So what’s the deal? The weekly Menu Du Marché costs just £15 for two courses from a chalked-up blackboard at this laidback new opening on Regent’s Park Road. It’s the second branch for the “bistronomic” French gaff that has expanded from Exmouth Market to the spot occupied for a few years by the decent Negozio.
Convivial atmosphere? Nailed it. Bottles of wine line shelves on the right as you enter, and, on our visit, Jane Bain’s attractive paintings of plump pears adorned the walls. Tables are cosy (ie. a little small and cramped) but sociable. And it’s dog-friendly at the front, which allowed us to strike up a conversation with a Jack Russell-loving couple next to us.
Talk us through things. Swerving the a la carte – not to mention the £39 tasting menu – at typically pricey central London prices, we were pleased that the bargain two-course market menu changes a bit every few days (when a new dessert or starter will come on, for example, said the waitress).
Both our courses were exemplary: ravioli stuffed with artichoke cream, in a clear broth, yielded a deep umami aftertaste, and was a pleasure to look at. A generous starter plate of charcuterie piled high with six or seven meaty cuts offered varying notes of spice and fennel, a slab of chunky terrine and gherkin adding texture and contrast.
Our mains? Arguably even better: swerving a rather obvious bavette, we devoured cod “a la parissienne”, whose thick opaque flakes melted into a vivid dark green puree of beans with edamame, baby onions and lettuce. Tip: it’s even more of a delight mopped up with sliced discs of sourdough (and – go on then – butter).
To drink? There’s free bottled tap water. The booze is not bargainous, let’s be honest, it is NW1, after all, yet not too ruinous either for this part of town. Cheapest bottle is £24: we guzzled a Loire gamay (£29), perfect with fish.
Any extras? Unlimited bread, or so it seemed: two small baskets of spongey sourdough came out in succession at no extra cost.
Busy? It was a Friday night, early doors, so not crazy when we sat down, but bumpingly full as we left.
When is it? Daily, with no restrictions, or so said the waitress, but best to check if you book.
Other offers? A lunch special every day is £9, but again, check before you visit.
Our rating: 8/10.
Main image: PR