03 June 2011
To misquote ex Galactic President Beeblebrox, this place is so hip it has difficulty seeing over its own pelvis; so cool you could keep a side of meat in it for a month. Just the place for three middle age suits to hang out, pretending not to gawp at the local attractions, tottering in their Jimmies and Loubs.
I’m old enough to remember when this part of Clerkenwell was a desert, grub- and watering- wise, which isn’t that old. Then His Royal Highness, King Fergus, opened St Johns, the Jerusalem Tavern followed a few years later, then Match. Now you can’t swing a cat without hitting a restaurant, bar or feeding-/watering- hole of some sort. None is so cool as Bruno’s Bistro.
The room is nothing special, although you can enter through the sub-zero entrance that is the Zetter Hotel, so as to prepare yourself for the wafting jazz-funk that envelopes the room. The kitchen is small and open, so that you can see BL at work, with his small brigade, and the large windows mean that the whole place feels light and airy, even when pretty full.
Starters were standard bistro style, with boudin blanc with peas and lettuce being especially good: a light, sausage shaped chicken mousse, offset by the richness of the peas upon which it perched.
One of our number knows BL, so we got a nice little in between course, a pre-main if you will: soft duck egg with parmesan. Heavenly. What with amuse bouches and pre-deserts, I really hope the idea of a pre-main doesn't catch on in more Michelin aspirational places.
The mains too were terrific, with the quail and broad beans and bunny wrapped in bacon, smeared with carrot puree, standing out. I am pretty sure that the waitress had told us that the special pasta was lamb’s sweetbreads, but the dish came with artichoke. No real matter, it was excellent anyway.
I am not usually a desert man, but I was told that the chocolate with caramel was excellent, and so it proved. Honestly, however, the salty chocolate caramel truffles at Magdalen are a step above. No mind, an honourable mention to BL for his marriage of chocolate, caramel and salt.
Overall, very good indeed: bistro food done to a high standard, in a jazz-funk cooled environment.