with natural meat juices – just ideal, non-messed around with meat that didn’t need to be dressed up so demonstrate it’s quality. Served with a small side dish of mushroom coloured peppercorn sauce to add a touch of spice, as well as the usual skinny French fries, I literally chowed down and devoured this, enjoying every meaty mouthful. There were only a few small bits of fat on the steak, so it really was a gorgeous piece of meat and a really nice size too. Dunked in the sauce it was really yummy, although if I were to return, I think I would try the duck casserole which was my second choice.
I was torn when looking at desserts, as I take my sweet choices very seriously indeed, but in the end I settled for the valrhona chocolate tart served with mint Chantilly cream. The tart may have been served in a classic triangular wedge but it was actually the consistency and texture of a dense chocolate brownie, with a slightly crisp top and chocolatey crust around the edge. It was nice and tall so plenty to munch, and although I am not a fan of mint in the slightest, I actually really enjoyed the cream. The herb flavour was so light and unassuming that it merely added to the luxury of the thick blob of cream that was the texture of a fine mousse. It helped to break up the richness of the chocolate and I thoroughly enjoyed the combination, as well as the dessert as a whole. The waiters even speared Jess’s and my slices with a solitary birthday candle each before breaking into a gusty rendition of happy birthday, which was really thoughtful of them and very much appreciated.
The three course set menu was £20 per person, and I have to say the quality of the food we received as well as the fantastic atmosphere and talkative staff really enriched the experience, so £20 really was mere peanuts for the wonderful night out we had at Palm Court Brasserie. Their set menu had a brilliant array of food and there were plenty of choices in each course category that I really liked the sound of, so picking something I would enjoy was not a problem in the slightest. The quality of the ingredients of the food as well as the execution was great and I would absolutely love to return to this French-themed, glamorous hotspot.