There's only one French establishment in London that gives me the warm and fuzzies, like when I enter my favorite Parisian boltholes, and it's Racine. The interior's a bit dark and sort of intimidating, but I think they keep it that way to scare off the tourists, who often darken their door looking for a place to rest their tired feet and have a good meal (without a booking). As a result, this is more a regular haunt for the Kensington and Chelsea crowd. End result: brilliant people watching.
The menu doesn't change much throughout the season, but that's ok, because their standard menu is very solid. The calf's brains, mousse with mussels, the veal chop, and cheese option for dessert are all top notch. The wine list is what you'd expect from a French restaurant, comprehensive and well stocked with big labels and hefty price tags, as well as the more obscure labels from regions across France for those of us with more shallow pockets.
Do make that reservation, though. It gets really busy by 8 most nights of the week.
Also note, given its locale, dinner for two, including apps, entrees, dessert, and a decent bottle will set you back about £200. Worth. every. penny.
If you are not a frequent patron of this restaurant, avoid it like the plague!
Racine's food is good (not great) and not overpriced, and the 100 British Pound wine we ordered was very tasty. However, nothing could offset the terrible and rather callous treatment we received there.
Caring hospitality is definitely lacking at Racine Restaurant unless perhaps you are a regular patron.
When we booked for an early 18:30 dinner for four, the hostess was definitely not very friendly, plus she bluntly insisted that we agree to a 20:00 departure with "no exceptions". We were surprised at that requirement but agreed believing one and one half hours was sufficient for a casual dinner. Upon entering the almost vacant restaurant, we were shown to an unpleasant table squeezed into a busy hallway connecting to the kitchen. We asked to be seated at one of the empty tables within the main room, but the hostess flatly refused doing so in an unfriendly manner.
Most of the tables in the main room remained empty throughout the course of our dinner. Some were even vacant when we departed, however we then realized all the desirable tables were being saved for their local customers. Tourists be damned evidently is the Racine Restaurant's policy.
As to our departing at the required 20:00 that was made impossible by very long delays in both the ordering and delivery of our food whilst we sat at a table with waiters scurrying to and from the kitchen and the adjacent service area. Even worse, I was painfully struck in the elbow (and left with a bad bruise) by a flying food tray caused by a collision in the congested narrow hallway. No effort was made to make amends beyond a perfunctory "so sorry". We did not linger and were able to depart at about 20:15.
I took the time to briefly complain about our poor experiences to the owner-chef. He affected a pleasant demeanor but clearly did not really give whit about any of my comments whatsoever.
Bottom line: Racine Restaurant does not provide a fine dining experience to new guests, maybe it does not provide it to anyone.
I went hear after a visit to the museums, to take onboard some sustenance and take the weight off the feet after the walking that I had one.
Apart from the gold clad exterior, it has a really nice feel to it with dark leather seating, mirrored walls and it also felt smart and tidy. I guess for me elegant whilst understated would sum it up for me. The Brompton road is a mixture of shops and restaurants and you have a varied choice. I have a feeling though that some will be better than others. If we went on the look of the exterior, I wouldn't have gone in the exterior for me local cheap and tacky. Step inside though and is all changes.
On my visit it was not busy and I was served well and efficiently, I wonder if they would be busy in the evenings and still continue to offer such good service ? Maybe I will go back and see how they cope - The food and service this time around was certainly good enough to warrant it.
Food is typically French and is better than most and couldn't be faulted. I had an enjoyable meal for what it was a lunchtime meal.
I've been trying to go here a few times and after a failed attempt the day before I finally managed to. I feel I have really been missing out. As others have been saying the value for money is excellent. If you go for the set menu (2 courses for £18 and 3 courses for £20, as of 2011-01-22).
I had a fantastic two course lunch at Racine, there was not a thing to complain about. Well, one, mentioned below. Attentive and friendly service happy to help and knowing when to step in and when to stay away. The food was excellent and the interior very classy and, to me, very French.
I opted for two courses since I actually couldn't fit any more. A very good sign.
For the starter I had the best onion soup I have ever had. A white onion velouté with thyme chantilly. I was considering licking the bowl afterwards, but I could see the waiter eyeing me and thought better of it. Everything was balanced just right and the flavour was fantastic.
I thought this might be hard to follow and thought that if the main isn't good then after the wonderful starter I could still walk away happy. I was not let down, the main was as wonderful as the starter. Lamb with roasted beans was creamy and rich in flavour. It didn't look like that much but was properly filling. The only letdown was the new potatoes ordered as a side. For the price I expected more than 4 potatoes.
As soon as I walked out the door I already started planning my next visit.
I went to Racine with a friend, and we both LOVED our steak with pepper sauce. I really love pepper, so for me it was perfect. Price-wise, it is expensive, but it's not too overpriced and I felt it was worth it. I wouldn't say it's amazing, but if you're in the mood for a good peppery steak and you want to eat somewhere nice, this is the place! Next time I'm in the mood, I might revisit this place.
