It’s been good to see the (mainly) positive reviews and general happy chatter that has accompanied the opening of Sardine and Petit Pois Bistrot in the last few months. For a while back there it looked like the future was going to consist entirely of pimped up American ‘dude food’ all washed down with ever hoppier and extreme craft beers so it comes as a pleasant surprise to see French food back in the spotlight.
Not ‘modern’ French or ‘Bistronomy’ but classic French regional cooking – food that would put a smile on the face of Elizabeth David. Good ingredients treated well and no ‘twists’ or ‘takes’ on tried and tested dishes that add little to the finished article.
On my visit to Sardine i was pleased to spot above the pass a library of cookbooks, clearly used, books I have on my own shelves authored by the likes of Richard Olney, Patricia Wells, Caroline Conran et al. – a list of old friends. As i took my seat i knew i was in capable hands: if the guys who are cooking my dinner tonight are reading those books then i’m in for a cracking meal.
A recent poll by OpenTable suggested that two fifths of UK restaurants were now ‘concept’ restaurants – whatever that means – one commentator included in the piece spoke of “immersive experiences” which sounds like it could well give you the bends. Yes, a restaurant needs to have a clear, but not necessarily unique or original, offering, but ever sillier contrivances are not adding anything to my restaurant experience.
So less concept and more cooking please and as Sardine and Petit Pois Bistrot have proved you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!