What exactly is it? A new service offering a curated selection of classic dishes from Kentish Town’s destination cave à manger for you to heat and enjoy, lockdown-stylee, at home. Think French comfort food freshly prepared, sealed and carefully delivered to your door.
I’m peckish now. You should be. When Patron first opened its doors back in 2015 on a stretch of Fortess Road that was far from a sure thing, it proved something of a game changer. And timeless Francophile menu aside, it’s arguably still the best-looking dining room in NW5: big windows let the sun – and sunset – in, and there are simple tables, leather banquettes, flickering candles and wood floors. Best of all, the atmosphere is always strictly ‘bon vivant.’
So how does Maison Patron work then? Well, a menu of starters, snacks, mains and desserts, as well as cheese plates, charcuterie and sides, is now available to peruse online, with your choices arriving vacuum-packed (see below pic) in a small cardboard box. There’s an extensive wine list, too. Take your pick and order seven days a week for delivery on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between midday and 7pm. And don’t forget to dim the lights, spark up a candle and mix yourself a cocktail while you wait.
What do you recommend? Well, in the seven weeks of lockdown so far, we’d unbelievably not even enjoyed a takeaway or delivered meal. So we decided to spoil ourselves and plump for the full experience: three courses, as well as cheese and a good bottle of red.
What’s the verdict? In short, it’s super-easy to prepare – and delish to boot. At the moment there are only three mains: we ordered the two non-vegetarian ones (each dish requires less than ten minutes’ prep, mostly simple heating in the oven at 220 degrees). The process for the moules mariniere, for example, was the same as for supermarket mussels, although the flavour was of course a different level, with plump molluscs sitting pretty in an umami-heavy shallot broth.
The star main? Duck confit, its skin seared and glazed, which fell off the bone with the press of a fork. And an accompanying pot of red wine reduction was so lipsmackingly savoury that we really wanted to drink it neat. Sides were generous, too: a pile of buttery green beans and creamy, unctuous gratin dauphinois, with its notes of thyme, rosemary and heady garlic.
What else did you scoff? Salmon ceviche proved a simple starter, its flesh butter soft (note: the salmon dish is now beetroot-cured), while slices of meaty aged saucisson were gone in seconds. Fast forward to the end of the meal and the cheese trio, with slices of spongy sourdough, was a highlight: 18-month aged Comté, creamy Sardinian blue cheese Ovinforth and an – OMG – truffle-laced Pecorino. The hot, sweet and smoky chilli jelly made from Mexican chipotles was a total flavour bomb.
Wine? For us it simply had to be a Fleurie (£26), elegantly floral and fruity enough to flit between mussels, ceviche, duck and fromage. For a cheaper bottle, there are lots of choices under £20 and the list starts at £14.
Desserts? Bien sur. Confession: by this time we were filling up and had just enough room to devour the silken chocolate mousse, but cunningly saved our creme brulee, with its deeply vanilla-pod notes, till the following day. Don’t skip the five minutes it needs under the grill to caramelise its surface.
Anything else we should know? The team opened their second branch in Highbury a week before the lockdown – bummer, right? So by supporting Maison Patron you’re helping one of north London’s top restaurants survive, at least until all this is over.
Main image: Patron (PR)
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