Next up in the seemingly endless flurry of openings on Fortess is a casual French restaurant, Patron, from the couple behind Soho staple Cafe Gourmand, which today closes its doors. This, of course, follows both Bear + Wolf and Shoe Shop, the new incarnation of Soho institution Giaconda Dining Rooms.
But what’s interesting about this forthcoming addition is it’s at the Kentish Town (not Tufnell) end of the road. Taking over No 26, currently the Yuzu takeaway (and a couple of doors down from Baan Thai), this is a stretch that could still benefit from fresh ideas.
French-English owners Tanzi and Jean-Francois met 9 years ago at cheffing college. “We moved into Kentish Town in May 2013,” says Tanzi, “and just fell in love with the area. We talked about how wonderful it would be to open somewhere and couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a French shop of some kind yet, with all the French schools and French neighbours. So the moodboard began – and search for the ideal spot.”
More recently they’ve been putting in the hours on the finer details. “It’s been a whirlwind of excitement over the last few weeks, travelling through France in search of treasures for the opening of what we are calling our “cave a manger”. The name Patron means both a regular customer and the owner of a restaurant, so we hope to create a friendly and convivial place for our locals.”
Patron will serve small plates, charcuterie, saucisson as well as classics such as duck confit and steak tartare. “Alongside this we are currently applying for a drinks licence so we can compliment these dishes with some fine organic and natural wines,” says Tanzi. “Support for our application would be very much appreciated.”
Surely no-one would object to such a place? With its cute street-facing counter, decent espresso, Parisian classics, all-day license and Francophile soundtrack – in fact, on a recent visit, we Shazammed and then downloaded Yann Tierson’s L’Absente – we enjoyed Cafe Gourmand’s fin de siecle elegance, which hovered just the right side of too-cute.
Interestingly the new offer may not in fact be a million miles from that at nearby Shoe Shop – mashed-up avocado on toast, steak-frites, duck confit, onion soup. So we’ll have to see how it all pans out between this new generation of French-focused eateries.
And lest we forget, the vogue for a cute brasserie is hardly new round here: it started way back in ’78 with the arrival of the highly rated Le Petit Prince (now Troy Cafe) on that unlikely stretch, Holmes Road.