The 10 Cases is situated a comfortable distance from the mania of Covent Garden’s central piazza, tucked between the clothing stores on Endell Street. A self-proclaimed “bistrot à vin”, the restaurant is small, inviting and wine-orientated.
As my dining partner and I entered, we were greeted enthusiastically by a member of staff who seated us quickly. There, synopses of the different courses available quirkily line the walls on chalk boards. The speciality wine list sits centre stage on either side of the chimney breast; entries scrawled down in fat marker onto paper sheets stretching from ceiling to floor.
Choosing the wine was not hard. As I scanned the walls, I was instantly drawn to the 2008 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste and could hardly believe it was available in this tiny brasserie. Not only that, it was more than fairly priced, especially for a central London location. A bottle was ordered accordingly. (In passing, credit to the restaurant for their treatment of the wine bottles: all reds kept at 18 degrees and whites at 14).
The 10 Cases is tapping into a burgeoning, experimental wine scene
Kitsch in its presentation, the menu that evening offered up a good variety of dishes, including Iberico croquettes which I chose to start. I was not entirely sure how intriguing a croquette could be – but I was not disappointed. Golden brown and crunchy, the trio of croquettes arrived at the table under a drizzle of tomato and chilli reduction. They bore an intense blend of pork and gooey cheese with a hint of acidity from the sauce. My counterpart had chosen equally well with the battered crab and crushed avocado, which was also deftly prepared.
We were nattering and sipping happily when a pair of eager customers bustled in, twisting haplessly with their rucksacks like hipster Chuckle brothers. I must take a moment to compliment the staff on their expert crowd control. As mentioned, Friday evenings in Covent Garden can be akin to the 8am commute. The staff politely but firmly asked the newcomers to disperse, suggesting not just front of house acumen but also a dedication to seated customers’ enjoyment. How refreshing this was to behold in an area largely known for venues profiting ruthlessly from the throngs of revellers.
Impressed by the professional handling of the situation, the two of us continued our meal with the arrival of our mains: both rib eye steaks. Cooked and seasoned with finesse, the steaks were melt in the mouth and the accompanying chips were as they should be. The Pauillac served only to enhance an already very pleasurable meal. By this stage, the authenticity of the restaurant was really coming through. This was Covent Garden, but not as we knew it. It impressed in virtually all respects. Even the minimalistic environment – a chessboard decorative scheme and occasional wall lights – was pleasing to the senses.
Much like Noble Rot, 28-50 Mayfair and Blandford Comptoir, The 10 Cases is tapping into a burgeoning, experimental wine scene by offering rare and fine bottles on a rotation system. More: The 10 Cases confers a truly refreshing experience with its unpretentious dining room and a somewhat personal touch vis-à-vis service – the latter being difficult to come by amidst the commercial aggression of London’s tourist district. Let’s hope the trend continues.
The 10 Cases
16 Endell Street
by C Ley