London is a bustling city, with the centre a cultural circus from theatre to street art, ballet to buskers, so when I was asked to do a review of Tuttons in Covent Garden I was excited and praying that the rainy weather would end. As it was, the sun came out, umbrellas and overcoats disappeared and the familiar throng of people looking at the shops and enjoying the market stalls engulfed the place.
Tuttons is at the side of Covent Garden Piazza, and although going through a refurnish of the outside of the building, it is clearly identifiable by its bright red signage, red tables and chairs outside and smartly attired friendly staff waiting to greet you at the front. The weather was so nice we decide to sit outside, the well thought out tables spaced far enough apart that the passers-by do not spoil your enjoyment of the location.
A friendly waiter took our order and offered us a bottle of house red. The house red was in fact a very pleasant Albrizu Tempranillo 2011 which suited both the food ordered and the sunshine of outside eating. The wine glasses were long stemmed with a clean sharp edge – always a good sign.
For starters I ordered Free Range Chicken Liver Pate with a quince and pearl onion preserve. My partner chose the Dorset Crab, Prawns and avocado with red pepper dressing. The other starters included honey rolled beef Carpaccio, wild mushrooms, duck, salmon and oysters so there was a good choice.
The Crab arrived, beautifully presented, but was a bit surprising having avocado dressing as a sauce rather than pieces of avocado – it must be an American thing!
The Chicken Liver was very tasty, the quince really adding a zing to the flavour.
The selection of mains included a good range of British meats. For main I chose the Buckinghamshire Veal wrapped in Parma ham, with duck egg, lemon, sage and anchovy butter. My partner chose the classic Sirloin Steak with roast Bone Marrow and Tarragon sauce. Both came with skinny fries, but we were recommended to take a salad and Bubble and Squeak to round things out.
The Sirloin, ordered rare, was well presented and succulent, cutting easily and nicely pink on the inside. It was of a suitable size that would not fail to please.
The Veal however did not look appetising, more as if it had been thrown on a plate by a cheap café than laid out by design, especially compared to the delicate layout of other dishes being served. The egg looked more like a chicken egg, and tasted like one. Once past the initial disappointment of seeing the dish, the taste was not what was expected either. The subtle taste of the veal was hidden by the stronger taste of the Parma ham wrapped around it, even though it was very fine and beautifully crafted. This was probably a reflection on using too good a quality of ham. Any possible Veal taste left was then hidden by the anchovy and lemon. It all tasted very good, cut easily with no chewy bits and worked together as a meal, but it was not the veal taste you might expect, hence my slight disappointment.
On reflection I should have had a steak; or a burger which many of the other diners were having and looked very good indeed.
No meal is finished without a good desert, and I chose the Crème Brulee (don’t I always) with my partner choosing the Chocolate Mousse with Honeycomb topping.
Both arrived well presented, with my Crème Brulee having a thick topping with a very smooth body flecked with vanilla pod seeds. Really well made!
The food and wine made for a very good lunch, and would be an ideal way to have a break in the middle of the day before going on shopping or to the theatre or other event. The prices are not expensive for London with starters under £10 and mains around £20 along with a good wine list that really does offer value for money, especially for the lighter lunchtime reds. Tuttons is definitely somewhere to go to both impress and enjoy.
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