Having commissioned one of the Berry Bros. & Rudd team to write a review of this new Covent Garden spot, and subsequently read, edited and published with outrageous envy what an utterly wonderful time they had, I was determined to make a visit myself.
Anticipation was high. Not only had I been salivating at my keyboard for weeks over Guy Davies’s review, but there seemed to be an incessant stream of Instagram posts praising the establishment, each taunting me with glimpses of the ever-changing menu. Under two months after it opened, I struggled to book a table for two a fortnight ahead of the planned date. Clearly, this Parisian export was doing something right.
Unassumingly positioned somewhere between a heaving All Bar One and Fred Perry on Henrietta Street, it’s surprising to happen upon such a little sophistiqué spot that provides a civilised oasis from the crowds of Covent Garden’s uncouth. That said, it might be a touch hard to “happen” upon at all, as I managed to walk past it twice with the aid of Google Maps. Bearing in mind the indulgence that was to come, the exercise was probably wise.
The simple décor looked a little sparse in photos, perhaps a hint too Scandi, but it feels warmer than it looks – particularly downstairs where you can nuzzle the kitchen, eying up the dishes being whisked to other tables. The staff were supremely friendly, appropriately attentive without being imposing, offering just the right amount of advice and information.
Then – of course – there’s the food. We started with bacon scones, maple syrup & seasoned Cornish clotted cream (£4). Phwoar – the sweet-savoury balance was bang on, and I could have wolfed at least another two. Next came the smoked Arctic char tartare, chive & kalamata bergamot (£12), a recommendation from our waiter, which arrived rather gaudily – a purple flower posing raunchily on a voluptuous pile of green gloup that lay on the fish itself. Despite its slightly gareish appearance, this was unbelievably good: fresh, moreish with a wonderful citric tang. Lamb ragu pappardelle, confit lemon, kalamata olive & espelette (£14) was difficult to share, richly comforting. Perhaps we’d had enough by this point, but we plumped for Mesquer’s farm pigeon, beetroot, kumquat & sumac (£23) which slipped down rather easily. We sipped on a rather intriguing carafe of Vespaiolo – surprisingly Sémillon-like, lemon-layered with a waxy feel that was terribly refreshing; then moved onto a Barbera which was a little ripe, but perfectly acceptable. We finished with banoffee, nutmeg (£9), seriously spooning it up and savouring its spiced sweetness.
It may not have been cheap, but, quite frankly, Frenchie was fantastic: the best meal I’ve had in London for a long time. Go, book – before there is a six-month waiting list, a Michelin star and a price hike.