A brief culinary history lesson if I may. Bruno Loubet made his name in the early 1990’s as one of the most dynamic and consistently brilliant young chefs cooking in England. Jobs at high profile restaurants such as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons were awarded, Michelin Stars were gained and things were generally looking up for the French prodigy. Then, for whatever reason, Bruno decided in 2002 to test his skills in non other than the culinary wilderness that is Australia! Clearly sense prevailed – albeit eight years later – and Bruno is back to give London’s dining scene a little shake up.
His new restaurant fittingly takes residence the Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell – a venue which itself has earned many plaudits for its non-conventional approach to the Hotel industry. The restaurant itself takes a subversive approach to design, with the liberal use of quirky furniture and old fashion industrial lighting to keep things interesting. Clearly we weren’t the only ones impressed by the venue as a packed restaurant on Thursday evening will testify.
We started off with a couple of excellent cocktails at the bar, including a particularly interesting and potent Brillet (Cognac shaken with apple & elderflower). At around £7.50/cocktail, prices were also reasonable for a venue of this calibre. There is also a sufficiently playful and accessible wine list to enjoy, a dozen options by the glass and carafe. More importantly though, you must not leave this bar without indulging in one of their fabulous macaroons that are irresistibly displayed atop the bar. Crisp, moist chewy, sweet and rich – all in one mouthful of the Mint chocolate and Passion fruit varieties we tried; it could just be the best £2 you spend all year!
So all this and we haven’t got to the food yet. However, worth the wait it is. Bruno’s inimitable style takes on subtle Asian and North African influence to create interesting yet unquestionably delicious bistro-style dishes. The Onion & cider soup featured an Emmenthal soufflé and was good as any French onion soup around, whilst the Mauricette snails & meatballs with royale de champignons was full of rich, bold flavours which married together perfectly. A hearty main of Hare Royale, onion raviolo, pumpkin & dried mandarin purée featured a beguiling Oriental style sauce with notes of Hoi-sin and plum. Conversely, the Shoulder of lamb was the epitome of simplicity, with the perfectly cooked meat being served in its own delicious juices with some delicious veg. For desserts, the Valrhona chocolate tartlet with caramel & salted butter ice cream will sort out any chocolate fix, whilst the less sweet toothed will enjoy Brioche, crème fraîche and rhubarb tart.
Some excellent Service was every bit as impressive as the food, with waiters showing nothing but absolute knowledge and passion for the restaurant and its food. It’s not often you can say this of a restaurant with such a renowned character at the helm, but pricing is spot on too with starters for around £7.50 and mains for around £16.50 – all with plentiful portions.
Cuisine type: French bistro with a twist
Meal for two (excluding drinks): £60
Bistrot Bruno Loubet @ The Zetter Hotel
St John’s Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London, EC1M 5RJ
Tel: 020 7324 4455