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Fṛm Đ Obzrvr │ Les 2 Garçons, London: ‘Designed specifically to be your comfort zone’ – restaurant review

Les 2 Garçons, Lundn: ‘Dzînd sṗsificli t b yr cumḟtzon’ – resṭront rvy

(Transcription of an editorial published in the Observer on 22 May 2022)

Ɖs z a clasic Frenć bistro gaṛntìd t spred dlît

Jay Rayner

Je Rênr, Súnde, 22 Me 2022

Les 2 Garçons, 143b Crǎć Hil, Lundn N8 9QH (0208 347 9834). Startrz £8.95-£12.50, mênz £16-£30, dzrts £8, wîn fṛm £25 a botl

Ol resṭronts atract trîbz, n hir at Les 2 Garçons a vri ptiklr trîb hz cm ǎt t ple. W cn rīć fr obtys yḟmizmz f w lîc, mangl ɖ lanḡj in srć v oriɉnaḷti, bt “ɖ ćaṭrñ midl clasz” priti mć cuvrz it. Phps ɖe hv a sbscripśn t ɖ LRB ɖt ɖe wuri ɖe d’nt rīd inuf v, or a membrśp t ɖ Royl Acaḍmi ɖt ɖe fir ɖe d’nt yz az reğlrli az ɖe śd.

‘Garlic butter made with fields of fresh herbs’: escargot. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer
‘Garlic butr md wɖ fīldz v freś hrbz’: escargot. Foṭgraf: Sfīa Evnz/Ɖ Obzrvr

Ɖe ador BBC Redio 4, apart fṛm ɖ 6.30pm coṃdiśoz, ẃć ɖe nvr laf at. Ɖe luv gd cofi n wel-md sǎrdou. Ɖe dsper v ɖ guvnmnt, hop Cir Starmr z ɖ riyl ʈñ n fanṭsîz abt gwñ on hoḷde t Frans. Francli, ɖ’d g ɖr mor reğlrli f sć bhevyr dd’nt mc ɖm fir ɖt, wɖ ej, hd cm intrenćt habits. Ɖe mt wel b dǎn t onli wn v ɖer ǒn hips. Ɖe r ɖs nyzpepr’z rīdrz. Ǒ, sod it. Ɖe r m.

Ɖs tîni Frenć bistro, tuct in at ɖ botm v norʈ Lundn’z Crǎć Hil, hz jst 22 sīts. Ɖr r bér florbōrdz, net crtnz hafwe p ɖ windoz n a lot v blacbōrdz fr ɖ scriḅlñ p v bgîlñ speślz. It cd hv bn dzînd wɖ bʈ ɖm n m in mînd. It z a prfict xpreśn v ǎr luv fr a srtn cnd v clasic, unfusi bt luśs Frenć cc̣ri, lūbṛcetd bî gd butr, pǎrd bî ćopt garlic n fistfuls v freś grīn hrbz. Evri meny dscripśn cunjrz p an imij v hǎ hapi y wl b ītñ it. Nt a sngl wn lets y dǎn. Ɖ diśz hir cd hv bn srvd at eni tîm ovr ɖ prīvịs nîn decedz. Ɖe jst mt nt olwz hv bn qt so gd.

It’s ẃt y wd xpct v ɖz tū ptiklr garçons. Śef Roḅt Rìd hz clasicl Frenć ćops forjd in ɖ gretist v Frenć cićnz: h cct at Roger Verge’z Moulins de Mougins on ɖ Riviera, at au Crocodile in Strazbrg n Joel Robuchon’z Jamin in Paris, bfr rtrnñ t Lundn. Ɖr, h bcem hed śef at Marco Pier Ẃît’s Ocrūm ẃn it hld ʈri Michelin starz. At ɖ Ocrūm h met Jean-Christophe Slowik, a frunt-v-hǎs vetṛn hu hd wrct at Le Manoir n at Harvi’z, Pier-Ẃît’s orijinl lōnćpad, bfr oṗnñ hiz ǒn nebrhd resṭront, L’Absinʈ, in Primroz Hil. Ɖz c’rirz r acin t ɖoz v vetṛn gitarists n beisists hu, btwn ɖm, hv pleid wɖ Yes n Soft Mśīn, Pnc Flôd, Jeʈro Tul, Cñ Crimzn n Jeṇsis: les monstrz v roc ɖn monstrz v stoc.

