Le Garrick
10-12 Garrick Street
Covent Garden
Westminster WC2E 9BH
Let’s just be straight here. There’s no freaking way one can eat French food, in London, with the budget we have. NO WAY. And finding a French restaurant within the M25, is a mammoth task given the endless choice. Le Garrick, in Covent Garden, is quite popular and very nice from the street. Yes, mixed reviews especially commenting on the poor service, but we could have ended up looking for a French restaurant for years – literally, YEARS – so we took the risk.

As I said, the place is very nice. Tiny. Romantic and rustic at the same time. Red bricks, little tables, candles: perfect for a first date. The waitress was very welcoming and nice. And pretty and graceful too!…Of course, she’s French…

So far so good. The menu’ arrives and it is as French as you can possibly think. Probably for the first time in ages, I haven’t seen the word “Mezze” or “Hummous” or “Bruschetta” on a list. Unspoilt, uncomplicated, honest French cuisine. We shared a Salade de Chèvre Chaud, which was good. Too a simple dish to judge, though. Edo, who loves French food to the point he dreams about it at night, had Cassoulet de Toulouse: white beans served with duck, sausages and pork. I opted for the classic of the classics: Coquelet au Citron. It took a while before the food arrived and when it finally did, it wasn’t a good surprise. Edo’s Cassoulet was very greasy and heavy. If you order sausages you don’t expect lightness that’s true, but you don’t expect the other ingredients to taste like obese pork either. He didn’t manage to finish it. As for me, I ate almost nothing! After having spent a good 1/2hr deboning my chicken and trying to find a tiny piece of meat among the mess, I gave up. Had some of the fries that came with, but I don’t like soggy fries so…

No dessert, no coffee, a disappointing meal for £35 each. Not worth it. Now that I know £20 only buys you a baguette at Paul next time I’ll go for quality rather than value. French food and French wines deserve to be celebrated and enjoyed and for French food I ‘m prepared to put my famous parsimony aside for once!

  • Food: 2.5
  • Ambience: 4
  • Service: 3
  • Value: 2
  • Overall: 2.87
Picking the place for this one was an absolute agony. A combination of the abundance of choice and my high opinion of French cuisine made narrowing down to one place exceptionally hard. This also generated tensions with Monica because I inevitably pushed for over-budget places. At one point I even went as far as saying: “Darling, just for this one, just because it’s French, why don’t we forget the rules and just go to Le Gavroche?” That didn’t win me any brownie points on the cost-saving, let’s-be-consistent-with-the-whole-point-of-this-exercise front. I spent months suggesting places that were turned down for being over-budget. In fairness my wife also spent months picking places which she subsequently found out were over-budget… the thing is there is a lot of choice but even the somewhat basic places tend to be already somewhat upscale. They know they can charge for it and it’ll still be worth it – I for one am firmly prepared to pay more for a French restaurant.

So in the end we chose a pretty bistrot in Covent Garden. Starting from the good stuff: the place is romantic and has a lovely atmosphere. Great for a date, based on ambience. Also very French, whatever that means.

Service was good, the waitress was actually French – it does make a difference – very kind and efficient.
Food was… mmmh… not so good, sadly. My chevre chaud was alright but that’s hard to get wrong if you put the correct salad and the correct cheese. The cassoulet de Toulouse had great beans and decent sausages but the duck was miserable – tiny and sad – whilst the pork was tough and tasteless. Monica was not impressed by her chicken but I did not try it. The wine was alright, cheap and cheerful.

On the whole it was an OK meal in a reasonably nice place but we spent a lot of money for the value. It was a £75 meal for fuck’s sake; it’s cheap in the grand scheme of things but not for a simple bistrot meal that sadly failed to deliver good food. Particularly compared to other places in this mission this was bad value for money. Yes, it’s in Covent Garden but even then we have been to lots of nicer, cheaper places in prime locations as part of this mission. Even though we did pick a place on paper which had an average starter-main price combined between £20 and £25, as per the rules, the total cost magically went up. I suppose it is just the wrong type of endeavour to try and eat a simple French meal in London. Better to do that in France – plenty of choice there – or just shell out significantly more in London to have some of the best food in the world.

  • Food: 2
  • Ambience: 3
  • Service: 2.5
  • Value: 2
  • Overall: 2.37