Comptoir Gascon: Sausages And Romance At This Smithfield French Restaurant
The smaller, chilled-er (and cheaper) brother of Smithfield's Michelin-starred Club Gascon, there's a lot to love about Comptoir Gascon's southwestern French food.
Star dish: easily, by a French country mile, the Piggy Treats. The not-quite-charcuterie sharing board comes with slivers of ham and saucisson, sure, but also slices of confit sausage and velvety, crumbling chunks of black pudding. And beautifully crusty bread and a rich, peppery red wine, smiting us with the full force of Frenchness the restaurant has to offer.
Our main course of lamb is solidly good, the lamb pink and eventful in a way the pan-fried cod dish, with its bed of slightly slushy vegetables, doesn't quite manage. As you'd expect from a restaurant throwing back to French village life, meat's heavily on the agenda. Duck burger topped with fried foie gras, cassoulets, rabbit legs and duck fat chips feature largely, though there's a fraction more sympathy for vegetarians than you get in your average Gallic bistro.
It's romantic, in a non-smushy, unfloral way. The sort of romantic where you can talk in low voices and still hear each other, but the rest of the room's voices are just a soft buzz. Where the wine's decent-value and starts at prices reasonable enough to keep it flowing steadily through dinner. And where the food — the best of it, anyway (Piggy Treats sausage-fest, we're looking at you) — feels indulgent but informal, lending itself to tearing floury bread apart with your hands, sharing slices of sausage across a candlelit table. That's romance, and we stand by it.
It adds up to something our companion — who spends more meals in restaurants than most — claims was one of their best restaurant dinners in months. We're tempted to agree. Très bon.
Comptoir Gascon, 63 Charterhouse Street, EC1M 6HJ.
Last Updated 10 October 2018