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|Address:||171 Mare Street, London E8 3RH|
|Tel:||020 8986 2702|
|Wine: £17.00||Champagne: £49.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 9am-10pm (Mon 5pm - , Fri-Sat –11pm)|
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Watching a good friend pull a cum face as she loads soft, crumbly, chocolate cake into her mouth makes me shift uncomfortably in my chair. Trying it though, it's not difficult to see why I was (briefly, until I started my own pud) wishing I was having what she was having.
It's not that Bouchon Fourchette is doing anything innovative to make us squeal, or that its genre-bending, future fusion food is turning our knees to jelly. This is more the lovely sensation you get watching something work, pretty much, as it should do.
It's a labour of true Gallic love. For the food, and the wine, and the insouciant atmosphere of a hundred and one small town bistros. God only knows why you'd try and recreate any of that on the most unloved part of Mare Street, but someone obviously felt that they were up to the challenge. Thankfully for the casually tattooed locals, they look like they might be.
Inside, you're snugly insulated from the roaring of Mare Street by the atmosphere, if not quite the ersatz decor. Concrete floors, cabinets half-inched from a house clearance yard and reclaimed 70's school furniture are fun, but closer to a supper club in an artist's studio in the 20th arrondissement than a ‘proper’ restaurant. Still, it is Hackney after all…
I'm sure there's a very specific European word for a menu that consists only of things you desire to eat immediately. Mackerel rillette, dense and well-seasoned with the fragrant tang of juniper berries, came with jewelled pomegranate seeds and slices of earthy brown loaf (unexpected and an improvement on the general standard sourdough). Densely lardy saucisson was more than adequate too.
Our main was a well-hung and gamey cote de boeuf, as well cooked as I've had for a difficult lump of cow such as this. Proudly carved table-side, and at £35 with sides for two people, one of the best priced cuts of steak I've had out for a very long time. The side of spinach arrived towards the end of the meal with a cheerfully shouted apology to our table by the kitchen for forgetting it, and I'm back in that supper club again.
Barely-together creme caramel whispered to me like a sultry French chanteuse, the minxy little temptress wilfully ignoring the fact that I looked (and sounded) like Mr Creosote after that Cote de Boeuf. Much as I love it, such a cliched dessert rarely lives up to expectation. This one did, and certainly made up for the fact I wasn't heading for a cocoa-based knee-trembler like my dining companion.
The wine list isn't seemingly one for experts, it's one for drinkers. A handful of bottles, all available by the glass or carafe too, with nothing that isn't fizzy over £35. They bounce casually around the world's wine regions and have obviously been selected by someone who had a bloody good night trying them all, rather than a suit seeking to maximise profit ratio.
Slight niggles? I'll give a shoulder shrug and a scowl for the need to pay for my bread. Lovely it might be (white baguette, natch) but it's not really done these days. I'd make a bigger deal of it if it wasn't offset by the pricing elsewhere.
Bouchon Fourchette doesn't exactly feel like a restaurant, and that may be its biggest strength. It's like being cooked for by unhurriedly fashionable friends with astonishingly good taste in food and wine. Get them to invite you round for dinner soon.