2012 Review: A Spitalfields venture that’s “let down massively” by its “cavernous” quarters – “it’s just wrong to put a serious French brasserie in a soulless modern unit”; “hit-and-miss” cooking and “chaotic” service do the place no favours either, but “exceptional cheese” and a huge wine list offer some compensation.
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Our quest for a proper Gallic brasserie in London goes on. In fact, this new attempt at the genre – of which we had such high hopes – is potentially a real turkey.
First it has a disastrous...
Press Reviews (5)
Fay Maschler (20th August 2009)
The critic visits the Spitalfields offshoot of Le Bouchon Bordelais to sample the grouse from their “Fête de la Chasse” (game festival). The menu is “a faithful summary of brasserie classics”, the “wine menu is “splendid” (if “exuberantly priced”), and the grouse itself “had been cooked to the right point”. She concludes that the establishment “does what it sets out to do with an admirable thoroughness” but advises going with friends as, on an evening visit, there is “only a sprinkling of customers” and the surroundings – “a sea of empty market stalls” and “almost every chain restaurant known to man” – could “produce ennui.”
Erica Wagner (9th March 2009)
“Yes, it was a Wednesday evening, but there was a sense of foreboding about the emptiness of the place”, when the critic visited this Shoreditch brasserie. Her meal is very up and down, but problems were dealt with well. Even so, she concludes she probably wouldn’t go back.
Matthew Norman (17th November 2008)
The critic finds two faults with this Spitalfields newcomer: it is “slightly but discernibly overpriced (by some 20% no less), and it sits on what strikes the naked eye as an archetypal graveyard site”. Which is a shame, as at “another spot at another time, Le Bouchon Breton might well be a smash.”, not least thanks to food that’s “as outstanding as you'd expect from a former head chef at Le Gavroche”.
Marina O'Loughlin (12th November 2008)
As the critic so correctly notes, Smithfield newcomer Le Bouchon Breton is nothing of the sort, but she finds the staff exude a lot of ‘chaleur’ – for Metro’s non-francophone readers, that would be warmth – nonetheless. And “on a sunny day with the market in full swing, this will be a brilliant place to be”. “On a miserable evening, however, looking on to the skeletons of unused [market] stalls, it conveys little other than a sense of melancholy.”
Terry Durack (27th October 2008)
A “vast” venue with “mock-époque flourises” on “a charmless mezzanine floor of what appears to be a deserted aircraft hangar when the market is not in full swing”. Fortunately Terry visits when it’s “busy” (even if the bar is “too Brits-abroad loud”) and particularly likes the “honest” attitude of the manager, François Bertrand. Befitting a Breton place, “the seafood proves a better bet” than the meat, with highpoints being the “brilliantly briny-fresh” oysters and “plump Breton mussels cooked just to the point of the shells opening” (outshining a “dry and boring choucroute” and “harsh” pâté de campagne). Tarte tatin to finish, though, is “so bloody good”. Summary: “the wine is too expensive …stick to shellfish, simple grills … or just ask the manager what is special”.