After selling off his interests in the restaurant group now known as D&D (think Le Pont De La Tour, Butler’s Wharf Chop House, Quaglino’s…), Sir Terence Conran set to work on a new pet project — The Boundary. A cross-purpose complex in Shoreditch, the finished article includes a hotel, cafe and deli alongside the flagship Boundary restaurant itself.
We were recently invited down to try their newly launched weekend lunch menu, which offers well-priced brunch dishes such as Ouefs Bénédicte and Croque Monsieur starting from just £7.50, alongside the regular menu of French classics.
First impressions are made before even getting close to the food. An unelaborate, almost grim concrete stairwell that has every element of multi-storey car park bar the smell of urine, leads down to a juxtaposed plush bar area. It conjures the feeling of being taken to a wealthy Bond villain’s lair, and despite a want to say it’s just a bit too try-hard-trendy in an oh so Shoreditch fashion, we have to confess to rather liking it.
So effective is it, in fact, that we can’t help but stop off for a seriously spicy and richly flavoured Shoreditch Bloody Mary en route to our reservation.
The main area could be described as a warehouse made up for fine dining, and this encapsulates well the laid-back, chatty atmosphere of the room that benefits from impeccable old-school service without suffering any of the associated stuffiness.
Dishes are of the classic French ilk: rich and extravagant. An earthy omelette aux truffes which doesn’t hold back on the truffles, is an unctuously gooey stand-out, though (understandably) a fair bit more than the entry-level dishes at £17.50 a pop.
The set menu, alternatively, offers two courses for £19.50 or three for £24.50. Here, a starter meat platter of charcuterie, rillettes, terrine and paté, not to forget some fantastically fluffy homemade bread and the essential cornichons, is equally indulgent. Having it plated up direct from the ‘meat trolley’ at the table is a well-rehearsed and well-received theatrical gesture that wins the venue a few extra brownie points.
A crispy-skinned, melting fleshed Duck Confit also comes tried, tested and highly recommended, though in the interests of saving room for a pudding such as the generously portioned and lavishly caramelised Tarte Tatin, it’s worth going easy on the accompanying Gratin Dauphinois, in which it doesn’t bear thinking about the quantity of cream used.
Although the classic French food is less daring than the decor, our experience showed Boundary to be without fault. Whatever you order off the menu, you’re likely to eat very well indeed. Show just a little restraint, though, and you can spend reasonably little. All the more to spend on the bar afterwards.
Disclaimer: We were invited by the restaurant to try the new weekend menu for free.