L’ABSINTHE: BERET GOOD GEAR IN NW1
I’m a big fan of the independent restaurant operation. The sort of place where the owner or chef does their thing and who isn’t afraid of putting themselves out there so that if there’s a problem, well, you know who to go to.
Over the past year I’ve enjoyed meals at several such places, like the Italian 500 in Archway and the Giaconda Dining Rooms in the centre of town. Ok, the food wasn’t the ne plus ultra of restaurant grub but it was well cooked, generous in portion and full of spirit. In short these places gave a fuck, which if you’ve read any of our past posts means a lot to Dos Hermanos. So it’s good to post about another place which meets these simple criteria.
L’Absinthe sits on the corner of a residential street in London’s fashionable Primrose Hill. It’s a tight little space, simply decorated and with an owner who, on first appearance, comes on a bit like a professional frenchie – the last restaurant I visited whose owner had a French accent and wore a beret came from Streatham - happily though, both le patron and le bistro in this case are the real thing.
The menu is full of the usual suspects of classic bistro dishes that you have known and loved, if being a little bit light on the fishy options (not a problem for me). It’s all freshly and lovingly prepared, it’s all reasonably priced and best of all it’s very tasty.
Duck Rillettes were textbook stuff: good and fatty they were the sort of dish that said, nay screamed, spread me on toast and accompany me with a nice glass of Gigondas. Happy to oblige.
Quackers reappeared, in preserved form again, as a Confit. A leg could have benefited from a crisper skin but was nevertheless a decent, deeply savoury, piece of fowl. There was some braised Savoy cabbage on the side. A well-judged i.e. not over-reduced jus gras pulled the whole together.
Chips ? Of course there were, golden and proper.
Tarte Tatin would have been the classic choice for pud, but there was Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce on the menu (be still my beating heart).
There is a German word, Gemütlichkeit, which describes a place where you feel so cosy and so at home that you don’t want to leave. I’m not sure what the French equivalent is but L’Absinthe has it in spades. So much so that I found myself staggering homewards after almost four hours; most of which was spent knocking back Double Espressos, Vielle Prunes and generally putting the World to rights.
Ok - so if you come here and your journey time is over 30 minutes, then you’ve travelled too far and you should really be eating nearer to home. L’Absinthe is a neighbourhood joint that goes about its business in its own pleasing way and satisfies accordingly. There should be one on every street corner in London. There isn’t yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.