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, that come 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.
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.
What’s down the stairs?
Chefs at work
That wine cellar
From the snacks
Bacon Scones, Maple Syrup & Seasoned Cornish Clotted Cream £4. Small but mighty, crumbly scones with jewels of bacon were things to behold. The seasoned quenelles of clotted cream melt once spread on the oven fresh scones. You can taste all the individual elements in every bite, it’s the kind of carb I love. They are £4 for two which was my only gripe!
Cornish Crab, Black Rice Cracker & Kalamata Lemon £5. The ripe inherent sweetness of the crab is punched up by Kalamata lemon from Southern Greece. It’s a brilliant snack.
Clarence Court Egg Mimosa, Preserved Lemon & Seeds £3. If you like egg mayonnaise then this will be recreational eating for you. Its basically pimped devilled eggs.
Courgette Flower Tempura, Smoked Tarama £7. The tempura is light, crispy and pitch perfect here. Combined with the taramasalata, they were all kinds of delicious.
From the first courses
Sour Dough Tartellette, Spring Vegetables & Goats Curd £9. The tartness of the goats curd worked well against the crisp and earthy-sweet vegetables. Another impressive thing to put in your mouth.
Smoked Artic Char, Raspberry, Piedmont Hazelnuts & Elderflower £13. The artic char I found was rich and oily, but more delicate than salmon. Eaten along with the raspberries made two ways (perhaps coulis?) it proves emphatically that fruit can work with fish.
Scottish Mussels, Fino Sherry, Pickled Carrots, Vadouvan Crumble £10. The curry aromatics from the French/Indian spice mix soaked into the mussels, making them drunk in flavour. I became a pervert for this dish and kept slurping until the shells until they were all empty.
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 for saying this, but I preferred eating the bread alone with the Berkeley Farm butter – it was that good. Perhaps I’m a stickler for foie.
Pickled girolles and cherry purée adding the much needed acidity.
Hedone bread is stellar, the crust imparted great texture and flavour.
Squid Ink Ravioli, King Edward Potato, Lobster Bisque and Puffed Barley £14. The the deep, viscous seafood complexity of the bisque glued everything together. It was lip-smackingly delectable.
Braised Pig’s Head, Sobrasada, Spring Onions & Broad Beans £15. The rich bold flavour of jus suggested that there was hours care and love that went into it – the viscosity of it was perfect for slathering onto the soft yielding flesh of the animal. I devoured the whole thing with gusto, not because I was starving but it was brilliant.
Lamb Ragù Pappardelle, Confit Lemon, Kalamata Olive & Espelette £14. Another dish where you can really taste the hours of slow cooking – the sauce, infused with star anise was huge and had deepest medley of flavour. The dissolving qualities of the lamb hugs the slithery pasta, it’s the kind of food I don’t like sharing. This was favourite of the first courses followed closely by the pig’s head.
Onto the mains
Cornish Monkfish, Borlotti Beans, Samphire, Girolles & Black Garlic £25. Yes it was as good at it looked. Fish cookery is exceptional here too.
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.
Ibaiama Pork, Cooked in Salt Crust, Smoked Aubergine, Goats Curd & Zaatar £27. Conker sized aubergine’s were sprinkled with Middle Eastern herbs, they packed a punch, and were so moorish I could have eaten a whole plate of them. However, the succulent pork and everything besides made this dish a winner.
Onto the deserts
Banoffee, Nutmeg and Caramelised Pecans £9. This deconstructed banoffee pie was brilliantly whipped, bubbly yet rich. There were layers of frozen banana underneath, on a bed roasted malt and pecans with a pinch of flavour enhancing salt.
Apricot, Peach & Pecan Tart, Tonka Bean Ice Cream £8. It looks sublime but that’s where the story ended as it turned out to be quite bland compared with the other deserts.
Bitter Chocolate, Hazelnut Crumble, Smoked Bacon Ice Cream £8. A triumph and perhaps the best dessert of the night.
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: I would say the portion sizes seemed a tad disproportionate to the pricing, if I was in a discerning mood. 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.
Address: 16 Henrietta St, London, WC2E 8QH
Closest tube: Charing Cross/Covent Garden
Phone: 020 7836 4422