Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
I went to La Rascasse feeling cynical. The prospect of âthree venues under one roof, based on the CafÃ© Grand Prix, Monaco, the only bar and restaurant in the world situated inside a Formula One circuit didnât thrill me. But I was forced to eat my words.
It is the harsh lighting and aluminium dÃ©cor of the Pit Brasserie that you see first, complete with a real racing car on display. La Rascasse is just downstairs but there is a world of difference, the opulent dining room being fashioned in the Belle Epoque style. The high ceilings, pillars and rich upholstery create a sense of grandeur - you can even lord it in your own private balcony if you wish.
While the space was impressive, it made it all the more apparent that we were the only customers. Undaunted, we took our seats, led by the particularly affable maitre dâ. After ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the dÃ©cor, our thoughts turned to the food. My companionâs starter, a veloutÃ© of haricots blancs, was a creamy, flavoursome concoction and not bland as expected. It came with a perfect measure of truffle oil that set it off to a tee. My salmon tagliatelle was divine. The buttery pasta, super-fresh salmon and pesto sauce complemented each other perfectly. So far, so good.
For main course I plumped for the medallions of pork with red cabbage. The meat was well cooked, succulent and dressed in a delicious jus. Meanwhile, my friend was eagerly tucking into a generous portion of sea bass. Soft, moist and perfectly flaky, it met with whole-hearted approval. All of this was washed down with a superb bottle of premier cru Chablis. Service throughout was excellent - friendly and attentive, but never overly so.
For dessert, my companion and I shared a chocolate and hazelnut cake, dressed with coconut emulsion and brown sugar ice cream. The cake was rich with that bite chocolate lovers crave. The coconut emulsion worked well too, but it was the brown sugar ice cream that did it. I've never had brown sugar ice cream before. Having sampled it, I was left wondering just how I got through almost 30 years not knowing that it existed. Iâd go back just for that.
I liked La Rascasse. It isnât cheap Ã la carte - starters come in at around the Â£9 mark, with mains ranging between Â£15-25. But the restaurant also offers set menus for lunch and dinner (Â£20) that offer great value. It really deserves to be busier. Maybe you should make it so.