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L'Absinthe (Restaurant)

Picture of L'Absinthe in Swiss Cottage & Primrose Hill, London

40 Chalcot Road, Swiss Cottage & Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8LS
Cuisine: French
Tel: 02074834848 | Email to L'Absinthe | Transport: Chalk Farm | Write review

L'Absinthe Review

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Best for: brilliantly balanced French bistro cooking in the posher-than-posh Primrose Hill area of London.

Great: French service, French wine and, naturellement, French cheese.

‘av you ‘eard about ze French restaurant in Primrose ‘ill?

But of course! I ‘ear eet is somezing quite speciale?

Mais oui! Alle, alle, tout suite! Mange tout Rodney, mange tout…

(Je m'excuse. Mon GCSE Francais est pas de bon. Évidemment.)

Absinthe is not something I would ordinarily seek out. In fact, the vicious green liquid is something I would normally actively avoid. Its luminous glow strikes me as being comparable only to the nuclear substance Homer drops in the opening credits of The Simpsons. And, honestly, what good can come of drinking that? Look at them. They’re yellow!

However, I made an exception recently. Not for the jaundiced hue, or the actual drink (it was a week night and I’m getting old enough to suffer seriously with hangovers), but for an obscurely named French restaurant in posher-than-posh Primrose Hill: L’Absinthe.

Happily, my early scope-out of the menu online showed me that the namesake ingredient wasn’t present in much of the food (although there was an absinthe-infused crème brûlée which sounded both intriguing and terrifying). It looked good, and the staff had some impressive accolades, the sommelier having worked with the likes of Monsieur Blanc and Mr Pierre-White. So far, so bon.

On arriving, the restaurant itself looked promising. Perched on a corner and surrounded by towering plush pads, L’Absinthe is a petite bistro which wouldn’t look out of place in the backstreets of Paris. Inside it was charmingly ramshackle; small, with tables packed tightly. French accents were abound – both genuine from the staff and put-on by regulars practicing their vocabulaire.

One clumsy conversation in broken French later, and we had ordered. What seems novel is that, while it’s a bona fide French establishment, L’Absinthe is also committed to embracing local British produce. The menus change each week, the dashing Jean-Christophe (JC) tells me, but a regular feature is le salmon fume; smoked salmon from the nearby Chalk Farm smokery. You didn’t know Chalk Farm had a smokery, did you?

The salmon is divine. The chicken liver parfait? C’est parfait! We glugged a bottle of Cotes de Rhone. Main courses went down equally well: my duck confit on savoy cabbage was a triumph.

The food was incredibly well balanced, avoiding the pitfall of making everything overly rich as some glossier French restaurants are wont to do. It was delicious. Usually, I can find something I would change about a dish. But I couldn’t here.

Just when I thought I was too full to contemplate dessert, they found my weakness: fromage. I’ve been known to find fault in Michelin-starred cheese boards, and the quarter of me that is French can sniff out an unripe cheese at ten paces.

And yet, it was perfect. Four generous slabs of perfectly ripe, smelly, pillowy goodness. I’ve never contemplated marrying a cheese, but the Vacherin Mont d’Or might just be The One.

We rolled out the door full to bursting, au revoir-ing the staff like old friends and promising to return. It’s not often that I know for certain that I will, but my happy, rounded belly won’t let me break that promise. L’Absinthe, despite its dangerously potent namesake, is too good not to visit again.

And did I think better of eating my weight in stinky cheese as I trundled my way to the tube, my arteries ruing my love of the stuff? In the words of the utterly French Edith Piaf: Non, je ne regrette rien. more

Customer Reviews for L'Absinthe

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 L'Absinthe.

