I was skeptical about visiting a luxury restaurant in the quiet leafy suburbs of Surbiton. How wrong I was! The French Table is a local treasure offering a far from mediocre dining experience.
Launched in 2001 by husband and wife team Eric and Sarah Guignard it has built a solid reputation by continually delivering high quality cuisine in a relaxed and unpretentious environment.
Eric, who trained in Paris and gained his experience in Michelin star restaurants, has created a mainly French themed menu supported by North African and Italian influences. From hearty Pork Belly to exotic monkfish- it caters for all taste buds.
Sarah who is absolutely charming, greeting visitors as though they were old friends and never missing a trick, showed us to our table. At no point is a glass left empty or a table forgotten.
The dining room itself is small and neat, the pale rose walls and table candles create an intimate and romantic setting. There were lots of couples smartly dressed for a Wednesday night and no doubt out for a special evening. As we sipped the house cocktail (an amazing apple martini) I watched the empty tables disappear and took it as a good sign. It`s certainly advisable to book ahead.
I started with a beautifully presented ceviche of seabass with crispy tiger prawns and finished in a lemon, soya and sesame sauce. The subtle flavours of the fish perfectly suited the Oriental dressing, it really was gorgeous. My friend went for the roast quail with pastilla of confit leg, ‘ras el hanout’ and argan oil. The quail was exceptionally tender and – I had severe food envy! Throughout we were also offered various different breads, from carrot to focccacia to brioche, and of course it means you have to try them all.
The mains followed on at a similarly high standard. I chose the roast cod which came on a light quinoa salad and was accompanied by a tartare of vegetables and a beautifully present `saffranee of queen scallops` that were tucked into a tiny glass. It seemed a shame to have to destroy the presentation!
My companion chose the duck with sweet potato croquettes, duck sausage and onions under a spicy sauce. If you love duck order this. It wasn’t greasy or too rich and the sweet potato really complimented the meats strong tones.
The sides represented the North African influences. We had chickpea coated broccoli and spicy cumin carrots. Without wanting to play down the wonderful main courses I have to add that these two sides were so good they are an essential for anyone visiting. Make room and do order them.
For desert the gratin of ‘gariguette’ strawberries with apricot coulis and ‘langue de chat’ brought us back into more French territory. Creamy yet with just enough sweetness.
Finally we rounded off with a desert wine and strong coffee. In fact the wine list in general is comprehensive and caters for all tastes and the staff are happy to advise what to drink with your meal.
A warm atmosphere, polished service, charming staff and incredible food- a reason to seek out Surbiton!
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