French cuisine with an international flavour
by John Whelan
Park Plaza Hotel
Tel 0333 400 6112
After making my way back from a day out at the seaside, and struggling through traffic at a standstill, Brasserie Joël proved an oasis of calm just a short walk from the South Bank.
The menu offers your usual French brasserie dishes, such as beef bourguignon and delicious traditional French onion soup, supplemented by favourites from around the world such as Argentine rib eye steak and hummus, moutabal and pitta bread.
There is plenty of choice for vegetarians including a delicious ratatouille and a scialatelli pasta arrabiata.
The décor at Brasserie Joël is red and dark, which gives it an intimate feel, and it is authentically French with Parisian-style water beakers and soup bowls you would expect at any eaterie across the Fifth Republic.
Our eyes were caught by the whole sea bass on the menu but my companion opted for the Argentine rib eye steak which she described as “full of flavour and done to perfection on the charcoal grill – plus it was seasoned well.”
The menu credits French cuisine by Cedric Touchard – who has worked in top restaurants in France and East Asia – which goes explaining the attention to detail behind the offerings.
Diners looking for a deal can enjoy a fixed price menu for £30 a head from 5.30 to 7.30 p.m. with three courses, but it is limited to a maximum of eight people per party.
The Park Plaza is well known for its blue-ribbon events including the annual British Kebab Awards. However, the stock in trade of the hotel restaurant is business visitors staying overnight or local folk from Waterloo and Lambeth.
Wines with dinner are well-chosen. My partner enjoyed a rosé for an eye-watering £8.75 a glass and then we shared a Cuvee Vignerons Vinde France for £29.95 a bottle.
Lovers of the grape would find much else from which to choose. We benefited from a 20 per cent discount offered to residents living close to the Park Plaza which seemed generous and reduced our bill to £68.96. If you can spare a sum like this, then check out Brasserie Joel.