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Bistrot Bruno Loubet - Modern Bistro

Bistrot Bruno Loubet - Modern Bistro

 

The Zetter Hotel

St John’s Square 86-88 Clerkenwell Road

EC1M 5RJ

Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 4455

www.bistrotbrunoloubet.com

 

 

Despite convention, my review begins not with a description of the décor or the ambience or even scrutiny of the menu but by diving straight into the main dish. One main dish in particular: the Hare Royale. The reason? My dinner companion (not being one for bestowing credit where it isn’t due) emphatically described it as “10 out of 10”.

The Hare Royale is an unusual dish but it comfortably shares menu space with other dishes that evoked the countryside, such as pan-fried breast of wood pigeon. Hare can often be chewy and stridently gamey. However, this dish achieved (the coveted) melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and, sat on a bed of pumpkin with a dried mandarin-flavoured gravy and topped with an onion raviolo, was a skilful union of contrasting flavours. My Fish of the Day from Cornwall (pollack on a bed of red pepper and fennel) was delicious.  The pollack flaked delicately at the merest touch, but I did not have the same faraway look in my eye as my companion.

For starters, I opted for potted shrimp with Melba toast and a cucumber and onion salad. The shrimp was buttery but not too rich and was complemented by the tangy cucumber salad.  My companion chose pressed seared tuna and lardo di Colonnata with a green apple purée. I had a slice of the tuna and it was fresh and delicate and I enjoyed the sharp contrast of the purée.

Given our different menu choices, the waitress suggested a different glass of wine for each of our courses. There was a reasonable selection of reds, whites and rosé by the glass and the White Mullet Clare Valley Riesling was particularly tasty and good value. (Incidentally, the bottled water is from the restaurant’s own well underneath the building)

For dessert, we opted for lemon crème brûlée with jasmine tea sorbet, and a valrhona chocolate tartlet with caramel and salted butter ice cream. The brûlée and jasmine tea sorbet was light and smooth but the tartlet stole the day: it was slightly crunchy on the outside with a delicious gooey chocolate centre. The ice cream could have been a little less salty and have a bit more caramel for our tastes.

The Bistro is located within the Hotel Zetter and the hotel bar is integrated with the Bistro dining area. It manages to avoid the sometimes characterless feel of a hotel bar or restaurant and the bar/restaurant combination actually gave the Bistro a different, casual but ‘buzzy’ atmosphere. There were a couple of large comfy sofas at the edge of the restaurant area which added to the relaxed atmosphere and we sunk into them and enjoyed our obligatory wind-down-from-work-gin and tonic before the meal.

Owing to a little bit of internet stalking beforehand and thanks to the open kitchen we recognised Bruno Loubet, who was cooking that evening. Bruno worked under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saison early in his career and with Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. He was awarded his own Michelin star back in the early 1990s. Given this pedigree, and with starters between £6.50-8.50 and mains between £14.00-18.00, the Bistro Bruno Loubet offers an unusual, well-executed menu that is great value for money. This new kid on the block is definitely worth a visit.

Danielle Heath, CMS Cameron McKenna

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