Frenchie – Review (Covent Garden) – a bistro with a sharp suit? Trés Bon!

Greg Marchand opens “Frenchie” in February this year, a name coined for him by Jamie Oliver when he was the Head Chef in Fifteen way back when. Marchand has also completed stints in the Mandarin Oriental as well as The Savoy before opening Restaurant Frenchie at the rue du Nil of Paris’ 2nd district in 2009. He now comes back to London bringing Parisian cuisine inspired by the flavours from his travels to Convent Garden’s Henrietta Street. The restaurant is spread across two floors coming with a splattering of marble, exposed brick, low-hung lamps, a basement wine cellar and a cocktail bar too. It’s a bistro with a sharp suit that’s for sure.

The self-explanatory menu is spilt across four parts and even includes a cheeky snacks section. The sour dough is from Mikael Johnson’s Hedone, a place which firmly sits in my must-visit list.

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I went a little bit off-piste with this wonderful Michter’s Bourbon sour and superbly made White Lady. We’re off to a good start.

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My view

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What’s down the stairs?

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Chefs at work

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That wine cellar

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From the snacks 

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Bacon Scones, Maple Syrup & Seasoned Cornish Clotted Cream £4. Small but mighty crumbly scones with jewels of bacon. The seasoned quenelles of clotted cream melt once you spread it into the oven fresh scones. You can taste all the individual elements in every bite. They are £4 for 2 – that’s my only gripe!

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Cornish Crab, Black Rice Cracker & Kalamata Lemon £5. You can really taste the inherent sweetness of the crab which is further enhanced by the Kalamata lemon from Southern Greece.

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Clarence Court Egg Mimosa, Preserved Lemon & Seeds £3. If you like egg mayonnaise then this will be recreational eating for you. There is a continuous use of lemon which begins here which provides the additional lift.

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Courgette Flower Tempura, Smoked Tarama £7. The tempura is light, crispy and pitch perfect. To dip it into the taramasalata too will make your mouth gush. I could eaten these by the dozen.

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From the first courses

Sour Dough Tartellette, Spring Vegetables & Goats Curd £9. The tartness of the goats curd working well against the crisp and earthy-sweet vegetables. The additional texture element kicks in with the tart.

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Smoked Artic Char, Raspberry, Piedmont Hazelnuts & Elderflower £13. The artic char I found was rich and oily, more delicate than a salmon & eaten along with the raspberries made two ways (perhaps coulis?) it proves emphatically that fruit can work with fish. 101 food art for sure here too.

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Scottish Mussels, Fino Sherry, Pickled Carrots, Vadouvan Crumble £10. The curry aromatics from the French/Indian spice mix robust enough to make mussels drunk in flavour, but meaty flavour is still intact. I became a pervert for this dish and kept slurping until the shells were empty.

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Duck Foie Gras, Burlat Cherries, Pickled Girolles & Fresh Almond £12.50. It’s a sight-for-sore eyes isn’t it? The layered buttery foie richness hits you with rude health, but the cherry acidity stops it becoming too heavy. I’d recommended using that marvellous bread from Hedone for spreading. Shoot me but I preferred eating the bread alone with the Berkeley Farm butter – it was that good. Perhaps I’m a stickler for foie.

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Pickled girolles and cherry purée adding the much needed acidity.

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Hedone bread is stellar, the crust imparted great texture and flavour.

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Squid Ink Ravioli, King Edward Potato, Lobster Bisque and Puffed Barley £14. Carbs on carbs especially when they’re this good is bound to be a profound experience. The complexity and viscosity from the bisque glues everything together. I became even more perverted after eating this.

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Braised Pig’s Head, Sobrasada, Spring Onions & Broad Beans £15. The complex umami flavour profile is super sorted and it’s everything I love about slow cooked food.

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Lamb Ragù Pappardelle, Confit Lemon, Kalamata Olive & Espelette £14. You can really taste the hours of slow cooking in the dish, the deepest medley of flavour hits you with high hats if star anise. The dissolving qualities of the lamb hugs slithery pasta, it’s the kind of food you’d happily lock yourself in a room with. This was favourite of the first courses followed closely by the pig’s head.

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Onto the mains

Cornish Monkfish, Borlotti Beans, Samphire, Girolles & Black Garlic £25. Yes it was as good at it looked.

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Cornish Turbot, Jersey Royal Potato, Kumquat & Lemon Verbena £28. Served with a melange of vegetables from carrots to courgettes all working well with the perfectly cooked fish.

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Ibaiama Pork, Cooked in Salt Crust, Smoked Aubergine, Goats Curd & Zaatar £27. Those weeny aubergine’s sprinkled with Middle Eastern herbs contained so much flavour I could have eaten a whole plate of them. However, the succulent pork and lip smackingly good jus were real winners too.

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Onto the deserts

Banoffee, Nutmeg and Caramelised Pecans £9. This deconstructed banoffee pie was brilliantly whipped, bubbly yet rich. There were layers frozen banana underneath on a bed roasted malt and pecans with a pinch of salt to keep things steady.

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Apricot, Peach & Pecan Tart, Tonka Bean Ice Cream £8. It looks sublime but the that’s where the story ended as it turned out to be quite bland compared with the other deserts.

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Bitter Chocolate, Hazelnut Crumble, Smoked Bacon Ice Cream £8. It was akin to a very focused chocolate mousse and once you combine all the components in one bite it becomes a triumph. It was perhaps the best dessert of the night.

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The verdict:

When did I go? July 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £65-£100 per head with drinks.
The good: Overall the aesthetically beautiful cooking was precise, with fabulously sourced ingredients and balanced flavours. Somehow the snacks and first courses conquered the mains though. It’s rare that you get cocktail bar quality mixology in restaurants, Frenchie is an exception. The warm, attentive and smiling service paid dividends, which means Frenchie will be a keeper in my eyes.

The bad: The portion sizes seemed disproportionate to the pricing, it was fortunate that the four of us ordered practically everything on the menu otherwise we would have walked away unsatisfied. So I’d recommend 2 cheeky snacks each, a first course, a main and a desert per person. Also the menu is subject to change so the reviewed plates may not be available when you visit.
Rating: 4.5/5
Address: 16 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QH
Closest tube: Charing Cross/Covent Garden
Phone: 020 7836 4422

http://www.frenchiecoventgarden.com/

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