French and Grace (and a bit of Jay Rayner)

The tables were turning in more ways than one when I popped in to get my fill of Jay Rayner at French and Grace (Brixton Village) this Easter. This all came about from a challenge given to Jay by the editor of The Observer Magazine – the challenge was to make as much profit as possible from a mere £100. What with being a food critique and fan of Brixton Village himself, the natural conclusion of course was to devise, cook and serve a cheap but tasty Special to the ogling public (that includes me). Was this kind or crazy for the girls at French and Grace to accept?!?

Jay’s dish du jour was announced a few days before to “a bunch of people on Twitter who are so desperate for a distraction from their jobs that they will read anything” (again, that includes me) – Slow cooked Pork Belly with White Beans – sounds good to me.

Donned in chef whites and a Marco Pierre White-esque bandaner, Jay didn’t look 100% himself in the cosy kitchen, and understandably so for the service was a busy one and the punters were keen to converse. The kitchen is on full display and we were sat close enough to hear the chopping of knife on board and fat sizzling away in the pan.  I’m no stranger to the sensation after working in a french chalet with an open plan kitchen for 6 months, trying to juggle 6 pans, chit chat and children tugging at my apron strings. Alas, nothing that Rosie and Ellie (the founders of French and Grace) don’t have to contend with on a daily basis!

And so the food arrives. I went for the Pork Belly Special and my man chose the Uber Wrap, a Middle Eastern inspired dish with Lamb Merguez (spiced lamb sausage), Halloumi, Hummus and Salad in a flatbread.

The Pork Belly I have to say was really well cooked – gloriously tender meat, no knife needed here, with just the right amount of juicy fat. It was nicely caramelised so full of flavour, and the jus which was flavoured with thyme, oozed into the beans and brought the whole dish together.  Every bean on that plate was squashed to mop up the meaty pork sauce! A simple, no frills dish that was well executed.

I had a mouthful of the the mans Uber Wrap which was equally tasty.  The combination of lamb and halloumi is always a crowd pleaser and I thought the Merguez had a decent amount of spice.  The typical menu at French and Grace has a strong Middle Eastern theme with Mezze platters, Flatbread Wraps and other specials that change frequently.  I’m keen to return and sample more.

Big thanks to the team at French and Grace for a lovely lunch – I hope you enjoyed your post service drink!  Well deserved indeed.

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