Restaurants: Where shall we eat American?

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The Independent Culture
FUNNY HOW the wealthiest country in the world has never managed to popularise its indigenous cuisine beyond the fried meat level. And a shame, too, for them, because spreading an appreciation of your gustatory joys is one of the easiest bits of global PR. Sushi and noodle bars have done more for Japanese global standing than electronic gizmos, and for a while there, pretty much the only nice thing people could say about the Iranians was that they knew a thing or two about cooking with fruit.

Blues Bistro and Bar has been flogging Americana to Soho for four years, and doing it with grace and value: dinner here is about pounds 23 a head, and the two-course lunch menu represents serious value at pounds 10 for two courses. This is a spare, gently lit space with a pleasantly mixed clientele and, fortunately, a few aspects of Americana quietly dropped. No-one told us their first name or bombarded us with a list of specials, and portions, while erring toward the generous, weren't actually overwhelming. Odd, though, that a place that sells itself on its provenance should have only two American wines on a list of 50, and that we had to pick through all sorts of confit of duck on puy lentils and fusilli with spinach, roquefort, bayonne ham and shaved parmesan before we found dishes that we would have judged indigenously American.

What we found, though, was good: a Caesar salad was generously packed with bits, and a Manhattan clam chowder - the clear version of the New England classic - was yummy. Maryland Chicken was extremely well executed, and Claire seemed delighted with her Maryland crabcakes. Completely stuffed, we were unable to do justice to a more authentically American pudding menu - pecan and butterscotch tart, mango and lime cheesecake and blueberry mousse all had to go by the board. The Cinnamon and apple cream brulee we shared, though, was top notch.

Blues Bistro and Bar,

42/43 Dean St, London W1

(0171-494 1966)

US HOT SPOTS

Joe Allen (grills to the stars) 13 Exeter St,WC2 (0171-836 0651)

Christopher's (grills and seafoods) 18 Wellington St, WC2 (0171-244 4222)

Boardwalk (mild Cajun) 18 Greek St, W1 (0171-287 2051)

Dakota (Trustafarian Southern) 127 Ledbury Rd, W11 (0171-792 9191)

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