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Bistro Bruno Loubet

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Had planned a burger at Hawksmoor last night, only to be prompted by mr friar that they only offer them at lunchtimes, he'd mentioned that loubet had returned and as it was near my hotel it seemed rude not to sample it.

Arriving for an early table at 7.30 the place was rammed, i scanned the various tables on the way through to see what was coming out and detected a distinct smell of smoked fish, or as it turned out, burning menu as my mate had set fire to the thin one pager on the tea light.

There's a few interesting sounding starters but the 'inverted lyonnaise salad' upon asking was enthusiastically described as poached trotters, strippped, bread crumbed and deep fried, with poached egg, salad leaves , sauteed potatoes etc, to paraphrase DH 'they had us at bread crumbed and deep fried'.

We eagerly awaited the plate and it looked good but it didn't eat very well, too much gelatine and not enough piggy goodness, i soldiered on but gave up, it wasn't very well dressed - nothing to cut the fat, and no potatoes.

main of veal special of braised leg wasn't as we thought a slow cooked fibrous affair but nicely cooked sliced of leg with some excellent, 'meaty' veg tasted like they'd been on a well used griddle, very good.

as we'd have to walk past the eagle to go home we decided to skip dessert and head to the eagle for a pint and maybe dessert, bit annoyed (but not suprised) that the pinot noir we were persuaded to try in preference to my choice was charged at £39 rather than the £30 of my choice, quite a step up (not on the list by the bottle- it was a carafe/glass job so not too obvious, though of course i should have done 'the math').

£97 for 2 courses each and a bottle of wine for a casual meal, is that value in london nowadays? I think you may choose differently and have a better time but i don't see it becoming a regular.

We pitched up at the eagle with a pint and a couple of portugese custard tarts and enjoyed the ambiance, think i'll be there for my dinner before the week's out.

you don't win friends with salad

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I was there the same night as Gary (sat down at 8pm) and had a slightly better experience I think - potted shrimp and mackerel to start was OK - needed a bit more seasoning and the French toast was too thin (yes I know that's the USP - perhaps I'm just not a fan) but was tasty despite that and the cucumber salad was a good match.

Main for me was Hare Royale with onion raviolo, pumpkin and dried mandarin purée - an extremely rich dish - very satisfying. My mate had the wood pigeon which seemed to go down well.

Puds were the Valhrona chocolate tart for me - did what it said on the tin - and sorbets.

Wines - nondescript glass of white for starter; bottle of Frankland River cab sauv (about £40) with the mains and a glass of good old Stanton & Killen muscat with the tart. Disappointingly the bottle we wanted (a 2001 Vacqueras) wasn't available - not sure why in a newly opened restaurant.

Bill for two came to about £140 inc. service which was friendly and eager. The room was pretty much full and very buzzy for a Tuesday night in Clerkenwell - I guess that's the Loubet effect. Whether it can maintain the same buzz once the fuss dies down time will tell, but it's a nice addition to the area and certainly somewhere I can see myself returning to (if only for its proximity to the Jerusalem Tavern).

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  • 8 months later...

I'm looking forward to a return here, as our first meal was a bit of a mixed bag. Although in the scheme of things, and because we live a long way out of town, another new (or otherwise) place, inevitably tempts us, in another direction.

Its quite some time ago since our visit, and as is now the case, some of our meals get overlooked for a number of reasons, but I knew sooner or later I had to make some comment. I am really surprised this thread is so quiet given the importance of the chef.

Just over four months ago we had a weekend table booked here and also the following day at Viajante. They both took skillful planning as both were very hot indeed and needless to say I was looking forward greatly to both.

Out of the blue, my dream car, which I had ordered three years earlier, arrived from the docks to the dealership. As I had waited so long for it I was prepared to wait a few more days before I got my grubby little hands on it.

Then bang out of the blue again, we receive an invite to a cookery demo at my local car dealership featuring Jean Christophe Novelli with a meal afterwards at my favourite premiership football club. Well we just had to go. So we cancelled.

OK so whats the connection ? Well it turns out on our meeting with Mr Novelli, that he is mates with Bruno Loubet, and wants me to thank him again, for the meal in Oz, that Bruno put on for him at his restaurant when JC was visiting the country.

Job done, I will do.

