Saturday 10 January 2015

The Bonneville: Clapton on the move

Before we go any further, lets get the toilets out of the way. If you've never been to the London Dungeon, and lord knows why you would unless you have visited as a hapless tourist, you need no longer even consider it. Put that £17.50 back in your pocket; The Bonneville has it covered.

Some might call it naff, it probably is, but I liked it.  Descend the stairs and the dry ice gets to work: "smoke"; a cobbled street; all very spooky. Its like you've been on the Delorean with Doc Brown, transported from hipster heaven to Queen Vic's London, you could imagine Jack the Ripper walking past, dipping his cap, on the way to his latest misadventure. It all makes for quite a dramatic place to take a pee.

But back to upstairs: here things are much more Clapton 2014. Walls are stripped, men are mustached, braces are abundant. Despite this it feels cosy, a place you want to be. There is a lever espresso machine in the corner (a La Pavoni I would proffer), resplendent in brass. Beers are served by the 2/3 pint, a good selection of local craft, a pisco sour was lost in the making, just too sweet.


While the Bonneville may be very Clapton 2014, the menu is from a hidden brasserie in the Bastille. Resolutely Gallic. There are snails, but they lack the necessary punch. Where is the butter, let alone the garlic - they should be drowning. Here they feel like they've been on one of Channel 4's fat camps; transformed into a health food.

The tartiflette is much better, but still lacked a certain oomph.

We get to the cassoulet and at last the Bonnville starts singing.  The beans have done their job, rich and creamy, excellent sausage and bacon. This is what many look for but can often no longer find in Paris' never-ending brasseries; honest, rich, hearty, French cooking. The green salad is spiked with tart French dressing; a perfect bedfellow for the rich cassoulet.

There is also steak and frites: its fine, but hardly a destination dish.

There is no doubt you can eat better French food in London at a similar price.  But the Bonneville has something: it makes you want to snuggle up for the night. Outside is a place you don't need to confront for a while.  For you are safe in the arms of the Bonneville, another glass of red wine? Oh, okay, why not. Outside can wait a little longer.

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