Frenchie is probably one of the most talked about new openings in London, as the original outpost in Paris is always on all the must eat Paris lists.
I had never been to the one in Paris and had mixed feelings about trying the one in London after my disastrous experience at Le Chateaubriand in Paris, and the fact that Le Chabanais closed in London.
I had also heard very mixed reviews about Frenchie in London. My friend Kaleem went on opening night and was not impressed, while Angie Silver loved it.
I felt like I needed to figure it out and waited about a month post opening to go (It can always be a bit dicey, right when restaurants open their doors as the chefs and service need to get in their groove).
I went for a business dinner to Frenchie on a Friday night with some people who really appreciate food, and luckily, were willing to share everything and had no food restrictions. I had also noted several must eat dishes, but sadly these did not feature on our menu. I later heard that there may have been a different menu downstairs, which included the pork sliders that I was eager to try but were not on our menu upstairs.
I think that our overall experience was somewhat damaged by our waiter who wasn’t very friendly and could not communicate the dishes accurately at all. When we asked if the foie gras was a pâté or terrine or whether the actual liver, he looked at us as if we were aliens speaking gibberish.
What we ate:
Bacon scones: they serve two small scones per portion with a side of whipped clotted cream. The scones were tasty and warm but the clotted cream was a bit too sweet, especially as a snack right when the meal has just begun. It made me wish that we had it for dessert instead. Once we sprinkled a bit of salt on the clotted cream it made it better.
Veal and scallop tartare: I had heard this dish was good and it was indeed, though it lacked a bit of salt. The perfectly cubed veal and scallops were tossed with Parmesan, hazelnuts and presented in a miso dressing, a unique combination of flavours that worked very well. I would have diced the veal a bit smaller though.
Roasted carrots and vadouvan: with madjool dates and barley. They roasted various colours of carrots and served it on top of the creamy barley. A nice dish but slightly sweet.
Duck foie gras: served as a round terrine with rhubarb and beetroots. Another sweet starter but that’s expected from foie gras. It was good but the foie terrine was slightly stringy and I didn’t love that.
Smoked lamb ragu pappardelle: with confit lemons and Kalamata olives. Despite my hatred of olives, in particular black ones, I decided to be an adult and not ask for them to be removed out of respect to my dinner companions. In the end the olives were not overpowering and the lamb was perfectly cooked and the overall dish was very tasty. My only complaint was that it was slightly too oily. (I can’t stand it when there is a big puddle of oil remaining on your plate at the end of a dish.)
Linconshire guinea fowl: with vin Jaune (yellow wine?) sabayon, snails (couldn’t find them) and black pig ham. The guinea fowl was well cooked and it was another good dish, once again with a certain sweetness to it.
Ibaima pork: cooked in a salt crust with grains and chickpeas. The pork was perfectly cooked and tender and the grains were nice.
The dessert menu is tiny, three options plus cheese.
Banoffee: such a misleading name as banoffee is usually one of my favourite desserts and this was a firm mousse/foam of green tasting banana. An insult to the original! Plus, they may have used all the sugar available for the starters and mains and the desserts lacked sweetness.
Sorrel with granny smith and matcha: I can’t appreciate conceptual desserts with plants as ingredients and this one didn’t change my mind. Sour, weird and left me unsatisfied so I devoured a chocolate on my Uber ride home. I am a sucker for Matcha anything but the only thing matcha in this dessert was the bright green color.
In sum: as I am writing this review I am starting to think that I enjoyed my meal more than I recalled but for some reason I don’t have an immense desire to go back. Some of the dishes were good and I could go back to try the downstairs menu (if there is one) and then walk to one of the good ice cream places in Covent Garden for dessert in the future. But for now, there are too many other places in London I like better and until I solve the two menu mystery and can make sure the dishes I want to try are on the menu, I will give it some time.
They don’t post the menus on their site and supposedly change them often as well, so it could well be that those dishes have been rotated out. The menu is small and we tried three of the four mains and a lot of the starters, apart from some of the snack dishes such as the crab toast.
Frenchie London http://www.frenchiecoventgarden.com/