Blanchette
REVIEWS, February 3, 2014
Overall Value
3
out of 5
Food 
Service 
Ambience 
3
£56
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience

Handily sited in Soho, a small but jolly Gallic-run bistro, offering tasty dishes of high quality’ but on a small-plate scale, with prices to match.

Small plates and good Gallic cooking: does that combination make this new Soho bistro of note? More than you’d think – it’s a combination you don’t find very often.

First, small plates. Fashionable Londoners may ‘see it everywhere’, but the small-plate vogue is pretty recent, and still mainly found either at ‘fine dining’ restaurants, or where the style is already a feature of an established national cuisine – such as tapas, dim sum, and sushi. Even the Terroirs ‘group’ – the best-known name in ‘Gallic small plates’ – mainly confines its daintier offerings to charcuterie, terrines and so on, rather than actual complete dishes.

And good Gallic cooking? Leaving out the many new brasseries that are more about looks than food, London’s mid-range French offering remains remarkably thin. Just look at the excitement surrounding Otto’s in Bloomsbury – ‘just’ a really nice bourgeois restaurant’ of the sort there are vanishingly few examples across the capital.

So, perhaps this warm and friendly small-Gallic-plates bistro, in a short Soho street, is more revolutionary than its jolly and (calculatedly) rough-hewn appearance might suggest.

Our foodie friend was impressed by her grilled gurnard with brown butter, capers, lemon and braised lettuce, for example, and our braised lamb shoulder with anchovy, rosemary and soubise sauce was very good too. Note that these are what the French call plats complets, just on a small scale.

We can’t really think of many other places in the West End that offer this winning formula – ideal for a quick meal before the theatre, or catching up with a friend. Even the smallest dishes – perhaps leeks vinaigrette with frisée and wild mushroom come with a bit more invention than you typically find for a fiver.

What more can we say? We’ll be back.

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