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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Assiette Anglaise - A French Neighbourhood Gem!

Words & Photography by Felicity Spector and Luiz Hara

**THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED DOWN**

Name: Assiette Anglaise

Where: 489 Liverpool Road, London N7 8NS, 020 7609 0300, http://assietteanglaise.co.uk

Cost: Surprisingly affordable with starters at £7 on average, main courses between £12 and £17.50 and desserts at £6.

About: Assiette Anglaise is a lovely neighbourhood restaurant, in the slightly hidden away site, which used to house Morgan M (now based in Smithfields reviewed here). Its head chef, Matt Tarantini, who took over in October 2013, has a great pedigree - formerly cooking at Elliot’s, Hibiscus, and Odettes. It serves dinner from 6-10pm Tues to Sat, and brunch from 9am-4pm at weekends.


What We Ate: We knew we were in safe hands as soon as the bread arrived, a beautifully flavoured baguette made from sourdough and buckwheat, from the specialist French supplier La Boite au Pain. Alongside, a spiky dish of tapenade and some fresh, vibrant olive oil. A great start.

There was a huge choice of charcuterie and terrines: this is clearly a place that knows its meat. Luiz bravely chose the crispy pigs head terrine (£6), and the steak tartare (£8). Both were exemplary: the crispy fried cubes of terrine were surprisingly light, the meat inside was rich without being too fatty, balanced by a piquant sauce gribiche on the side.



The huge portion of tartare, astonishingly well priced at £8, came with an egg yolk in the shell, and toasted baguette - it was silky, moist and very well seasoned.

Fantastic steak tartare at Assiette Anglaise

For the main course I chose the ricotta gnudi with pumpkin, chestnut and sage (£12): all my favourite ingredients on one plate. The gnudi - basically a sort of potato-free gnocchi - were delicious: plump little cylinders, the sweetness of the pumpkin and chestnut offset cleverly by the sage sauce. One of the most satisfying vegetarian dishes I’ve had in a while - and all praise to the kitchen for not resorting to the usual mushroom risotto.


Luiz had the bouilabaisse with crab rouille (£17.50), which arrived with plenty of seafood in a tomato-rich sauce: a generous pile of creamy crab on some toasted baguette balanced on top. It was hearty and warming, well spiced and perfectly cooked. We shared some garlicky kale and soft, sweet roasted parsnips on the side - both a very reasonable £3.


From a short selection of desserts we chose the rather spectacular mille feuille with almond cream, toasted nuts and caraway plums, (£6) and a slightly disappointing chocolate tart (£5), the only dud note of the evening - the water based ganache was beautifully smooth but not nearly sweet enough, while the pastry could have been crisper. The accompanying star anise custard, however, was a triumph, particularly with some of the plums stolen from my companion’s plate.


What We Drank: We began with a French Martini (£6) - a refreshing vodka based concoction with just a hint of bitterness, made from Chambord liqueur and pineapple juice that got the evening to a very good start.

Champagnes start at a very reasonable £45 per bottle of Philipponnat Champagne, or £32 for a bottle of Vouvray La Dilettante from Domaine Champalou, NV which is a Cremant (French sparkling wine from other areas of France beyond Champagne). These are very reasonable prices for a restaurant of this caliber.

With my steak tartare, I had a glass of 2010 Galets Rouges from Château Mourgues Du Gres in Rhone. This is an organic wine from old Syrah grapes, it was full bodied, and well structured and again very well priced at £25 per bottle.

To accompany the bouillabaisse, I opted for a glass of 2011 Réserve De Gassac from the Languedoc (£25 per bottle), this was a lovely blend of Viogner and Chardonnay which worked really well with the fish and seafood main.


Likes: The décor was light and bright, with tables on either side of a long central bar, which worked well in the narrow space: the staff were really friendly, and everything we ate was expertly cooked. There was a wide range of dishes on the menu, all very well priced - and unlike many French restaurants, vegetarians won’t go away disappointed. The wines are mostly available by the glass as well as the bottle - offering plenty of choice.

Dislikes: I’d have preferred a slightly sweeter, more indulgent chocolate tart.

Verdict: Assiette Anglaise is a great neighbourhood restaurant that’s also worth crossing town for. They really care about the quality of their produce, as well as the cooking: in short, Assiette Anglaise is the kind of place that everyone would love to have at the end of their street. Highly recommended.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds good. Reference to Morgan M Smithfield needs a tweek since it's closed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gavin, it is only temporarily closed, it will be re-opening in 2014, fear not.

      Delete

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