Patron Cave à Manger, located in the up and coming Kentish Town area, transforms North London into a French neighbourhood. Offering dinner Tuesday through to Sunday (with lunch on Friday to Sunday) and a hot-off-the-press brunch menu on weekends, there is plenty to enjoy at this chic French bistro. You may recognise the owners, Jean-François and Tanzi and their bilingual dog Pippin, who previously ran the successful Café Gourmand in Soho.
The intimate restaurant transports you to a 1920s Parisian bar, with jazz music accompanying the delightful service and high-quality food. The bistro is tout à fait French with rustic wooden tables and a winding booth-style sofa in the dining area while the charming marble topped bar with high stools is ideal for those who fancy a quick rendezvous and a verre de vin or two. The à la Carte menu has an array of small plates perfect for a light bite (consider traditional Garlic Escargots and adventurous Onion Crême Brûlée) and an array of French cheeses, while there are four or five main dishes displayed on the blackboard, changing seasonally. On a bustling Friday night, the waiter took time to explain each main to us, from its origins to its unique flavours.
We started the evening with a classic Kir Royale, arriving in quaint coupe glasses. We were drawn in by the unusual small plates and decided on a hot and cold combination of Salmon Tartare and sizzling Padrón Peppers, the latter presented on a hot plate chargrilled to perfection. Mixed with lemon zest, chives and a generous sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, the Salmon Tartare had an air of sashimi and a hint of Poké, the current Hawaiian food trend.
We moved on to classic French dishes Moules Marinieres and tender Duck Confit. Each main dish comes with a side of your choice, inclusive in the price of the main except for those with rich-tasting truffles. Don’t let this put you off though, as the truffle frites are divine and worth the extra £1.50. For those that can’t handle the unique taste, the frites with house aioli are perfectly crisp. The Tajine de Lapin is their newest dish, inspired by the owner’s recent travels to Marrakesh. Filled with plenty of spices, fresh herbs and a mix of prunes, oranges, aubergines and leeks, it’s particularly tempting and available for a limited time only. The open-style kitchen sources all its produce from local independent French producers, making it an authentically French dining experience.
Satisfied yet craving dessert, we moved on to the sweet dénouement. The Strawberry Macaron was a true oeuvre d’art, paired with a shot of strawberry and mint prosecco and a juicy strawberry alongside the rosé tinted macaron. Meanwhile, the Vanilla Crème Brûlée was impeccable, with a firm crunchy caramelised sugar shell and suitably soft and creamy custard filling.
This hidden gem is certainly one to watch, with events popping up frequently to entertain us English folk. Their Fête de la Musique takes place on Tuesday 21 June from 5-11pm with live jazz music, a BBQ and bien sûr fine wine. Bon appetit!
Words by Hannah Brandler