Friday 30 September 2011

Shampers, Kingly Street, central London

Although it sounds like it might be a tacky night club, Shampers is a fairly-tasteful French bistro and wine bar. Its decor is pretty dated, but the walls are covered in an eyecatching array of modern art, such as a very striking yellow and blue painting of a lido. The a la carte menu is supplemented by a good selection of specials. While you are waiting for your food, you can tuck into the warm bread. Starters (priced at about six pounds) might include butternut squash soup, Serrano ham or herrings. The latter is served with a very tangy salsa, which overwhelms the fish.  For red meat lovers, there is an appealing choice of mains (priced from about £11), such as lamb kidneys, chorizo cassoulet or venison steak. Served with a big dollop of creamy mash and spinach, the venison (about £15) arrives in juicy pellets. As you would expect, the very long wine list, organised by country, leans towards France, but there are also plenty of New World and Spanish options, starting at about £16 a bottle. If you don't want to spend a lot, the Malbec Coleccion Torino (£18 a bottle) from Argentina, which has a hint of prunes, is very drinkable and goes well with the meaty main courses. Beware, the kitchen closes around 11, after which there will be a very limited choice of deserts. Service (12.5% charge) by the young, somewhat melancholic, waitresses, can be a little sluggish. 7/10