Monday, 16 April 2012

Bistrot Bruno Loubet Clerkenwell review - a small gesture goes a long way


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Address: St John Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London EC1M 5RJ
Tel: 020 7324 4444
Nearest Tube station: Farringdon / Barbican

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £35 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: *****
Service: *****
Ambience: ****
It's not often when you have a restaurant's waiter calling out to you and gesturing wildly from across the street. Well, probably when you have walked out without paying for your meal but certainly not when you are tossing your little one around with her chuckling wildly at each toss.

"Your food is here, sir!" I could barely make out his words. I gave him a thumbs up and hoist LO up, half trotting back into Bistrot Bruno Loubet. "Did you see me waving to you," Wife asked. No, I didn't but the waiter might have.

The remnants of the snails starter has long been cleared and Wife was nearly done with her roast beef. We love snails, those that come on a platter that is. Contrary to the belief, not all French people like them. P, the Frenchman screwed his face up when I asked him about it. "Those are for tourists," he declared, "besides, they are too squishy for my liking."

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We used to go to Sacre de Coeur at Therberton Road to get our escargot fix. After awhile, the snails served there got smaller and tougher, we gave up going there altogether. Suffice to say, Bistrot Bruno Loubet's Mauricette snails and meatballs, royale de champignons (£8.50) comes up tops. Instead of the overpowering garlicky smell, this one comes with meatballs. Odd, you might think but the minced meat's soft texture went hand in hand with the snails' slight rubbery bite. The sauce? Heavenly.

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Instead of going for the mains on Bistrot Bruno Loubet's ala carte menu, we went for its Sunday roasts (£15.50) instead. The waiter who served us was raving about it. We can see why when they were served. Instead of dry lean oily fare drenched in watery gravy, Bistrot Bruno Loubet's Sunday roasts was juicy and actually looks inviting. I wouldn't be surprised if there roasts came out from a sous vide water oven in the kitchen. After first seeing it on Heston Blumenthal's show, this is exactly what I would imagine the meat to taste like.

"Here's some mint sauce for the lamb and horseradish sauce for the beef," the waiter quipped as he laid both on the table. If the roast lamb was good, the mint sauce made it absolutely wonderful. It wasn't the thin mint, vinegar and sugar mixture. Instead, it came with chopped bits of cucumber. There was no yogurt involved either. The result was a clear, crunchy mix with a burst of freshness.

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I asked the waiter for the recipe. He obligingly rattled it off and assured me that I can find it online. Well, I wasn't able to (but please let me know if you can). To add icing to the cake, he came back later with a big cup of mint sauce. "For you to take away," he handed it to me with a wide grin.

"We have to come back again, the snails alone is worth a visit," Wife said as we walked out of the restaurant after the meal. That goes without saying.


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