The Brasserie Vacherin is the brainchild of top chef Malcolm John and is perfectly placed to appeal to the discerning Surrey commuter. Situated in central Sutton and moment`s walk from the train station, the location means you can wine and dine at your leisure, sure of an accessible means of getting home.
The cuisine is French and the prices mid-range, so it is likely to attract diners who are weary of the ubiquitous establishments Sutton offers. The restaurant has a relaxed feel not always evident in restaurants of this type – it has none of the uptight self-consciousness that sometimes accompanies the uber-cool. Rather, juxtaposing the modern interior is an atmosphere of rustic charm that seems effortless but probably took an awful lot of planning.
The décor is simple; dark wooden floors, tables and chairs, simple glass tumblers and wooden salt and pepper pots create French authenticity. The smoky jazz drifting over the sound system on our arrival added to the atmosphere of a backstreet Parisian café.
The service was attentive yet relaxed; coats were taken and the drinks menu proffered. My partner was particularly impressed with the layout of the wine menu, which categorised the wines according to their body. Prices start at £12.50 a bottle for a `fresh and lively` white, progressing to £69.00 for a 2007 Cahteauneuf du Pape. The menu has plenty to offer the meat eater or seafood lover, but choices for vegetarians are limited. My partner`s choice of starter was wise; the escargots produced were delightfully moist and served with artisan bread to mop up the wonderful garlic butter. My choice of baked vacherin cheese with almond and truffle crust was gooey, rich and with a depth of flavour that satisfied the palette beautifully.
Brasserie Vacherin`s main course selection should provide something for most, although vegetarians may be disappointed to see goat`s cheese tart on the menu. Pescetarians do better; my Brasserie fish pie was bursting with mussels, prawns and smoked haddock. The crust was crispy and the pie had a smoky flavour that was sublime. My partner opted for Barbary duck confit with sauce a l`orange, and this seemed a popular choice on the night. Rightly so -the duck was tender and pulled away from the bone beautifully.
We finished the evening in true French style – tart au pomme with accompanying coffee. The waiter reluctantly informed us it would be a 15 minute wait for the tart, but this was certainly worth it. It was a triumph- rich pastry that crumbled, with a gorgeous syrupy apple filling reminiscent of the treats on offer in the patisseries of France. This continued the feeling that we had stumbled across a treasure of a restaurant in the backstreets of Paris, not on a main street in Sutton. I imagine plenty more people will be discovering the secret soon.
More information here – www.brasserievacherin.co.uk
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