I have written before on the life and death of legendary restaurants. In the area of Ebury Street Mimmo d’Ischia has fallen by the wayside and Ken Lo’s Memories of China virtually empty when I last visited. Yesterday an art collector friend of mine Sebastian invited me to La Poule au Pot founded in 1962 and still going strong. It’s the way of life that restaurants come and go. Bob Tickler ate at Olivo Carne nearby last Saturday and Mauro has set up 5 Olivo restaurants in this area over the last 25 years each doing well.
Poule au Pot is a restaurant famous for its warm quirky French kitchen farmhouse interior, camp waiters and reliable bistro food and bless it still purveying all three. Such a restaurant in this “quartier” sometimes suffer at lunchtime as it’s not an office area. Poule au Pot was possibly one-third full but it’s a large restaurant with a basement seating area upstairs, where we sat proximate to a number of diners, did not have that empty feel that drains a restaurant of any atmosphere.
The only criticism to make was the extreme discomfort of the wooden kitchen chairs. This could barely accommodate the British bottom and was hard and unyielding too. Some restaurants use such seating to move the diner on quickly. Here the idea was probably to maintain the kitchen farmhouse decor but the end result was the end was uncomfortable.
French bistro food is back in fashion and rightly so. I had a traditional onion soup with that necessary layer of cheese and magret of duck with foie gras poele. The menu is totally in French but the dishes are all traditional requiring no translation. I also liked the way veggies were included in the price. At mains between £20-30 you do not expect to pay for extra vegetables. Although I only had a glass of red wine I noted the wine list was priced sensibly too. I said to Sebastian that I enjoyed the fact that there were no business diners mainly couples. That and the interior of nooks and crannies made for an interesting and alluring atmosphere. It was too cold to eat on the outside tables but one could imagine in summertime I was in Montmartre with some romantic handsome French lover playing footsie under the gingham table cloth prior to an afternoon of amour!!! I wish!!!