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Le Cafe Du Marche (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Le Cafe Du Marche in Clerkenwell, London

22 Charterhouse Square, Farringdon, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 6AH
Cuisine: French Average Price: £50.00
Tel: 020 7608 1609 | Transport: Barbican | Write review

Le Cafe Du Marche Review

I like books. I like books with ribbed, concave spines, their pages splashed with coffee or red wine, swollen with bath water. I like their words smudged with cigarette ash or make-up from holding it too close to my face on a packed early morning tube train. These books still have to be good, whether that means diverting, funny, edifying, or enriching. But I like to know that in my enjoyment of them, I can rough them up a bit, take pleasure in them without worrying too much about maintaining their appearance. I feel the same about restaurants.

First class service and tasty, inventive food are a must for me, and most other people, when it comes to rating a restaurant highly. But even the most well-cooked meal, the most exciting food, the most charming service, can be ruined, I think, by an uptight atmosphere, and a pretentious, precise and unwelcoming decor. For me, content and comfort will always rate higher than polished style. So imagine how glorious it was for me to walk into Farringdon's Le Café Du Marché last week.

I hadn't known what to expect. I'd guessed it was French and thanks to five years of comprehensive education, I was able to translate the name. The caff off the market. Not too swish, but then, as I've said, that's how I like 'em. My guest and I had walked from St Paul's, up through Smithfield's Market.

It was a warm evening and on Charterhouse Street we passed pubs where people had strayed out onto the streets. It was a very London summer, nice but nothing you wouldn't see elsewhere in Clapham, Soho, Hammersmith or Highgate. Then we spotted the sign for Le Café Du Marché, and followed it up a pretty mews that led to a prettier square.

Inside, the beams above gave it a rustic feel. Some of the paintings on the exposed brick walls were a bit cockeyed, and on the white linen-clad tables were small potted plants rather than long-stemmed cut flowers. The room was hazy, lit with awkward stubby candles. Without tasting a bite I sort of already loved it a bit.

So, to the food. A few days before my visit I'd read an interview with the executive chef, Simon Cottard, which said he'd been running their kitchen for 21 years. It would be hard to believe that any chef could keep their mojo, working in the same kitchen for that long. You'd have to ask Simon, but I reckon the key to his longevity is the ever changing dishes he's designing. The amount of items on the smallish menu ending with 'du jour' is phenomenal and the specials seemed to take a good 10 minutes to go thorough. They all sounded particularly delicious when read out by the waiter's French tongue.

Because of this, it's hard to tell you what you should order when you go (and you definitely should go). I had beetroot tarte tatin, which was great, but then you can't go wrong with beetroot, I reckon. My main was a meaty, gooey and seemingly endless lobster risotto. My guest's unbelievably thick cut beef special with snails kicked off a discussion about whether I (a non-mammal or chicken, but insatiable fish eater) could partake of an escargot myself. Answers on a postcard? In the end I decided not to, and my guest was more than pleased to devour them all alone, reporting perfection.

Le Café Du Marché offer two courses for £27.50 and three for £33.85 which, with quality this high, adds up to seriously good value. Those on a budget might like to know that the organic house wine is uncommonly nice, but those wanting to spend a bit more should move on to the perfumed Muscat desert wine with the tarte du jour (cherry, in my case) for a decadent yet homely way to end the meal.

The atmosphere created by our sophisticated, slightly older fellow diners, was jovial, not in the least bit stuffy, and their chatter buzzed alongside a talented pianist and double bass player stationed in the middle of the room. Elegant but welcoming, authentic and relaxed, intimate yet friendly, Le Café Du Marché has already been logged in my mind as a 'this little place I know' to impress friends with. And if none of those friends are around? I'd happily end alone with a big glass of wine, a plate of their gnocchi and a knackered paperback to get lost in. more

Customer Reviews for Le Cafe Du Marche

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Le Cafe Du Marche.

“Great meal deal! The loos are cool too with loadsa retro fittings.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Alex, London (10 years 8 months 7 days ago)

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