Deciding we needed a decent lunch to see out the old year Mr Sudra dragged me and a couple of the ladies to Racine for a bit of French cuisine last Thursday.
Situated on the bustling Brompton Road Racine is a nicely decorated, fairly subdued room with a bit more space out the back. There is plenty of crisp white linen and brown leather on show with well-spaced tables and simple place settings. The many staff are smartly turned out, very welcoming and helpful.
It being the holiday period we were probably the only working suits in the place and our fellow diners did me the great favour of making me feel like a teenager; it's the kind of place were even the young folk like to dress like their fathers and grandfathers.
We had the choice of a couple of decent tables and once seated we got some tap water and bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine deLa Prade, 2009 while we had a look at the menu. After much debate we decided to all go for the regularly changing set lunch, perhaps the result of the previous 5 days of Christmas feasting, which is a pretty good deal at £17.50 for 3 courses.
I started off with a lovely creamy cauliflower veloute which came with a dollop of very flavoursome tapenade, just the thing for a chilly day in late December. We decided a second bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc was required and I then moved onto a fine piece of smoked haddock which was sitting on top of a bed of perfectly prepared baby leeks with a little scotch hens egg on the side; beautifully presented and a real pleasure to eat. Lindsay had the salt beef which was very rare and full of flavour.
We all finished with a lemon posset which came with a tiny shortbread finger. Rich yet quite zesty, it was a good end to a fine lunch. A quick espresso and we wandered out into the fading light more than happy with the way 2010 was drawing to a close.
I have never quite understood the minimalist approach to restaurant menus, whereby dishes deliciously and intricately prepared are described perfunctorily as a brief list of a couple of its main ingredients. So often, I'd see amazing dishes come out and wished I'd not been put off ordering them by their descriptions like: "Egg and cheese", or "chicken with carrot"...
Racine's menu descriptions are also quite brief. There is, however, just enough information to allow you to choose well, but hold back enough to wow you when you are presented with the chef's efforts.
We had pan-fried foie gras which was served on a thin, crispy and quite delicious 'pain d'epice' with a sweet cranberry sauce/marmalade. Quite the best hot foie gras I've had recently. Sweet sauces are often paired with foie gras to counter the richness of the liver, but too usually end up being just something sweet next to the foie gras, whereas the tiny cooked cranberries married remarkably well. There was also calf's brain, fried crisp in black butter with salted capers. I thought the dish too salty & the small pieces too crispy- perhaps done so to make the texture more approachable? Galvin Bistrot's version is much better, where they serve a whole piece, crisp on the outside and soft and tender inside. Main courses were veal chop with an astonishingly good blue cheese butter, cooked perfectly pink and juicy, and a roast partridge served with Savoy cabbage. The cooking of the meats was excellently judged as previous visits were, in terms of doneness.
The service can't be accused of being warm, we were greeted without any hint of a smile, but they were efficiently professional. The food was served hot, drinks were topped up at appropriate intervals, there were no long waits for anything and you can easily catch the waitstaff's attention when needed. The thing I appreciated most was how they seated guests at the furthest point away from other guests as the room filled, thereby affording the least amount of conversational intrusion possible.
Racine certainly isn't a destination restaurant, there's never been much hype that I've been aware of, and the food style is quite traditional, free from foams, pureed smears and nitrogen chilling...but they do serve some of the most well cooked French food I've come across in the UK.
Henry Harris is back as Chef Patron at Racine after a shortish stint as Executive Chef of the Soho House Group. I have eaten Henry's fine Bourgeois cooking for more years than I care to count going back to Hilare, Bibendum and 5h Floor at Harvey Nicholls.
It turns out that Henry also knows and worked with one of my best friends from University at The Old Ship in Brighton many moons ago. Strangely all this became apparent when Henry and I engaged on Twitter in a discussion on La Meranda in Nice that also involved restaurateur Charlie McVeigh and food critic/writer Daniel Young.
Racine reminds me of several Paris restaurants that falls into the category of Bistros/Brasseries * with a delightful room that has a wood floor, brown leather banquettes with mirrors above them and pale yellow walls.
Racine though is really about the food and as you can imagine when the Chef Patron has spent his formative years working with Simon Hopkinson you are most likely to be guaranteed well executed classic Bourgeois cooking.
John, Henry's old colleague from Brighton and I had an exemplary lunch on Friday, July 3rd 2009. The food and service was really top notch and as it turns out it was Henry's last service before a well-earned holiday.
We were greeted by Henry who gave us some of his own home made delightful cured middle white proscuito .
I strated with Smoked duck, French bean and girolle salad which was really very good indeed. The beans were perfectly cooked al dente and the duck was succulent with the delightful small girolles complimenting the ensemble of ingredients.
John was delighted with his Lincolnshire smoked eel, salmon roe, watercress and horseradish salad.
