FRENCHIE, COVENT GARDEN
8th September 2016
One of the more interesting central-London openings, Frenchie strikes it's chord somewhere between high-brow Alain and The Ivy cafe. We booked into this chic French restaurant in Covent Garden for a midweek lunch.
Set menus, particularly at lunch, can result in an oversupply of food on the table. Especially when you throw in a few bits and pieces that cannot be described as sides because they are at the top of the menu rather than the bottom. There are no category name anywhere on said menu, and they're all too large to be considered hors d'oeuvres. What are they? Appetite-spoilers? Snackeroos? We'll just have to order them all to find out.
Whatever you want to call them, the bacon scones are incroyable. Sweet, breakfasty, shot through with bacon chunks, and served with a salty butter. They're 50% of the reason why Frenchie has some import outside of Fashion Week. Nothing else really set us on fire, but I'll tell you all about it anyway.
The Clarence Court egg mimosa delivered on its promise of a herby, creamy and airy filling, whereas the tempura was oily, flavourless, limpid and entirely out of place on the menu.
In a fairly rushed fashion, appetisers followed. We had booked a 2.15pm table, unaware that the kitchen closes at 2.30pm. Frenchie, take note. Either inform your customers at the time of booking, or accommodate them when they arrive. We had a fairly unsympathetic waitress who was more supportive of the kitchen close time than of our need to eat warm food. This could have been a wine-soaked, leisurely afternoon, but it was instead quite pressurised.
Burrata salad with balsamic, basil and delicious, succulent peaches cheered us up. The portions are generous. We ordered two between four and couldn't finish them.
We also ordered two sweetcorn purées which went unfinished. I was the only fan of this foamy melody of egg, eel and sweetcorn, probably the most complex dish on the lunch menu.
More unfinishable dishes arrived. The rabbit ragu is zesty and summery, reminiscent of the countryside and perfumed with aniseed. The lighter touch is nice for a summer lunch, but it robbed the rabbit of its richness. It was nice for a change, but I prefer a tomato base.
Then came the fish, Cornish pollock, cooked in a sous vide. Not quite right. Alas. We can't trust them to deliver on the fish either. For God's sake, don't let the fish sit in the sous-vide so long next time. We did enjoy the accompaniments though - black garlic, broad beans, and courgettes. No complaints.
Bacon popped its nosy little head back into the dessert menu, appearing in some ice cream served with butter chocolate and Piedmont hazelnuts. Our Mediterranean lunch guest refused it entirely but the Brits got stuck in. A clever remix for this side of the pond. We weren't disappointed.
Overall, enjoyable. I really did like the atmosphere and decor. It's worth a visit to Frenchie for a change of scene, but we predict this restaurant will fade away quietly.