There was a time when Wandsworth offered precious little as a destination. Thanks largely to a certain Mr. Ramsay, it has undergone something of a transformation. While Gordan Ramsay may have decided to open his new restaurant one mile east in Battersea, his famed residence in the area has led to many of its previously under-appreciated restaurants receiving some overdue attention. Doukan was championed on The F Word in 2011 and has been making assured strides forward ever since.
The most recent addition their armoury is a Sunday Brunch Menu. It was on an exceptionally blustery Sunday that we battled down to give it a try. There are few compliments that you can give a restaurant that carry more weight than simply, ‘we didn’t want to leave.’ And leave we didn’t. We stayed for over four hours. This is in part testament to the abnormal wind forces we’ve been suffering all winter long, but more so to the atmosphere that Doukan exudes.
Brunch, as far as I understand it, is a meal which, more than any other encourages the abandonment of time. Doukan has pitched this menu with absolute aplomb. The menu comes in the form of a buffet, which is alluringly visible through the restaurant’s front windows. The buffet starts around noon. But there’s little fanfare. Our server said they would inform us when it was open and we happily enjoyed their fine selection of fresh fruit juices and smoothies while we waited. It would be unwise to pass on any one of the selections at the buffet so what follows is an exercise in food Jenga. The centrepiece of the meal is Moroccan Lamb that must have been cooked all week to achieve such a level of tenderness. Much of the other offerings are served cold and, as such, can be eaten at a truly pedestrian pace.
It is said that the owner and head chef, Abdesslem Khalil, personally greets every table. Due to our extended stay, we were granted more than one visitation, three to be precise. He couldn’t have been happier to see us lounging in his back room long into the afternoon. Brunch has developed an oddly rigid aesthetic over the years. For all those who have been queued through the morning for a table at Breakfast Club only to be hosteled off an hour later, it is about time someone came along to remind us of our brunching roots. It is simply a long, carefree meal for those too lazy to wake for breakfast, and too hungry to wait for lunch.