I’m not going to pretend I had heard of Bruno Loubet before he opened his restaurant in London and I am Australian where he has been hiding out for the last eight years. I’m also pretty sure that lots of the reviews referring to the “famous chef Bruno Loubet” can’t remember him cooking in London either. Anyway, Bruno is back along with his particular style of French bistro style cooking. I decided to go and check what the fuss was about with Krista and Alice.
Bistro Bruno Loubet opened at the start of this year in what was a fairly soulless and lacklustre hotel dining room attached to the Zetter. All of a sudden, with the inclusion of some comfortable looking sofas in a corner, a few vintage looking lamps and a jumble of wooden bistro tables and chairs, the place feels warm and buzzy.
Bread is baked in flower pots, a bit of an affectation but good bread
We got off to a bad start with the restaurant informing us when we confirmed the booking that our 7pm table had to be vacated by 9pm, something that there was no mention of when the original booking was made. I do hate being table turned. Other than this hitch, service was amiable and proficient, our waitress in particular was friendly and helpful with our menu queries.
“Revised” Lyonnaise salad
The menu features lots of French bistro classics with a twist, like the “revised” Lyonnaise salad (£7) which included deep fried pressed pigs ears and trotters alongside the standard fricasse lettuce leaves, crispy bacon bits and soft boiled egg. It was a meal in itself really and I was delighted with the added piggy products. Boudin blanc (£7) was a fat, generous sausage made with guinea fowl and sitting on a leek sauce. The sausage was almost fluffy in texture and incredibly rich. For me, it was just too rich and the texture was all a little too much blancmange but Alice loved it. Pea soup (£6.50) was vibrant and a perfect spring dish.
From the mains, the wood pigeon (£15.50) was a stonking dish. Two almost rare pigeon breasts sat on a bead of quinoa and thinly sliced cauliflower. The delicately flavoured accompaniments let the earthiness of the pigeon shine and this was one of the best dishes I have had all year. Not so impressive was the lamb shoulder (£16) which bizarrely came served as a huge, round ball of lamb. There was far too much lamb there and it also suffered from being too dry.
The rich, French food left us all too full for dessert which must be some sort of record, instead we had our dessert in liquid form with a glass of dessert wine to finish off which had a lovely honey flavour. This followed on from a bottle of the Bandol rosé (£37) over dinner which was crisp and not too cloying.
We didn’t have a seamless experience at Bistro Bruno Loubet with our rocky start and a few hits and misses on the food front. That said, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and some of the dishes were real stunners. The reasonable pricing was also a welcome surprise. Welcome back Bruno, even though I hadn’t realised you were gone in the first place.
Details: 86 -88 Clerkenwell road, Clerkenwell EC1M 5RJ (Ph 020 7324 4455) Tube: Farringdon