Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Hint Of Paris In London

Le Mercury

Apart from my undying love for macaroons ( though I feel they are anyway too pretty and too much of a special occasion treat to consider an actual food which is also why I don't consider them to be containing calories obviously), I have never been a big fan of the French cuisine. It isn't known to be particularly none-meat-eater friendly and for one of my French friends living in London makes it near impossible not to veer back towards a bite of foie gras when she is back, she more a vegetarian by taste and for health than of course animal rights in this case. This all resulted in a rather mediocre culinary experience on my trips, though I did enjoy the copious amounts of patisserie goods, and meant that I was never much tempted to seek out French food in London. 

However two recent discoveries have changed my opinion for the better, maybe aided also by my new found love of red wine that served as perfect accompaniment for the dinner I enjoyed at Le Mecury. Located on upper street in Angel, for me one of the nicest streets in London with a quaint neighbourhood feel, Le Mercury completely surprised me with it's authentic French cooking, incredibly good prices, intimate atmosphere AND very good vegetarian choices. Once sat down at one of their tiny tables with a candle lit on top, Le Mercury has that certain old school "ideal place for a date" vibe that in London too often gets lost in restaurants with fancy new concepts and purposely " unfinished" interiors that just end up looking a little try hard. Yes, you aren't going to be getting the newest culinary creations here but after all neither do you in a lovely Parisian bistro and neither did that limit my enjoyment of the dishes. Everything from the grilled goats cheese salad for starters to my incredible gnocchi with butternut squash sauce for mains were perfectly seasoned, well presented and a real bargain considering that all main courses are priced under the ten and all starters and dessert under the five pound mark. Meat eaters will be pleased that this also means rump steak and the, by my dining companion highly recommended, lamb are included in this, making Le Mercury an affordable yet tasty and sophisticated place to enjoy a dinner, of course with one of their equally well priced bottles of red wine to wash it all down with. It may only look like any bistro you would find in Paris but Le Mercury is a great little gem in the middle of London with that same passion for food and wine that I became so enchanted with on my last two visits.

As far as street food goes crepes are of course another French institution and one that is also not easily found done well in London ( I have to say that I myself am often biased to go for the thicker and less sophisticated American pancake version for brunch). Whilst in Paris however I discovered the wonders of a savoury crepe after enjoying one filled with smoked salmon at 3 am after one too many cocktails. Keen to find a version in London I was happy to discover Creperie Du Monde on Chatsworth road. With a menu solely focused on savoury and sweet crepes, each sounding incredible ( oreo cookies, butterscotch sauce and cream anyone?) I couldn't help but make a trip there for brunch. Though service was a little off and waiting times just about bearable, the crepes served were definitely worth it. I went for the brunch favourite - smoked salmon, poached eggs, hollandaise and asparagus, served on a whole wheat crepe ( though you can of course also go for the classic white version). Made right in front of you, the crepe was paper thin, delicious and worked perfectly with the toppings. Though not as cheap as their Parisian counterparts ( my crepe was £7.50) it was a great brunch alternative and I can't wait to return to try some of their sweet options. Another piece of Paris in the midst of London I shall return to more often! 

Creperie Du Monde