New? It opened spring 2015, following on from the success of the owners’ (Jean-Francois & Tanzi) bistro Cafe Gourmand in Soho.
Where? 26 Fortress Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2HB www.patronlondon.com
On The Menu: The menu is typically French – you’ll find a selection of small plates to start offering the likes of frog’s legs, snails and steak tartare as well as a succinct list of main courses including mussels and coq au vin.
First Impressions: Straight away the restaurant had that neighbourhood feel, the sort of place that the locals go to and know they’re on to a good thing so come back time after time.
The Look: Set across one floor there is an open kitchen at the back and a small bar which, if we didn’t have work the next day, we would have sat at drinking red wine. Leather banquettes are joined by small tables, chalk boards announce the menu and wine racks line the walls.
What We Ate: Whilst all classic, there were just five main dishes and they didn’t jump at us as much as the small plates, so doing away with mains we just got to work on ordering the majority of the starters and tucking in. Crisp frogs’ legs and snails are a must – you are, after all, at a French restaurant. Steak tartare was topped with a silky, golden egg yolk and was given a kick with cornichons and a good spoon of Dijon. An oozing camembert arrived spiked with garlic, with a slightly charred skin, giving it a smoky flavour, luckily they didn’t hold back on the bread with which to scoop it up. The winner, however, had to be an onion crème brûlée – a sweet, crisp topping giving way to creamy, smooth caramelised onion custard. If you can get your head around the concept then make sure you order it. We finished with a Cafe Gourmand – a strawberry macaron was a highlight but the chocolate ganache was a little dry, although the mini crème brûlée had the perfect snap.
What We Drank: Ashamedly we chose Prosecco over a French wine.
Go With: If you can excuse the garlic/cheese breath then it makes for a sweet date restaurant, otherwise you need your pal, a couple of hours to spare so you can settle in, drinking, grazing and setting the world to rights.
Final Word: Would I go again? Yes definitely, it’s welcoming, the food is good and it’s got that French charm about it.