In a world of fusion food, ‘deconstructed’ dishes and endless sharing plates, the Petit Pois Bistro in Hoxton Square has gone back to basics – with spectacular results…
Words: Vicky Mayer
Alistair Burgess, owner of Petit Pois Bistro in Hoxton Square, has teamed up with head chef Chris Smith to create the perfect French bistro in one of London’s best-loved locations.
Understanding that there’s only so many times you can queue up in the rain for something in a roll, here reservations are taken and you get to peruse a simple menu that smacks of Gallic authenticity. There are three choices for each course with classics like moules mariniere, duck confit and steak frites taking a starring role. When you’ve pared down a menu to this extent, it had better be good. And boy, was it.
Starters of French onion soup and moules mariniere bought a smile to our faces. The expertly seasoned soup took me straight back to Paris’ famous La Coupole restaurant while my partner declared the moules mariniere the best he’d ever tasted, mopping them up enthusiastically with the moreish warm sourdough.
While the menu might be classic French bistro, the interior décor with its bare walls, filament lights and charity shop paintings is classic Hoxton. Small and intimate, it’s easy to watch what your fellow diners are eating. And here comes the dilemma – steak, duck or the classic sole meuniere? All looked delicious.
In the end the steak and the sole got our vote while the lovely waiter helped us choose just the right wines by the glass (French, of course) to accompany the dishes. The steak is served medium rare, pre sliced on the plate so you know it’s been properly rested, together with skin-on chips.
It’s simple but cooked so well that you soon realise just how bad your home cooked efforts are. The sole was spot-on too, dripping in a lovely buttery sauce. Together with a generous side dish of pea shoots in delicate honey vinaigrette, it’s the perfect meal for pescatarians.
The volume on the table next to us notched up a rung as six very happy customers oohed and ahhed over the restaurant’s classic chocolate mousse
As we finished our main courses, the volume on the table next to us notched up a rung – as six very happy customers oohed and ahhed over the restaurant’s classic chocolate mousse. Served out of the sort of large ceramic bowl you see weekly on the Great British Bake Off, it’s a no brainer. Creamy and comforting, it’s what all puddings should be – ask for two spoons if you’re on a date that’s going well.
And the best thing of all about Petit Pois Bistro? It’s confidence – amazing food, a great atmosphere and the feeling that you’ll be back again and again….
Petit Pois Bistro, 9 Hoxton Square N1 6NU; 020 7613 3689; petitpoisbistro.com
Meal for two, including drinks and service, around £75