photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Being really good looking is hard. We wouldn’t know, but we’ve heard rumours. There might be some perks, like knowing that if you fall on hard times you could always dust off that Love Island application. But there are also some negatives. Like, you might find yourself in a daily battle to alter people’s assumptions that you have a lower IQ than their pet goldfish. It’s not right, and it isn’t fair, but if you’re really, really good-looking, people might assume that there’s not that much else to you.
Frenchie is a very, very good-looking restaurant in Covent Garden. We’ve met restaurants like this before, with their lovely pastel velvet seating, warm dome lighting, and entirely disappointing food hidden under a mountain of truffle. When you first sit down at Frenchie’s shiny bar, confronted with your own reflection and a whole lot of brass detailing, you might worry that you’re about to eat some very attractive, very boring food. But you don’t need to.
Take the bacon and maple syrup scone starter. It comes with a single dollop of cream, and it’s genius. It’s a scone. But it’s meaty. And it’s sweet. And entirely fuss-free. Then there’s the brussels sprout tempura with anchovies and mustard. It’s everything you hated as a child, made into moreish, crispy little bites of joy. By the time you’re onto the goat’s cheese manicotti, you’ll realise the scone wasn’t some bacon baked goods fluke. No, you’ll realise, that the food at Frenchie is excellent.
As well as being excellent, the food here can also be pricey (we’re looking at you, £15 smoked bream starter), but the £30 set menu makes it very doable for a catch up, or a birthday dinner, without having to survive for the foreseeable future off of a memory of your pappardelle starter. Catch us on a bad day and we’d pay 30 quid for a single bite of the banoffee and caramelised pecan dessert that comes as part of the set menu. A deal this good is like some beautiful street cat, we’re sort of scared to draw too much attention to it and scare it away. But, if you do want to kick it old school with the à la carte menu, the food here is always worth splashing out for.
When you first hear the name Frenchie you might envision some London take on millefeuille and blackboards covered in apostrophes. But you’ll soon discover that this isn’t some Francophile art student with a fag hanging out their mouth answering ‘putain!’ to everything from ‘what’s your name?’ to ‘are you sure that fedora suits you?’. No, as soon as you eat here, you’ll be sure that Frenchie is much more than a pretty face.
Bacon Scone, Maple Syrup, And Clotted Cream
Everyone should be eating this as soon as solids are an option. Sweet, salty, sticky, creamy. You need one each. And, if you end up ordering another round for dessert, we won’t judge you. In fact, that’s exactly what we did.
Cornish Oyster, Shallots, And Tarragon Vinaigrette
Nice enough, but there are better things to eat here. See above. See below.
Brussels Sprouts Tempura, Taramasalata, Nardin Anchovies, And Mustard
Honestly, it’s like someone got stoned and made this out of the bits and bobs in the back of your fridge. We’re not saying that’s what happened, but if it is then it’s probably the greatest mistake since the discovery of penicillin. It’s delicious.
Lamb Ragu Pappardelle, Kalamata Olives, Espelette, And Preserved Lemon
A very tasty, very filling starter. Hot tip: set a five minute alarm on your phone, eat until it goes off, then remind yourself that at the end of this journey there’s banoffee waiting and put the fork down. Alternative hot tip: share it.
Manicotti, Aged Burr Goat’s Cheese, Wild Leek Pesto, And Pecan Nuts
We didn’t know that you could get this many textures in a single tube of pasta. Now we do. And we’re into it.
Woolley Park Farm Guinea Fowl, Barley Risotto, Celeriac, And White Miso
Do we know or care where Woolley Park Farm is? No, not really. It’s probably lovely. This definitely is. The barley risotto is surprisingly light, and the white miso with the guinea fowl is a winning combination.
Banoffee, Nutmeg, And Caramelised Pecan
Us before our first mouthful: yeah, sure, pretty full, we should share. Us after our first mouthful: get your own one. Stop eating it so fast. You’re hogging the banana. Did you seriously just steal my spoon? You bell-end. Basically, it’s light, fluffy, crunchy, and incredibly moreish. No matter how full you are, you’re not going to want to share it.