With few exceptions, French food in London has long been associated with fancy plates of technically excellent but meagre morsels. However, a trip to The Bonneville in Clapton shows that our Gallic cousins are just as adept at comfort food as us Brits!
Serving a simple mixture of French and Belgian classics, the restaurant occupies a historic building on Lower Clapton Road and transports the visitor back in time with its striking décor inspired by turn-of-the century Parisian opulence.
The new dining destination features an eclectic range of salvaged materials that give a feeling of grandeur and decadence, including a feature bar constructed from old French railway carriages, a skylight from the old Metropole cinema in Victoria, and other features rescued from historically significant buildings such as Chartwell House (Winston Churchill¹s family home) and the prestigious ship, HMS Powerful.
Even a trip to the toilets is filled with drama, this time using old East End London as inspiration, with a dark passage filled with smoke and ethereal music, exposed cobbled bricks and a door salvaged from Clerkenwell prison.
In the kitchen is Head Chef Oly Launey (formerly of Moro and St John), who has created a menu of French and Belgian classics. Starters include everything from Terrine de Campagne with cornichons, to rich Brie & Gruyère Croquettes and Moules Marinière. The choice of mains features the kind of unashamedly bold flavours and generous portions that will guarantee a food coma, including Shoulder of lamb with pomme boulangere & samphire and Sea Bass with slow cooked fennel & rocket salad. If you've somehow still got room for sweet things then Crème brûlées and Chocolate tarts await you!
More than just a restaurant, The Bonneville also provides a wonderfully atmospheric setting in which to sink a few drinks. The cocktail menu is predominantly made up of classics, with home-made syrups and bitters adding a personal touch to a menu that contains the Bijou, Last Word and Vieux Carre. Additionally, East London's increasingly growing army of wine enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate a list that is seasonal and completely organic and biodynamic.
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £45
43 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, E5 ONS
Bookings: 0208 533 3301