Restaurant review: Brasserie Vacherin, Croydon

By - Thursday 20th February, 2014

Chef Malcolm John brings a touch of Gallic flair to South End

Brasserie Vacherin, 48-50 South End, Croydon CR0 1DP Tel. 020 8774 4060
Time from East Croydon:   15 minutes 

Photo by Tom Lickley. All rights reserved.

It’s early January. The wind is howling tempestuously down South End, the rain lashing on to the pavement. If Croydon is ever to be the setting for a Greek epic poem (imagine that), the dystopian climate which greeted the start of 2014 would surely serve as the prologue.

As fellow Citizen contributor Cormac Mannion and I staggered into Brasserie Vacherin from the wilderness, brushing off the raindrops, the warm, safe nature of chef Malcolm John’s French restaurant provided a welcome shelter from the storm. A glass of house red each – a 2012 Bergerie de la Bastide, a light and fruity Merlot – was ordered, and we settled down to examine the menu.

Upon first glance, the interior of the restaurant would not look lost on a Parisian boulevard; a stylish bar opposes the entrance, with a cushioned bench flanking a row of tables in the restaurant itself. A fresh fish stall tempts all who enter, its silver offering a treasure chest of marine delights. On a previous visit, a tuxedo-ed gentleman crooned softly in a corner, providing an entertaining soundtrack to a pleasant evening. Sadly he was nowhere to be seen on this occasion, but the inviting atmosphere was more than conducive to relaxed conversation.

And what of the food itself, the star of the show? The menu boasts a selection of fine French cuisine, the loin of venison and Breton fish stew particularly tempting. On this occasion, the inducement to order from the grill was overwhelming, and the Angus burger, Gruyère & Alsace bacon with a side of fries was picked by me. My companion ordered the Barbary duck confit, but was in for a surprise when his food was served. A selection of rustic bread was placed on our table as we waited.

The wine which supplemented the meal did not only provide a counterpart to the food, but considerably enhanced the dining experience

Perhaps surprisingly given the horrendous conditions, the fact that it was a Monday evening and the austerity which greets many at the start of a new year, the restaurant was a good two-thirds full which owes much to the quality cuisine which was on offer. Conceivably, this also contributed to the slightly disappointing service, with our meals taking longer than would be expected given what had been ordered. Indeed, when the food did arrive, it appeared the waiter had his signals crossed, the pork and duck cassoulet being served instead.

Nevertheless, the food looked appealing enough and not being one to complain, Cormac tucked in with gusto. Likewise, my burger was more than capable of providing salvation for the slow service and it only took a matter of minutes before two empty plates stared forlornly at us both.

The food itself was tasty, filling, and for the price, very good value. The burger in particular was cooked to perfection, and the fries a light but tasty accompaniment. The cassoulet was deep and rich, and echoed the warm and comforting nature of the restaurant itself. The wine which supplemented the meal did not only provide a counterpart to the food, but considerably enhanced the dining experience. Whilst the service was a touch below what might be expected, it didn’t really matter much and we were made to feel more than welcome.

Brasserie Vacherin is a fine restaurant, a welcoming and high class departure from the typical array of (albeit excellent) Indian and Italian restaurants which are prevalent in our home town. I would certainly recommend it to all for any occasion, rain or shine.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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