Evolution not a Revolution at Le Café du Marché:
In the days when I did a normal office job, Le Café du Marché just happened to be the closest good restaurant to one of my favourite suppliers. It’s an old haunt as a result, but one which, tucked away on the corner of Charterhouse Square, I haven’t been back to for years. Not for any sinister reason, simply that I’m seldom in that part of town these days. Much in the same way as a reunion with long-lost friends or family, I was childishly delighted to be invited back to review. Did I anticipate change? yes of course. Did I want to find change – if I’m honest, not really…
Inside, at least downstairs (I didn’t check the first-floor dining room), it looks just as it did 20 years ago. French bistro style tables, wicker chairs, mirrors and, something that I never noticed during the day, live music from an acoustic piano player and singer tucked away in the corner.
What should you choose in this kind of restaurant? I’d say old school classics are in order and both of us picked the kind of dishes that would have been part of a strange new world of culinary delights when I first ate here.
La Soup de Poisson came with croutons, cheese and rouille, a Provençal sauce made from red chillies, garlic, breadcrumbs, and other ingredients which you’ll typically find served with a bouillabaisse. A silky smooth fish soup that was rich and warming with plenty of shellfish, lobster and tomato flavours.
The substantial portion of zucchini parmigiana came with a dainty salad of rocket, parmesan
For mains, the Corn Fed chicken supreme came with bois boudran sauce, a rich herby tomato mixture and was served on seasonal runner beans
My côte de boeuf came with a delicious homemade béarnaise sauce and a side of fries and spinach. Perfectly cooked to medium rare, this is a cut which needs a little more cooking than my normal fillet steak to melt the considerable marbling.
Pear Tarte for me as dessert was a classic dish nicely executed, though they had run out of the promised vanilla ice-cream and instead brought chocolate (which I changed for a more suitable vanilla laced crème Anglais)
My companion found her crème brûlée a little heavy and I suspect the caramel topping was made from a melted sugar caramel rather than using a blowtorch. But, somehow we both managed to finish everything:)
Le Café du Marché is a classic restaurant with a retro feel, though it’s a place which does live up to its name by serving seasonal dishes. Cosy enough for a date night, this is also somewhere you could hold a business meeting or bring your parents. Refreshingly, the pricing is almost retro too – a starter will set you back £7-£9 while main courses are mostly around the £20. There’s a neat but comprehensive wine list, with house wines at just under £25 a bottle and the team will match your wine for you if you ask.
Le Café du Marché
22 Charterhouse Square,
London EC1M 6DX