‘In its prime’: asparagus. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer
‘In its prîm’: aspaṛġs. Foṭgraf: Sfīa Evnz/Ɖ Obzrvr

Ɖs īvnñ ɖ rūm z fl, īvn ɖo it z onli a litl aftr six. Ɖ dînrz sīm dlîtd t b ɖ frst sitñ, srtn in ɖ nolij ɖe cn d ɖ fl resṭrontʈñ n stl b bac hom bî 8.30pm, djstñ dinr ẃl slumt in frunt v BBC4. Slowik, custmri scarf taid at hiz nec, wrcs ɖ teblz wɖ olmst comic Galic ćarm, dpoẓtñ glasz v kir wɖ jst a bluś v cassis, n tōcñ p ɖ blacbōrd speślz. Rìd z olso ǎt hir, pleyñ ruśgoli, blu n ẃît strîpt epṛn ovr hiz ẃîts, Marco-stîl. H tecs ordrz n dlivrz diśz fṛm ɖ cićn at ɖ bac, ẃr ɖr r a cupl v uɖr ccs. It z a tît oṗreśn, az it nīdz t b wɖ so fy teblz. It trnz ǎt ɖt uɖr nyzpeprz olso hv resṭrontcritics. Hu ń? Wn v ɖm hd jst stumbld upn ɖ ples. I asc Slowik f ɖt’s ẃ it’s so fl so rli. No, h sz. It’s bn lîc ɖs sins ɖe opnd in ɖ ōtm last yir. It jst filz p a litl qcr nǎ.

So ẃt dd w īt? Ǒ, y nǒ. Ol ɖ gd stuf. Snelz r srvd ǎt v ɖ śel, in a firsmli hot dimpld cast-ayn tre, wɖ garlic butr md wɖ fīldz v freś hrbz, mor torn ɖn ćopt. W r gvn a brǎn pepr bag v slîst worm bgét ɖt qcli bcmz a viycl fr ol ɖ hrbi butr. Fṛm ɖ speślzbōrd cmz aspaṛġs in its prîm, wɖ a saḷd v freśli podd piz in a dresñ v lemn n trufl. D I nīd tel y ɖr r olso duc rillettes n steic tartare n an uńn sūp graṭnetd wɖ maximm intnt? Na, y wd hv wrct ɖt ǎt.
‘Impeccable pedigree’: chicken breast. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer
‘Impecbl peḍgrī’: ćicnbrest. Foṭgraf: Sfīa Evnz/Ɖ Obzrvr

A proprli crispt leg v duc̦onfit slumps intu a bed v ẃît bīnz n lardnz, wɖ a litl saḷd t hlp y sǒc p ol ɖ luvñli sać̣retd animlfats n mc y fīl ɖt yr dayt z baḷnst. A ćicnbrest v impecbl peḍgrī z prizntd in a limpid broʈ v vejtblz wɖ, t hlp it ol alñ, a raṃcin v sōs gribiche, ɖt briłnt egi sōs wɖ musṭd n cornichons n so on, ẃć impruvz most ʈñz. W cd hv hd steic frites wɖ béarnaise sōs or rost sìbas wɖ ny ptetoz, or śerd a rost leg v Piṛniyn lam wɖ a gratin dauphinoise n wîld muśrumz. W cd hv dn ol v ɖt, bt w dd’nt.

Aftr ɖ dis’pôntmnt v ɖ clumẓli md rumbaba at ɖ LaLee a fy wīcs bac, it z a jô t hv ɖ riyl ʈñ, md bî a man hu hz bn mcñ ɖm fr hiz intîr wrcñlîf. Ɖ tōl mufin v a savarin hz xacli ɖ rît, lît txćr. It hz bn sǒct inʈyziasticli in siṛp n split vrticli dǎn ɖ midl so it lîz nǎ on its bac, srendrd. Rum hz bn add n ɖen ignîtd so ɖt ɖ diś sits bfr m wɖ guṭrñ blu flemz. Ɖ scūp v crème Chantilly mlts jntli in ɖ hīt. A milcćocḷt mùs, dotd swītli wɖ a rñ v butnz, z a rmîndr ɖt a ćocḷtpot dz nt olwz hv t b a darc, dns ʈñ ɖt sucs ɖ vri lît fṛm ɖ yṇvrs.
‘Exactly the right, light texture’: rum baba. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer
‘Xacli ɖ rît, lît txćr’: rumbaba. Foṭgraf: Sfīa Evnz/Ɖ Obzrvr

Ɖ wînlist z a p’red v botlz fṛm Brgndi n Alsace, ɖ Languedoc n ɖ Rhône. It z an intîrli unṣprîzñ c’lex́n. Ẃć z ɖ pônt v a resṭront lîc ɖs; indd, v ɖ intîr tṛdiśn v ẃć it z a part. A tru bistro z nt ɖr t s’prîz or dazl. It z nt mnt t ples y ǎtsd yr cumḟtzon. It z dzînd sṗsificli t b yr cumḟtzon. Les 2 Garçons z abt az cmplit n dlîtfl an xpreśn v ɖt az I hv cm acrs in a vri loñ tîm.

Instroduction to Ñspel