Coq d’Argent: 7.5

(by peter)

First, a disclaimer.

This review is inevitably going to be coloured by the fact that we were celebrating. Susie’s incredible award-winning performance at the new Master of Wine investiture meant that our family group was buzzy, cheery and frankly on top of the world. Plus we’d had a good deal of really quite sumptuous Bollinger.

But I like to think that this in no way altered our critical faculties. It’s our job to cope with these kinds of mind-altering scenarios, in any case. Our motto generally is: we shall not be swayed (when it comes to judging food and wine).

Things were pretty busy in this plush sixth-floor restaurant when we arrived. A few hardy souls were enjoying the fresh air on the terrace, but inside it was teeming. A table of city boys (together with a lone, pretty girl) sat loudly around an empty and very old-looking bottle of Léoville-Poyferré, jabbing mobile phones and occasionally engaging each other in a vaguely menacing fashion. People generally looked businesslike and glamorous. The serving staff had a slightly world-weary air.

We went for the set menu. Two courses of which were more than adequate (especially when followed by very pleasant teas/coffees and petits fours). Washed down by a bottle of the ultra reliable, brilliant value, ever delicious Pieropan Soave (all glazed almonds and intense lemony umami flavours – succulent and one of the best value whites on this particular list, at £38).

Five of us (before eyebrows start to be raised, some of the party weren’t drinking) managed to eat all of this, be suitably sated and impressed, all for under £200. Not bad for this part of town.

I had lobster bisque: very good, not great – a little light on the salt (though my body thanked me for it later) and heavy on the pepper. Susie had braised pig cheek: rich and sinewy and melt-in-the-mouth. For main, I went for the duck: studiously undercooked but super tender, and with a brilliantly well-judged gingerbread and baked plum. Those who know me know that I am extremely wary of any kind of fresh fruit with my savoury courses (chutneys being a notable exception) and even warier of cake but this was beautiful, subtle and sensationally seasonal. Top marks.

What’s more, the new potatoes…tasted like potato. Which pleased me no end.

The only thing that was slightly depressing was the service. While our waitress was delightful, the bread arrived as we were finishing our starters (albeit piping hot from the oven), many glasses stood empty (a cardinal sin in my world), the green beans we ordered mysteriously morphed into spinach and those all-important petits fours had to be demanded, up in arms.

But by the time we left, Susie’s various certificates, awards and handbags piled precariously in our arms, we were still a happy bunch. Mainly due to the quality of the food. The wine list could have done with a few more good-value options and looked slightly heavy on the mark-up after a cursory inspection (we were thirsty) but the wine it yielded performed perfectly decently. And the service…is in need of refreshment.

In summary, if you find yourself both in a generous spirit and in the City of London, pop into Coq d’Argent. It’s tasty.

Rating: 7.5/10