“Frenchie is that thing I’d almost given up hoping I would see again: a really, really good modern French bistro. Not nostalgic or revisionist, but a sensible, sophisticated and relaxed, accomplished and confident place that neither denies its origins nor is in hoc to them.”
After a disastrous trip to review a poshed-up street food spot in which he fell asleep waiting for his food, Giles Coren finds a rather more civilised dining experience at Fitzrovia’s new Dickie Fitz…
“The lovely high-ceilinged room has been what they used to call “feminised” but which we would probably now call “lightened”. The dark paintwork has gone to white, the banquettes and chairs and incredibly comfortable bar stools (with arms and backs!) are upholstered in pale yellow leather (“So modern it makes me want to squeal,” said Esther), the bar staff have been kitted out in unthreatening little yellow bow ties.”
“It’s a clever menu that makes you want to order everything on it. It’s an even cleverer one that somehow compels you to order a hot dog while you’re deciding. And it’s a work of brilliance when everything you order from said menu turns out to be just as you’d hoped it would be…
“And that hot dog? Princely: fat, juicy, smoky, its skin snapping to the bite under a wrapping of crisp bacon, its perfectly sized roll a cushiony brioche groaning with grated comté cheese and creamy remoulade. I could get used to this kind of thing as an amuse-bouche if it weren’t for fear of my arse taking over Britain.”
“The far more important false premise is the notion there is an inherent virtue in these wild foods. For a start if the idea behind Native is such a good one, presumably all restaurants ought to be sourcing ingredients this way. In which case the impact on the ecosystem would be disastrous. The landscape would be overrun by sweaty types in cable-knit sweaters wrestling each other for the last clump of wild garlic. Already cack-handed foragers are doing damage to Britain’s woodlands in pursuit of mushrooms. Imagine what would happen if that was scaled up.
“I love how the chain veers away from plain old Americana, offering tamarind glazes, scatterings of smoked peanut, sobrasada chilli relish, jalapeño butter sauces and sides of brisket tots served with peri peri sauce. One could eat at Patty & Bun a dozen times and â€” before being removed from one’s house by a jumbo ambulance â€” wouldn’t need to eat the same meal twice.”