Friday, November 15, 2013

Le Vieux Comptoir: French Wine Store and Cafe in Marylebone

Le Vieux Comptoir is a muddle of a place. It initially opened as a French wine shop and then they expanded the downstairs area into a café with a charming courtyard and a delicatessen. We found it was a rather nice place to go for brunch in Marylebone. I liked how there were lot of French dishes you don’t normally see at other cafés like Oeufs Cocotte and I thought in time, it would provide some healthy competition to the massively popular Fromargerie next door.

Le Vieux Comptoir eggs Oeufs cocotte ginfizzgirl marylebone


But on our most recent visit, I found myself quite bemused with the changes made. The layout was changed with more seating added and strangest addition was the presentation of three different menus: Breakfast, Brunch and an All-day menu. And at 12 noon on a Sunday, it seemed we could order from all of them. There was only one chef in the open kitchen and when we went, all the tables were full. Given the number of people and the vast array of choices, I really don’t know the she managed all the cooking by herself. When we there, the family of five next to us ordered from the all day menu, the elderly couple other side of us, ordered from the breakfast menu and to complicate it further, we ordered a salad and eggs Benedict from the brunch menu!

Of course, this led to a long wait as each dish came out on by one. The waiters seemed overwhelmed and there were quite a few rudimentary mistakes made. The comedy of errors started with our food being was served with no cutlery provided. Then we discovered they gave us the wrong salad despite writing down our order and finally, without even asking us if we were done, they removed our dishes before we were finished.

Despite these criticisms, I'm not ready to write off Le Vieux Comptoir. I like the originality of some of the dishes and the quirkiness of the place yet some improvements definitely need to be made. For one, they really need define what they are. Right now, they are specialty French wine shop where you can buy French salami and cheese and also a café and restaurant depending on the menu you choose. Which brings me to the menu which needs some serious editing; there is absolutely no need to have three separate menus. It's too confusing for the customers and too much work for the kitchen. The waiters, lovely as they are, also need more training.

Hopefully, as time goes by these wrinkles get ironed out as I do really like the manager and the staff. And the cooking is fabulous and the croissants are always fresh. The chef certainly knows what’s she’s doing in that kitchen. So I think the best time to visit would be off-peak – before 11 am or after 2 pm when it’s not so crowded. And perhaps if I go back I will try the fourth menu available, the ‘Afternoon Tea’ menu. ;)

Le Vieux Comptoir

26/28 Moxon Street, Marylebone London W1U 4EU    

Tel: 0207 224.0303
Tube: Baker Street/Bond Street
http://levieuxcomptoir.co.uk/

Le Vieux Comptoir on Urbanspoon




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