Saturday, 9 May 2009
A birthday lunch at La Vallée Blanche.
Today was the step-father's 52nd (52nd!) birthday, and luckily for everyone involved (mother, the birthday man, sibling no.2, 3 & 4 and myself) he chose to go to La Vallée Blanche for lunch. And, dear lord, this restaurant is seriously, seriously, good.
It's formal enough to feel special, but really relaxed and comfy enough to bring kids to (although I get horribly stressed when going out to a restaurant with the family, and I really wouldn't want to go there for dinner accompanied by small kiddies). You completely forget the ambience, however, because when the food comes you focus on little else. Everything is just so well balanced, seasoned perfectly, and the great ingredients make everything outstanding.
Even something as potentially bland and uninteresting as a vegetable salad was a complete delight - the shallot dressing was lovely, and not at all onion-y, and the vegetables were so small, cute and tasty I felt slightly guilty at the display of carrot infanticide. Potted chicken with toasted onion bread was utterly delicious, as was the chargrilled pork chop with cassoulet.
For dessert, the sister had lemon posset & blood orange panna cotta. The posset was lovely, but I thought the panna cotta was outstanding. The youngest brother (3) demolished a pot au chocolat with thyme shortbread. Luckily I managed to get a spoonful - it was intense and smooth and very very good, and the shortbread was beautifully light and crisp with a hint of the herb about it.
The birthday man was very upset when he saw everyone else getting some exquisite petits fours. I told him that it was probably because we were having dessert and it made no sense to have them at the same time. Thank goodness they came with the bill, because I was worried everyone would start crying if they had stayed absent. There were tiny profiteroles, cubes of pineapple jelly (like a grown-up fruit pastille, except brimming with flavour), pistachio jelly, peanut butter biscuits, and some more of the thyme shortbread. These were promptly demolished by the children, and thoroughly enjoyed. Oh, and I guess I should mention that a three-course lunch is £12.95 - an astounding price given the outstanding quality of food and service. There's also a fantastic burger if you don't fancy the French/Scottish theme.
So, if you're ever on Byres Road (Glasgow, Scotland), this restaurant is most certainly worth a visit.