Casse-Croûte // Bermondsey // London

Being French, I love to find a restaurant that reminds me of home, which is exactly what Casse-Croûte does.  All of the team is French, they speak French with the diners and all food is French. The atmosphere is almost so real that you feel that you are actually in a Parisian bistro, but it takes more than scribbling the menu on a blackboard to make an authentic experience; the food needs to be up to scratch too.

Considering the price, I was expecting to the level of food that you’d find in Paris. Restaurants like L’Entredgeu or Ardoise are the benchmark. Firstly, you might not be impressed by the restrictive choice; three starters, three mains and three desserts. When the kitchen is trying to be this efficient with its cooking, then it needs to be turning out perfect plates. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as what you are served is simple bistro food with no hint of a twist.

The classic kidneys with a Madeira sauce are nice but the sauce is too thin; the dish is not refined. Served with two pieces of toasted bread, the more classic bistro approach would be to serve the kidneys in a hollowed out bread loaf, finished by toasting it in the oven. The sauce should be richer and thicker too.

For mains, there is only a choice of two if you don’t want a vegetarian meal. Though, the boeuf-en-croûte, which is the French version of the beef Wellington is cooked to perfection, which is rare in most restaurants in London. The mushroom duxelle is rich and the meat is velvety; this course is great. The other is a poulet de Bresse, façon vallée d’Auge, which simply was not cooked enough as it was served too pink, though the quality of the poultry is not in doubt.

The orange tart seems to be the signature dish at Casse-Croûte and I have to confirm that it is nicely done. Creamy and strong, while still light, and topped-off by a meringue; superb.

Though while Casse-Croûte has its ups and down, there is certainly some potential. However, they’ll need to elevate their small selection of dishes if they want to be more than just a neighbourhood bistro.

Without question, you’ll have an enjoyable time given the atmosphere, but the lack of choice might mean that you’ll pick to go somewhere else. We hope the buzz and competition in Bermondsey Village will drive-up standards. We look forward to seeing some bistro classics on future menus like a pavé-au-poivre flambé done at the table, or a cervelle d’agneau Grenobloise.

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