Just off Trafalgar Square, a pleasantly simple Gallic bistro of a type that’s all too rare in London; owned by a wine merchant, it also offers a good choice of wines by the carafe and glass; a basement restaurant is scheduled to open in early-2009.

Find a re-emerging central restaurant location (Covent Garden), and locate premises not too far from an already successful basement wine bar (Bedford & Strand). Use as basis for a good basic food ‘offer’, in the no-nonsense style that’s very quickly made a big name for the Giaconda Dining Room. Add a quality wine proposition closely modelled on that of Arbutus. Garnish with a soupçon of Gallic joie de vivre. Et voilà. That, in short, is the recipe for this new bistro.

Basic, accessibly-priced non-ethnic (which is to say European) bistros of quality are still fantastically rare in London, and we are conscious that, in consequence, they sometimes attract a rather OTT critical reception. With this in mind, however, we’d have to say this is a pretty good place. Too many restaurants in recent years have tended to value décor and ‘concept’ over food, and it’s always good to find somewhere that’s got its priorities right.

That’s not to say that everything here is perfect. This is not in our view any sort of destination for a blow out. We’d suggest it more for a savoury dish – perhaps an exemplary boudin noir with fried eggs, or a generous duck pie with flaky pastry – and a glass, or carafe, of vino. The place is owned by a wine merchant, and the list is impressive, and good-value. In comparison to the virtues on the savoury and wine front, puddings can be a distinct let-down.

Let’s hope they get realisation more consistent across the board before they open up the fully-fledged basement restaurant, scheduled for the early days of the New Year.

Recent News from Harden's

Share this article: