Last Updated on August 7, 2021
French cuisine with flair
Guillaume Desmurs, chef and patron of the Flying Frenchman in Newington Green, told me that food is primarily “a human business”. He is committed to sourcing food locally, sustainably, and ethically and his manifesto addresses some of the problems with a food industry that often pursues profit at the expense of sustainable methods of production. The Flying Frenchman combines the traditions of French charcuterie with world flavours in a way that is good for the mind, body and the planet.
The Flying Frenchman is a human business that forms a chain from the local people who provide the ingredients to the personable service from the all-French staff. All the food is locally sourced, from the vegetables to the fish from nearby Essex Road, and the deliciously refreshing rhubarb cider which is brewed on Holloway Road. Demurs assured me that I would be able to taste the benefits of the locally sourced ingredients. A Parisian, whose mother too was a restaurateur, the Flying Frenchman himself is steeped in French cuisine and has travelled the world using local ingredients to create traditional products.
We began our lunch sitting on the terrace, but summer rain soon drove us indoors. Seated beside large glass windows under high ceilings, we tucked into Camembert croquettes with a red wine and cranberry sauce. They were cooked to perfection; the crunchy and buttery batter providing a textural contrast to the smooth Camembert inside. The Camembert was light and not too rich, although I would recommend sharing the three croquettes between two people. The portions throughout the meal were of a generous size.
The menu invites diners to ‘share, or don’t’. We did. A second starter, pork and pistachio terrine, was moist and meaty and studded with nuts that added a contrasting crunch. It was paired with the signature rhubarb cider.
Beneath French flag bunting hung around the spacious and tastefully decorated restaurant with its open plan kitchen, we moved onto the main courses: mussels stewed in rhubarb cider with leek and homemade chorizo, and the Merguez pie topped with Herbes de Provence mash potato, aubergine and black olives. I am familiar with a white wine sauce with mussels, but the cider made for a sweet accompaniment to the spice of the chorizo. The frites served alongside were, as good fries should be, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
The Merguez pie, a particular source of pride for The Flying Frenchman (the restaurant originally opened with the Merguez pie and the pork terrine), was a highlight. There was a warmth brought by the spice, which paired well with a crispy and buttery mash. The aubergine and olives provided delicious accompaniment to the Merguez lamb sausage.
The wine pairing for the mains was well-judged. A fruity Domaine de Salvard Cheverny 2020 (a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon) paired beautifully with the mussels while the dry Cotes du Rhone Les Galets, Estézargues, 2019 was a smooth accompaniment to the mild spiciness of the Merguez pie.
Despite having hearty appetites, we weren’t sure whether we could squeeze in dessert. In the end, we did not regret it. The Baba au Rhum was the pièce de resistance. A deliciously moist and fluffy sponge cake, topped with coffee Chantilly was the perfect way to round off the meal. The Muscovado crème brulée was also executed with aplomb, creamy and not too sweet. Voilà!
The Flying Frenchman, from start to finish, provided creative and well-executed cuisine with friendly service. It is conveniently located, is a great choice for a satisfying lunch or dinner and, if I lived closer, would become a regular haunt. While many might have hoped to head to France this summer, I recommend heading to the Flying Frenchman instead.
The Flying Frenchman
11 Albion Rd,
London N16 9PS