To follow I had Filet au poivre made with a lovely piece of well hung Filet served with hand cut chips and simple mixed leaf salad. The sauce presumably made with a veal stock reduction was really delicious and worked well with the tenderest but not necessarily the most flavorful cut of beef.
John said his Breast of guinea fowl, peas, broad beans and tarragon was really outstanding.
We drank a half bottle of Gewurztraminer, Cote de Rouffach, Rene Mure followed by a chilled Brouilly, Chateau de la Perriere as well as several Marc's de Bourgogne with our espressos; we were really too full to be tempted by the classic deserts or the fine cheeses from La Fromagerie.
Racine is a delightful restaurant with excellent service providing very good and well executed Bourgeois cooking based on well selected ingredients from top suppliers. To paraphrase the by line of Benoît in Paris "Chez toi Racine, on boit, festoie, en rois
Update Summer of 2009
Henry started to source amazing Cote de Boeuf from osheasbutchers.com O'Shea's of Knightsbridge these Irish Black Angus Grass Fed , Barley Finished 44 day + aged Ribeyes on the Bone are in my humble opinion simply the best steak you can have in the UK !
Video link: youtube.com/watch?v=ArDO…
For photos see Greedy Diva @ greedydiva.blogspot.com/…
Not only is Racine terrific, but its set price lunch and dinner menu is a bargain at £15 for 2 courses or £17.50 for 3 courses. And, it feels exactly like being in Paris. What more do you need to hear?
In a lovely, busy little room with brown leather banquettes, mirrored walls and wooden floors, we eat classic Bourgeois French cooking as we watch the street crowds pass in droves on their way to Harrods. I know where I'd rather be.
Chef Henry Harris trained with Simon Hopkinson before setting up his "neighbourhood restaurant", Racine, where he has developed his traditional and robust style, with top quality cooking and ingredients at affordable prices. It's taken me too long to make it to Racine, but it may swiftly become a new favourite.
From the set price menu we enjoy a silky salad of duck confit in a mountainous, peppery jumble of mixed salad leaves, as well as a simple, salty creamed smoked cod's roe on toast with soft boiled egg and pickled cucumber.
While the fillet of mullet, flageolete and fennel salad sounds appetising, we've heard good things about the steak at Racine (its famed Cote de Boeuf for 2 is sourced from O'Sheas) so we can't go past the onglet a l'echallot which is succulent and pungent with caramelised onions, creamy mash and a rich, beefy jus.
The creme caramel ice-cream is ok, but I still can't believe I didn't take up the option for the Pouligny Fermier (a firm, crumbly goat's cheese, carrying no supplement on the prix fixe menu).
Service is excellent, and the wine list extensive. There's really nothing else to say. If it's a short rendez-vous with good French cooking you're after, Racine is the ticket.
went to racine on an evening out in london.the welcome was friendly on a busy thursday night at around 8 o-clock ,our table was not quite ready but that was no problem,we waited 5 minutes and we were in.the service was prompt for drinks and once we had made our choices from the classic french menu i was ready to eat. the starters were great and my main course of grouse was perfectly cooked and very tasty.dessert was a bit of a let down, but the cheese on the other hand was excellent.
service was good throughout .the bill was a little high but worth it for a really nice expierence in a resaurant i would definatly go back to.
Overpriced, overcharged and underserved. If you are STARVING and can't walk 2 blocks in either directions, certainly stop and take the Duck Confit (nice crispy skin) but beyond that, Meh.
Classical French restaurant with a calm interior and smart atmosphere. Henry Harris offers a variety of gastronomic delights (such as the delicious smoked duck salad) that can be appriciated with some champagne or very good french wines.
We came for lunch one day then dinner the next evening. We had fowl and ham at lunch which was great. For dinner I had lamb and she had rabbit.
At a Racine's a few years back when we were staying the area. I don't remember quite what we had, but we had a great meal and would go back.
Very nice, traditional French restaurant in South Kensington opposite the Brompton Oratory. The food is delicious, in a traditional Paris bistro kinda vein, and the decoration has a flavor of Art Nouveau, giving the place a semi-authentic Parisian feel. The food is well-prepared and, while hardly at budget prices, is not too expensive. The restaurant also occasionally has special deals for diners so it's worth looking out for those. All in all, strongly recommended as a place for dinner in South Kensington!
Went there in late September as a guest of one of our vendors and tried the tete de veau. Needed a sherpa to navigate the roadworks on Brompton Road to get from the taxi to the front door in the first place. Our vendor was raving about the place after eating there with his wife at the weekend a few weeks earlier. All I can say is that there must be different chef at the weekend.. The tete de veau was definitely the worst meal at any restaurant anywhere in the world that I have ever experienced. I'd say eaten instead of experienced, but I couldn't eat it after the first couple of bites. The most insipid, tasteless meal I have ever experienced replete with soggy potatoes floating in a bland watery mess on the bottom of the plate - there would have been more flavour if I'd eaten the dishcloth. Forget the main course and order two appetisers, at least they were edible!
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