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40 Chalcot Road
True to its name, there’s something addictive about L’Absinthe. Set up in 2007 by exuberant expat Burgundian Jean-Christophe Slowik (who worked with Marco Pierre White for 20 years), this neighbourhood brasserie has won over the locals with its homespun appeal and quirky charms. It’s a fine spot for dinner with friends, particularly as the menu lines up unfussy bourgeois staples with some impressive wines – many offered at retail price (plus £10 corkage). Leeks vinaigrette with poached eggs or marinated herrings with potato salad might give way to beef bourguignon, cod fillet with ratatouille or confit duck with braised red cabbage and baby onion sauce. And with crêpes Suzette or absinthe-spiked crème brûlée to finish, it’s all highly reassuring. Next door is the Spirit of Absinthe, a café and deli/bar where you can drop in during the day for drinks and snacks.
Best restaurants in Primrose Hill
40 Chalcot Road
Chalk Farm Tube Station 441m
Camden Town Tube Station 756m
London Film Makers' Co-Operative 212m
London Zoo 270m
Tues-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sat-Sun -4pm) 6-10.30pm (Sun -9.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
I'm updating my review from one year ago (below). I'm slightly sad that there have been no reviews since that date. However, for once, I totally agree with the Squaremeal description of the restaurant, which I think is more or less spot-on.
Primrose Hill is lucky to have this soi-disant “bistro du coin”. As such is totally meets the description as well as being authentically gallic. I recently took my wife, two sons and their long-term girlfriends there to celebrate the youngest's 27th birthday. Everyone was in a good mood and the whole evening complemented it, from the well executed Cote de Beuf which two people shared, to the more usual staples (see below). My wife had salmon on a bed of carrotts and leeks which she enjoyed and I had the boeuf bourgignon which, while setting no trends or being worthy of paroxyms of praise, “did what it said on the tin”. The wine which was at the cheaper end of the list did not disappoint and the service was as usual familiar, warm, humourous and endearing.
My wife and I live locally and we have been here a number of times. Initially, I felt that the food did not match the good idea regarding the way wines are priced. Nominally, the wines have uplifts of £5, £10 and £15 over the retail price depending on quality. I have to say that I'm not sure that the uplift is on the wholesale prices (go compare with wholesale equivalents)… but still results in a reasonable outcome.
The food is fine, not great, French bistro food. The Cassoulet being my own favourite, though purists might think that it is not fatty enough (which is a plus for me !). Where this restaurant scores heavily is with the staff who are authentically Gallic, but not of the snotty variety, and the atmosphere which is normally really quite busy (in a nice way) and warm (in a spiritual way). This is the sort of place where friends can meet, drink, argue, debate, laugh and – possibly – celebrity spot. It has stood the test of time (which the White Truffle and other predecessors on the site have not) and I suspect that it will continue to be one of those pleasant and unpretentious, accessible sort of places for some time to come.
Food + drink: 2
Been a couple of times now. Service always great, very welcoming & attentive. Food is average. Traditional french onion soup was nice, desserts not great. My friends' ordered a pear tart that wasn't thoroughly cooked so they sent them back. On a previous visit I ordered tarte tatin and the taste was a bit bitter, as though the sugar had been burnt. A real celebrity hotspot, we saw 4 big names in one night! A real hidden gem, very romantic & cosy, would be perfect if the cooking standard was a bit higher.
Food + drink: 5
I have been to L'Absinthe twice with friends and in both occasions food, drink and service excelled.
Not only were all of our dishes perfectly cooked and presented (and please bear in mind I lived in France for a period of time and I'm extremely picky with my food!), but the attention to detail – i.e. help in chosing your wine only after you have ordered your food and not being necessarilly offered the most expensive bottle on the menu – is one of the best I have experienced in London so far.
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