An Evening at Le Restaurant de Paul, Covent Garden
One gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon a group of food blogger friends met up to try out the new restaurant opened by Paul bakery in Covent Garden. The evening was organised by the lovely Karen Burns Booth, who writes at Lavendar And Lovage, a beautiful blog full of classic seasonal recipes. I for one was very excited to attend, not only to catch up with my friends, but to also savour the delicious pastries on offer.
I remember first hearing about the famous bakery when I was at primary school. At the time, there were very few decent bakeries in London, and I remember my friend’s parents would make a special trip to Covent Garden every Saturday to pick up bread, pastries and other delights. They had moved over from France in the 80s, and Paul was one of the few places in London where they felt at home, with familiar flavours and aromas of authentic french bread. When I got a bit older, the same friend and I would often take the bus into London town to wonder around the shops, and it was on one of these visits that she finally introduced me to the famous Paul bakery in Covent Garden. I remember being in awe of the breads and pastries on display and don’t get me started on the cakes, I’m salivating just thinking about it. It was the first time I tried a “proper” croissant, soft, buttery, crispy and flaky all at once, a far cry from what our supermarkets were selling. From then on, I would pop into the shop whenever I had the chance. And today, the chain has grown with coffee shops all over London, but it’s the original Covent Garden bakery that will always have a special place in my heart.
When Karen first invited me to Paul, I was expecting to sample cakes and pastries or perhaps even some savoury snacks, such as quiche. I had no idea they had opened a bistro. From the outside Le Restaurant de Paul had the familiar look of their other bakeries, but when I walked through the double doors, I was amazed at the decor, which is what I imagine classic french chic to be. I loved the soft furnishings, and everyone who knows me, knows my love for all things grey, with accents of various shades of this colour dotted all over my house. We all sat down on the plush sofas, and were offered the menus and some refreshments. The staff were very friendly and helpful, answering all our questions.
We started with two sharing platters, the charcuterie platter and the vegetarian platter, with the latter accompanied with freshly made cheese gougères (a savoury cheese puff made out of choux dough and filled with gruyere cheese). As you can see from the picture, these were huge and plentiful. For mains, I couldn’t resist the garlicky Toulouse sausages with warm creamy mash. I savoured every mouthful. I looked around the table and was impressed with the other dishes too, especially the half roast chicken and sea bass.
We didn’t have any room for dessert, but I couldn’t resist their dark chocolate dessert, rounded off with a warming cup of coffee. All in all, I had a great time catching up with friends. The restaurant is reasonably priced, with mains ranging from £8 to £17, and has a good selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. I will definitely be returning to share the experience with my family.