Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Le Boudin Blanc: Authentic French Bistro hidden away in the heart of Mayfair


 I recently had the pleasure of dining at Le Boudin Blanc in Mayfair where I had the most delicious French Onion soup. This post is written by my dinner companion 'Ragueneau', a French guest reviewer who introduced me to the restaurant.


French Cuisine, Une Piece of Resistance: Le Boudin Blanc

Lovers of French cuisine: maybe your palate has been over-tested by the avant-garde dishes served in exotic London eateries. Maybe you feel a little uncomfortable dining in pretentious haute cuisine restaurants, where you are constantly wary of committing a faux pas. Perhaps you simply long for the Paris bistrots, which maintain a tradition of simple and savoury dishes, so quintessential to the French savoir vivre. Let me save you a journey across the Channel, and tell you how to satisfy legitimate cravings in good old London. Let me introduce you to the Boudin Blanc.



On the edge of pretty Shepherd’s Market, in the heart of the West End, you may spot a restaurant painted olive green with willow chairs outside. It is hard to resist the terrace of Le Boudin Blanc on a sunny day, but the interior also invites you to find solace from the harsh English winter. Set on two floors, the dining area has warm wooden panels. At night, candlelight shines on art deco posters and tables. All types of dining parties are welcome here. If it is a lively evening, the place may be noisy and is a good choice for a group of friends but if sharing my good fortune, you come here for a charming rendez-vous, you may consider a quieter corner.

While most of the personnel is French, you may be surprised if you are expecting the waiters to show arrogance or discourtesy, which, in Paris, are very much a la mode. I would also like to recommend the sommelier, who is very helpful in spite of being brought up in rainy Normandy, one of the very few French provinces not blessed by vineyards.

The restaurant offers de rigueur classic starters: oysters, escargots, mussels and foie gras among others. I had the coup de foudre for the onion soup. The broth, made with caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese and croutons, is a simple dish, but delicious when well prepared. The legend attributes its creation to a French King, who, starving after a hunting party, ordered a dish to be prepared with the few ingredients available in his country lodge. This is a nourishing dish, but really, if you eat like a bird, you are in the wrong kind of aviary!

The menu for main courses offers traditional meat and fish dishes. The fish dishes respect the original subtle savour of the product, while garnishes add a je ne sais quoi of creativity. Meat dishes are virile: no need to present the French tartare here, but you may also consider the boudin, the eponymous dish of the restaurant. The latter is a generous dish made of mixed pork and poultry served in a Madeira sauce with creamy mashed potatoes. A selection of Scottish beef would seduce less adventurous diners.

Wines are quite pricey, even the ones coming from the less expensive vineyards. However, you also pay for the very extensive choice and careful selection of the best Chateaux from a great diversity of regions. To finish a pantagruelian dinner, you may also want to explore the spirits the French call digestifs, Calvados, Cognac and Armagnac. That should be it for one night, but Le Boudin Blanc, crème de la crème of French rustic cuisine, will invite you again and again to resume your Tour de France of savoury terroirs.

Ragueneau


Le Boudin Blanc

5 Trebeck St Shepherds Market Mayfair London W1J 7LT.
Tel: 020 7499 3292
Tube: Green Park


Le Boudin Blanc on Urbanspoon



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