As it turned out I had a great time at the event, even cooking a bit of food with JC who is one of the nicest people on this planet, he truly is a bloody nice bloke, in fact he is a bloody, bloody nice bloke.

So eventually we re-book and its during England's abysmal football fiasco so I need cheering up a bit.

A very friendly greeting on entering the restaurant does not result in a good table, as the one we are seated at is too close to the bar with a slim walkway, resulting in quite a few people brushing past on their way through. Thankfully our attentive M'Aitre D spots the inconveniance and pleases us with a good window table affording a view to the open kitchen.


Bread was served in a flowerpot, and was a bit, well, ok I suppose. Perhaps a bit too chewy for my liking.


From a choice of seven starters on the paper menu, we started with, Guinea Fowl Boudin Blanc (£7). Now this was fantastic, a thing of beauty. Sitting on top of leek fondue and and a moat of chervil sauce, flavour wise it was the dogs goolies. Nice caramelisation on said sausage made it all the more visually appealing, (as opposed to some we have eaten recently).

Mauricette snails and Meatballs with royale de champingnons (£8)


This is a signiture dish named after his mother.

Now again this was a stonking dish, a big plate of comfort food, perfectly seasoned, great depth of flavour. It may not look photogenic but by golly if looks were deceptive. For me this dish is Bruno Loubet.


There was a special of the day, Atlantic Cod. (£17.50).Salt cod brandade, fennel, and piperade, with the gentle heat of red chilli running through it. Again big on flavour, fresh as a daisy fish, flaky translucent centre, good texture in the red peppers, tasty sauce. Of the sea taste, with not too much salt.


Of the seven mains on the menu we plumped for Confit Lamb Shoulder (£16), this was served with white beans and preserved lemon and green harissa.

Now this was good, but not as good as the previous three dishes. In honesty the lamb was a bit dry and stringy and it needed the wonderful sauce to help it down. It was not quite in the same league as before but blimey they were hard acts to follow.


Quail and pistachio Dodine (£18.50) was a dish I lusted after when I saw it on the website, however again it did not sing. Perhaps if we had started with the mains and finished with the starters we would have been happier. As I say the first three dishes were superb, a real hard act to follow. All of the components including the spinach and egg yolk raviolo were good. I just fealt that the quail did not have the depth of flavour it perhaps should have, I should know, I used to keep some, they have a distinctive aroma. I bet if I ate this dish as a stand alone, without comparison I would like it a lot more.


We shared a dessert Yoghurt mousse, passion fruit and ginger lamington (£5.50) This was a waiter recommend, and it was just ok I,m afraid I,m sure there are better desserts on the menu, still,

Bruno Loubet is a real talent. I have tasted his food before and loved it then, as I do now. He was not in the kitchen on the day but I was introduced to him by Richard Vines when we dined at Koffmanns.

Richard and Bruno had just left the kitchen after speaking to Pierre Koffmann and dropped by our table to say hello.

( It should be remembered Pierre Koffmann was Bruno Loubets mentor.)

Finally I was able to pass on the message from Jean Christophe Novelli.

As you can gather we were on cloud nine three dishes into the meal, we thought them amazing, big gutsy flavours, our type of cooking. The other mains were almost, but not quite up their, but hell they were still good, and the overall quality of cooking is very high indeed.

Its just a shame its so far away and in a City with so much temptation.

"So many places, so little time"



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  • 1 month later...

After a working Sunday morning, at 1.30 we couldn't face riding home and cooking. The bistro was just a short walk away and we decided to give it a try. It was only half full.

The bread is excellent.

I had the same boudin blanc described by David above (this time served on white beans) and I, too, found it great.

The other starter was betroot ravioli with rocket, a rather strange dish with a rather undercooked pasta and an oily salad. Not completely bad, but not a success either.

The mains, a lamb tagine and a roast chicken with creamed brussels sprouts, featured good raw materials and the expected robust, rich flavours. A bit too much fat with a lack of balancing elements, in our judgement, but good bistro dishes nonetheless. Large portions.

Service was very kind and cheerful.

We had a half litre carafe of a Madiran at £43 and that was mistake. With tap water and two coffees (good) plus service charge (no desserts) we paid £107, which, even if we had a good lunch overall with aspects of charm, we don't feel is great value for money. For comparison, Koffman's cuisine is a notch above and in a better area, and far better value (I am so much looking forward to a return there on Tuesday).

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