Award-winning fine dining at The French Table remains a delight, finds Paul Critcher
It’s been nearly three years since we reviewed The French Table, and given that it is one of the most popular fine dining restaurants in the local area, and has picked up a stack of awards over the years, an update was overdue. The team at The French Table won Best Fine Dining Restaurant and Best Service at T&L’s recent Food and Drink Awards, so I was looking forward to a great night out.
The restaurant is still owned and run by Eric and Sarah Guignard, and their passion for presenting tasty high-quality food that combines classic French cuisine with plenty of modern innovation remains undimmed. What also hasn’t changed since we last visited is the calm competence of the service team, the easy atmosphere of the intimate dining room which builds throughout the evening as the restaurant fills (incidentally it was full on a Wednesday night – a testament to its popularity), and the genuine care taken by all the staff to make sure their guests are enjoying the experience.
I say “experience” deliberately, because it’s more than just a meal – this is a restaurant that seeks to give you a complete dining experience like few others in the local area. It’s also good value at £45 per person for the three-course set dinner menu or £52 for the tasting menu – this is fine dining after all, and the perfect venue for a special celebration.
As for the food – wow! The soft poached egg with Italian winter truffle was suitably rich and comforting while the diver-caught Orkney scallops with lobster and poached plaice with kimchi served in a leek and crustacean consommé was sophisticated and tasty – the sharp kimchi making the perfect partner for the beautiful shellfish.
A main special of Wagyu beef bavette with braised ox cheek, pomme aligot with thyme, trompette mushroom and black peppercorn sauce was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the trio of 55-days-aged Hereford pork was bold with flavour, combining black pudding with brioche and apple compote, slow-cooked leg and a chop served with Calvados and pork sauce.
Regular readers will know that I’m always prepared to risk my waistline and go that extra mile for the cause. So for the sake of research, we each had a chocolate soufflé served with Armagnac ice cream. Apparently this is Eric’s mother’s recipe, and proof, if needed, that mums definitely know best. Full of sweet, chocolately goodness, it was delightful.
The French Table remains a shining light in the local restaurant scene and has contributed a great deal to making Maple Road the buzzy magnet for discerning foodies that is it is today – long may that success continue. This place is a winner!