Thursday 27 April 2023

Ploussard, Battersea

As much as I complained on these pages that all the exciting new restaurants were opening up not handily close to where I live in SW11, but in far-flung places like Dalston or Shoreditch or Highgate, part of me still hoped that something would eventually come along to prove me wrong. And so it happens that in Battersea, not on the restaurant desert of Lavender Hill but close enough on Battersea Rise, I learned of a new place called Ploussard whose menu was full of the kind of exciting things you'd want to eat any day of the week, at prices that seem to have ignored the last couple of years of rampant inflation.

It really is a thing of beauty, is the Ploussard menu. Boasting an irresistable combination of fresh shellfish, seasonal favourites like asparagus, and the odd nod to the continent with things like paté en croute, most items are around the £5-£15 mark with only a course of beef in green peppercorn sauce cracking £25. This being an invite, we didn't see a bill, but having totted up our order post-event I can tell you that the total for two would have been around £100 with plenty of booze - pretty decent value for 2018 never mind 2023. Of course, there's always the risk that after the traditional "review period" is over these will start to creep up, but still, it's worth mentioning.

That booze, by the way, came first in the form of a "Meadow & sorrel martini", ticking all the required foraging boxes whilst still being a very clean, crisp version of a gin martini. It was lovely, making me want to go back and try their other house cocktail "Sage negroni" at some point, assuming it's available (the menu changes daily).

Whipped smoked cod's roe with squid ink crackers was another early indicator that there's some serious skill in the kitchen at Ploussard. I've had pretty flat and underwhelming versions of dishes of this type at Michelin-starred joints in central London (recently, too) but this was literally perfect, the cod's roe being supremely smooth and packed full of flavour, and the crackers crisp, salty and greaseless.

"Lincolnshire poacher eclairs" were on the menu, and so obviously were ordered. They were very clever little things indeed, with loads of lovely salty cheese filling and a nice delicate choux casing, and were great fun to eat. I've also had pretty ropey gougere at fancy central London joints recently, so I know how difficult these are to get right. They had got these right.

Asparagus were giant, robust UK versions - none of your limp Peruvian imports here thank you - with a lovely flavour and paired with a nice tart sauce gribiche which had been topped with toasted walnuts for a bit of extra texture.

Even better, though - impossible though it seems - was a "Lamb and anchovy crumpet". A tried and tested flavour combination perhaps, but lifted to new levels here thanks to plenty of minced lamb soaked in lamb jus and with the anchovy coming - I think - in the form of a kind of emulsion spread on top. Sliced like a pie you had a good amount of the anchovy-spread lamb and a home made crumpet, crunchy on the outside and bubbly within. It was glorious.

By the time the beef arrived, we had polished off quite a bit of food, and it could have been for this reason only that it was the only dish that didn't completely dazzle. Don't get me wrong, it was still impressive, with thick slices of pink beef slightly lacking in char, but with nicely charred vegetables all soaked in a salty peppercorn sauce. It was just "very good", though, whilst everything else had been "blinding".

"Rhubarb and custard" came in the form of a rhubarb compote sitting underneath a swirl of whipped custard cream, topped with a perfect rhubarb sorbet and some nice broken biscuits. The custard just dissolved in the mouth and the sorbet had just the right balance of tart and sweetness. In short, another masterclass.

I used to worry that I would score places a point of two higher if they were walkable from my house because of the joy of not having to navigate the London transport network after dinner. My memories of the meal wouldn't be tainted by the grim trudge through Victoria station at 9pm to discover half the trains were cancelled, or that the 344 bus was randomly terminating at Bank. I tried not to let these things affect me, but who knows.

Ploussard, though, doesn't need that boost. Hell, it doesn't even need me - every table was taken, some more than once, on the night I visited barely a week or two after opening, each available dining spot occupied largely (presumably) by locals like me who couldn't quite believe their luck. A neighbourhood restaurant, exciting, modern, seasonal, good value and with smart service? In Battersea? Whatever next.


I was invited to Ploussard and didn't see a bill. As I point out above though, expect to pay about £50/head.


Alicia Foodycat said...

I'm regretting not working in SW11 anymore! Although the schlep home to Bedford after that meal would be brutal.

Anonymous said...

If they don’t need your help, don’t you feel even slightly guilty damaging their overheads by not paying your way for your food? With hospitality in this state, the amount of freebies you take is an increasingly tin-eared look.

It really is me again said...

looks nice, is the flat bread curry place in Battersea (also at Euston) ? My hotels are out of London centre (massively cheaper) So anything out of town is always looked at. South Bromley(24mins on the train , station opposite the premier). Booked a hotel in Edgeware on the cheap , Bang Bang mrkt. Again glad to see your keeping CB going , hope your well.

Chris Pople said...

Yes - Roti King. The rotis (and curries) are lovely but avoid the rendang, which is a bit dry.