Dinner for 1 with epic amounts of wine: £60.00
My good friend Ian recently became old and to celebrate this fact he had a birthday lunch at his favorite local French bistro. As usual I was the first to arrive (why does this always happen to me?).
Having anticipated a big meal I had not had breakfast. So I decided to start off lightly with a Bellini or 2 or 3. This is a place where all of the bartenders and the maitre d’ know how to make a proper drink – and from scratch – nothing from a bottle or pre-made mix. Lovely.
When the rest of the celebrants arrived we were shown to our table and were taken care of by a wonderfully attentive wait staff. Most of the staff at Bouchon Breton are either ludicrously French or pretending to be. Expect a lot of rolling rrrrs and hand flourishes.
For my first starter I ordered two oysters – one from France and one a local British variety. They were beautifully fresh and perfectly shucked (no clumps of loose shell) and served with shallot and vinegar which is my preferred accompaniment. While enjoying them our waiter asked if I would like to try an oyster that they estimated at 20 years of age. I expected it to be rubbery and well old tasting – but aside from its ludicrous size – it was just marvelous. Very sweet and briny all at the same time. For some reason I did not photograph the old man of the sea but just imagine an oyster 3 times the size of the one on the right in the photo – seriously.
For my second starter – yeah you heard me right 2 starters – I had a country style pate with red onion compote. It was fine, nothing to complain about, just a competent pate. The onion compote was very nice but if I didn’t have a photograph of this course I might’ve forgotten it. In hindsight I probably should have skipped this course because for my main I went a little nuts.
For this course we drank a nice bottle of Gigondas – which is one of my favorite less expensive French reds.
This was one of the best cassoulets I’ve been served. You can see how yummy it is in the photo. The flavors were fantastic – the beans and pork fat and sausage – oh my god it was really good. My only criticism of the dish is that the confit duck was a little dry. I had a nice light side of daphinois potatoes with it, which combined with the cassoulet, almost put me into a coma.
I am pretty sure that at this point we were drinking a Burgundy – but really who knows. Whatever it was I remember it paired well with the cassoulet.
Smartly at this point I decided to take it easy and skip desert. Not so smartly I decided to keep drinking and ordered a glass of lovely Sauternes to cap off the meal. I should point out again that this was lunch. I had a wicked hangover by 4pm but the food, friends, service and atmosphere made it all worth it.
This is a great place to come for either a special occasion or for no reason at all. It has all that you want in a good bistro – good food, professional friendly waitstaff and sommeliers, an excellent wine list and a relaxed but not sloppy atmosphere.
Le Bouchon Breton
8 Horner Square
Old Spitalfields Market
London E1 6EW