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Bistro Bruno Loubet

by Ross Bruniges on June 12th, 2011

At a glance

Bistro Bruno Loubet

Chef: Bruno Loubet

Reservations: 020 7324 4455

Rating: 7 out of 10

Cost : £50-£75


The Zetter

86-88 Clerkenwell Road




Location map

Don't just take my word for it

Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

In photos

Bistro Bruno Loubet

Thin apple tart

More pictures

I recently had a spot of time without a working debit card meaning access to money was done via the counter with a passport; ultimately meaning that I got out new money only for a special occasion. Banks being the customer service hot bed that they are instead of sending the new card to my house they instead sent it to Leather Lane in Clerkenwell. Living in Herne Hill (SE24) I decided that I would make the most of the trip and got a cheeky dinner into the trip; looking though the restaurants in the local area the French bistro style cooking done at Bistrot Bruno Loubet looked fab so booked in. I then started reading around the web and found that according to the National Restaurant Awards this was the 3rd best in the UK and possibly deserving of more than just a cheeky dinner…

Even though I was set to start at 6pm (when the restaurant opens) I was in the area a bit earlier and didn’t fancy trying to crash an AKQA party of some sort so, knowing that the restaurant is tagged onto The Zetter hotel I tried to sneak into the hotel bar, which turns out to also be the restaurant bar. I was happy that they had Meantime London larger so had a pint and had a look around the place. White table cloths, wooden chairs and lovely big windows letting in plenty of light, not sure what it would be like on a dark rainy day but the vibe on a sunny one was great. I’ve read reviews saying the place is ‘buzzing’ but not this day, though much of that would have been down to me being their first through the door. I also thought the menu lacked a few of the tastier dishes I’ve seen in reviews. Not sure if they were either being rested or re-developed but there was less choice than I would have liked. The uncommon cuts promised were present though which is a good thing; always gives me something to look forward to.

Octopus, smoked anchovies and bean salad

The meal didn’t start out well. I’m still not sure if it was me being dense, a mis-placed comma or just a bad description but on seeing “Octopus, smoked anchovies and bean salad” my mind conjured up images of large chunks of octopus meat, tenticles and suckers charred and seasoned with a bit of pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon with a little salad on the side. This was not the case with the emphasis being on salad opposed to octopus and unfortunately neither were very nice; the octopus content seemed rather meager and had the texture and taste of stuff I have had out of a tin. I wasn’t sure what to do so did what I’m good at and ate my way out of the problem by ordering a second starter – the homemade boudin blanc, and decided to start the meal again :)

On this case the meal started out very well; the boudin blanc being a bloodless version of black pudding (or boudin noir) was rich and had a silky smooth texture. Served with peas and bacon this was a very easy thing to eat and tasty too; I get the impression that this is slowly becoming a house favourite and something I would strongly recommend having, especially to avoid a surprise salad situation like I got into.

Homemade boudin blanc – quick becoming their signature dish

Now back on track (I have to say the kitchen did well my my unexpected course) I had my planned main course of piglet. Similar to kid (something I’ve raved about after having it at St John) this was a very smooth meat with a more light piggy taste than it’s older family member. The taste was enhanced with the addition of a thick gravy, strong radish and, in what read as a strange addition, some candied lemons. These turned out to be a master-stroke which each bite adding a lovely zing to the meat and gravy and exciting my taste buds. The garlic mash was also very epic without a lump to be found.

The meal was finished off with a sweet apple tart with just melted cinnamon ice-cream. I knew this would taste good and indeed it did, lovely sugar coated apples and a nice crisp pastry.

Piglet, crackling, radish and candied lemons

After taking the initial mulligan I did enjoy the food here, lots of nice big flavours at good prices. Took them rather a long time to get into the service but that might have well been my fault for arriving so early and I think I’d like to go a few more times during the year to see how the menu evolves. Best 3 in the UK? Probably not though certainly a welcome addition to the Clerkenwell area and there is certainly good food to be had here and it won’t break the bank.

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