Some diners are moving away from Haute Cuisine – even in France. This is not unusual. In the restless world of food there is a constant movement with trends, often dictated by celebrity TV chefs, who come and go. And the new trend, surprisingly (since it’s been around forever) is bistro food.
Bistros have their origins in Paris, where owners found they could supplement their income by serving food to their lodgers from their kitchens. Because the quarters in the kitchens were so cramped the owners added tables and chairs outside on the footpaths to accommodate more customers and supplement their income.
So, now bistros are back in fashion, albeit in a different guise – more modern, somewhat more elaborate, but under the banner of the bistro, nonetheless. More often than not, the food is good, sometimes even exceptional.
A good example is Racine in Knightsbridge which once you visit might just become ‘your French restaurant in London’. Reviews of this bistro are excellent and because of its popularity, you should book early. Racine was recently rated one of the top five bistro restaurants in London. It is also regarded as the best bistro this side of the Channel.
Anyway, at Racine, the menu takes centre stage and not the decor. The accent is on food rather than enchanting chandeliers.
When you go there, you’ll discover the steaks are perfectly underdone, the fish is fresh, the mash is fluffy (that’s already enough to persuade me I am in culinary heaven!) Add to this is the fact that the chips are crispy and life is good all around.
Chef Henry Harris certainly spreads his net wide when sourcing his ingredients: Lincolnshire smoked eel, Alsace bacon, hams from Bayonne, ham and belly from Pyrenean black pig, diver-caught scallops from Orkney and rock oysters from Maldon. Oh, by the way, if you like garlic: their garlic mousse served with shellfish and saffron is delicious.
Racine is still, mercifully reasonably priced. Well, the prices won’t make your eyes water, at any rate. Starters are roughly £5, and a main course around £10.