Restaurants & Bars

U.K./Ireland

Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell, London

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Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell, London

limster | Feb 23, 2010 04:56 PM

Came across this place on the Bloomberg website.

Warm bread (a small bun served in a flowerpot) with a beautiful crust, crackling over the soft interior of even sized bubbles and a toasty wheat flavour.

Meatballs (smallish, tender and lightly meaty, fairly fine mince) and snails (nice solid bites, with some heft and chew to it, might have been better with a clean snap and rip in the texture) are arrayed around a round base of royale de champignons (a creamy puree of mushrooms). A fruity and fairly concentrated tomato sauce with chunks of tomato was well calibrated, and despite the intensity of the fruit, managed somehow to maintain a sense of balance. The items worked fairly well together -- acidity, sweetness, fruit in the sauce against the creamy mushroom puree and brightening up the meatballs (veal or pork?), although the sauce might have slightly overpowered the snails.

A perfectly al dente onion raviolo sits on top of a hare royale. Hare, with very fine and slightly ropey fibres, stuffed with pork (bacon? belly?), foie gras, and possibly other morsels of innards, coming together with beautifully flavours (reminded me of the lovely Hunan smoked meats at Golden Day)-- a moderately gamey background, dark livery notes, a background of lusty smokiness -- yet no rough edges in the flavours despite the meaty intensity, possibly because it was rounded off by the sweetness of the pumpkin puree (the sweetness subtly enhanced with mandarin orange) and the sauce -- richly textured (beneath it a long reduced stock with lots of bone? or was it a judicious application of the hare's blood as in the traditional rendition of this dish? - I certainly didn't catch any prominent metallic notes), dark red and shiny, tightly integrated, smooth on the palate, and perhaps adding its own caramel like qualities. Together the parts of the dish evoked complex, deep demiglace based sauces and a savoury sweetness that reminded me occasionally of gochujang.

For those interested, here's one of many threads about hare/lievre à la royale:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666654

Just as rustic as everything else was a mille feuile of apple and quince, soft fruit with still a bit of bite, separated by thin slabs of layered pastry that shattered in a moment's crunch. A cloud of creamy sabayon, perfumedy with orange blossom for a contrasting fruity angle.

Honest, big hearted but unpretentious food that is backed by skilled technique and labour-intensive cooking (imagine putting together the parts of the hare royale). Sauces might be bosomy and big (and perhaps not for those who lean towards dainty flavours), but are also intricate and well put together. Pitch perfect classical bistrot food that is immensely satisfying in a visceral way.

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