“I dined at L'absinthe at the weekend - and I honestly couldn't fault it. The beef bourguignon was delicious and I had a sumptuous chocolatey dessert. It's hearty, tasty food with a candle-lit, friendly atmosphere to boot. You can also buy the wines on their wine list for prices minus corkage to take away - so you can try before you buy! I'd thoroughly recommend it”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Hannah, Ipswich (5 years 5 months 13 days ago)

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L'Absinthe Opening Hours

Monday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm
Friday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm
Tuesday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm
Saturday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm
Wednesday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 4:00pm
6:00pm - 9:30pm
Thursday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 10:30pm

Additional Information

L'Absinthe Food & Drinks

L'Absinthe Food Menu

Dishes range from authentically French, such as snails, chicken liver salad, French onion soup to those with a London twist, including ‘Chalk Farm’ smoked salmon. Main courses are made up of typical French hearty homely food, with beef Bourguignon, duck confit, and rabbit casserole regularly on the menu. Starters from £5.25 - £7.50, Mains from £9.95- £18.00. Sweet wine & digestifs, tea & coffee also available.

Updated 19/10/2012

Item Description Price
Classic French Onion Soup Soupe a l'oignon £ 6.75
Chicken Liver Parfait, Red Onions Marmelade Toast Parfait de foie de volailles, marmelade d'oignons rouges, toast £ 6.25
Toulouse Sausage, Mash Potatoes, Mustard Sauce Saucisse de Toulouse, pommes de terre Lyonnaise, sauce moutarde £ 9.95
Corn Fed Chicken Breast, Brasied Red Cabbage, Blackcurrant Sauce Supreme de poulet au grain, choux rouges braises, sauce au baie de cassis £ 12.50
Beef Bourguignon, Rice Boeuf bourguignon, pomme puree £ 10.95
Selection of Framhouse Cheeses Selection de fromages fermiers £ 6.95
Apple Tarte Tatin, Clotted Cream Ice Cream Tarte tatin aux pommes, glace a la creme £ 6.25
Chocolate Cake, Coffee Creme Anglaise Marquise au chocolat, Creme anglaise au cafe £ 5.75

Food downloads

A La Carte Menu
Week Menu 16th to 21st October. To change weekly after this.

L'Absinthe Drinks Menu

We pride ourself on our well-chosen and kindly-priced wine list which also doubles up as a wine shop.
Mainly french but with some wines from around the world (not too many…), most of our wines are available in limited quantity in the UK and few are available in the shops. Good food, good wine, good company…what more do you need?

Updated 19/10/2012

Item Description Price
Champagne Alain Thienot 2005 Glass of Bubbles 150ml £ 8.50
Sauvignon De Touraine, Domaine JF Roy, Loire Valley 2010 175ml £ 5.00
Sauvignon De Touraine, Domaine JF Roy, Loire Valley 2010 Pot 46cl £ 14.00
Argento Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2010 175ml £ 4.95
Argento Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2010 Pot 46cl £ 13.50
Picpoul Du Pinet, Domaine Du Pinet, France 2010 Les Vins Blancs. Bottle. £ 21.00
St Aubin Ier Cru "Les Frionnes", Domaine Langoureau, Burgundy 2009 Top wines drink-in price:only wine shop price + £10.00 corkage. From shop £26.50. £ 36.50
Chateau Cantenac-Brown, 3eme Cru Classes, Margaux 2004 Grand Cru No Corkage. £ 79.00

Drink downloads

Wine List
A specially selected variety of great wines.

Special offers, discounts and deals at L'Absinthe

L'Absinthe's specials, always delivering the best at the best prices.

Updated 19/10/2012

Events and other great things going on at L'Absinthe

JC and the L’Absinthe team have developed their very own signatures from the wine list, which can be explored on Wine Lovers Tuesdays, with Thursdays seeing L'Absinthe celebrating all things beef.

Updated 18/10/2012

L'Absinthe Hire Details

Private dining room for a maximum of 24 guests seated, 35 standing, suitable for meetings, private lunches or dinners.

Updated 19/10/2012

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Venue ID: 15762

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"Hi guys, I come here with my friends and have very good time. I like your place very much and is very good times. I come back when I can soon. Thank you very much." Which venue is this?


"Dreadful pub, run by people who have zero idea about hospitality or running a pub. Upon arrival we sat in the back garden that only had one other table occupied , when we tried to order off the lunch menu..." Which venue is this?

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