Angelus – A Culinary Devotion

This charming French restaurant is celebrating its 8th birthday and Peter Morrell goes along to taste why it continues to be such a success.

A few steps after crossing the very busy Bayswater Road from Hyde Park is the quaint and quiet Bathhurst Street with its adjoining Mews. One of the street’s claims to fame is it’s stables, making it the only working mews in London. Next door to the stables used to be a pub, once frequented by Winston Churchill for clandestine meetings, but for the last 8 years it has been home to Thierry Tomasin’s charming restaurant Angelus.

The transformation from the Archery Tavern to today’s incarnation has been dramatic. It’s art deco touches, leather banquettes and crisp white tablecloths give it the authentic feel of a solid, bourgeois French establishment. My wife and I started our evening there with a preprandial drink in the comfortable bar at the back, she sipped on a blanc de noire champagne while I enjoyed a kir. While in the bar we had a flick through the brunch menu served from 10:00am. After a stroll in the park you can pop in for anything from a croissant and coffee to a ‘full French’ breakfast.

At table we nibbled on home-made bread and were impressed with the amuse bouche of pork and carrot mousse on pastry, it was delicate, beautifully presented and set the tone for the rest of the meal.

The à la carte menu is split into two sections, entrées and plats and both offer an interesting mix of dishes made with both French and British ingredients. There are options for every taste from vegetarian to full-blooded carnivore with steps along the way. For a starter I was tempted by the grilled Orkney scallops with native lobster tempura, crushed minted summer peas, golden raisin coulis and oyster mayonnaise, a good example of the care taken to assemble a range of tastes and textures into a harmonious whole, my wife was very close to ordering the double baked cheese soufflé with parmesan ice cream.

Our eventual choice was to share the very rich duck liver crème brûlée ‘Angelus’ with caramelised almonds, poppy seeds and toasted prune & Armagnac bread. This was a unique eating experience that foodies crave, a mix of sweet and savoury, crisp and creamy and all matched with a luscious sweet wine, the sauternes La Fleur d’Or, which gave lots of bright honey and orange notes on the palate and a lingering finish.

Our mains had been equally as difficult to choose, the liquorice baked loch Duart salmon looked intriguing as did the whole roast pigeon D’Anjou. If my inclination had been vegetarian then the smoked Romano pepper stuffed with Mediterranean couscous would have been attractive. My wife’s final decision was the pan fried Scottish halibut while mine was the Tidenham duck.

The fish was packed with flavour and came with Cornish squid, Scottish girolles, Somerset peas, broad beans and sea air foam, again it was a clever combination of ingredients. My duck assiette was delicious, a trio of pink breast, pan fried gizzard and confit leg with glazed turnip purée, pak choy, red gooseberry gel and cherry jus, the meat being tempered with the sweet acidity of the fruit.

Our wine pairings for this course was a chablis with the fish, the Domaine de Vauroux, it had apples and pears on the bouquet which developed into mineral and citrus tones in the mouth and ended with a pleasantly dry finish. My duck was accompanied by a Côtes de Bourg, Château Civrac. This cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec blend had cherry and other stone fruit on the nose which led to a spicy palate and the well balanced tannins gave it a strong finish.

Owner Thierry Tomasin was formerly Chairman of the Sommelier ‘s club of Great Britain so one of the restaurant’s strongest suits is it’s wine cellar. There is an impressive selection of predominantly French wines that Thierry has carefully curated over the years.

Our grand finale was dessert, there was cheese for those with a savoury tooth but we couldn’t resist the Assiette of Angelus desserts for two. This was a stunning array of puddings, from the refreshing mango sorbet to the downright decadent chocolate made with Valrhona Caribe 66%. In between was grilled white peach with crushed amaretti, almond ice cream, a feather light raspberry soufflé and a cherry clafoutis.

Service from the French front of house team was impeccable and their intimate knowledge of the food and wine helped us make all the right choices. After the meal I took a quick look around, there is a cosy private dining room in the basement which can seat up to 22 people and in the kitchen a chef’s table that can accommodate 4 to 6 people.

This was a dining experience of the highest order and it is easy to understand the enduring success of Angelus since its opening in 2007.

To mark its 8th birthday the restaurant has devised a special multi course Menu Decouverte. This will take diners on a special culinary tour of France serving dishes from five different regions. The menu will be available throughout September, to find out more click here…

Angelus Restaurant and Lounge
4 Bathurst Street
London W2 2SD
020 7402 0083

All images (c)Angelus