Comptoir Gascon // Farringdon // London

Good things normally come in threes.  Chef Pascal Aussignac shows this is the case with his three eateries clustered around Smithfield Market: one to enjoy drinks and platters – Cellar Gascon, one for fine diningClub Gascon, and one somewhere in between for casual dinners – Comptoir Gascon.

Though le Comptoir is not just a restaurant, it, as its name suggests it’s a delicatessen as well. On offer is a selection of specialities from Gascony in the southwest of France, like duck and pork terrines, spicy Basque chicken, espelette pepper and much more.  There is also a nicely arranged bar stocked-up with good wine. The vaulted ceiling and old brick walls really make you think that you could be ion a vintner’s shop in the countryside.

Gascony is famous for its duck recipes, so it’s perhaps not the best place for vegetarians. If you want to go for an authentic meal, try the duck rillettes or the foie gras, or perhaps for something new the skewered duck hearts.  Not very common on UK menus, these little hearts are a tender delicacy.

For mains, the traditional Gascon dish is cassoulet, but for something lighter, you could try the “Basquaise” style squid. “Basquaise” means cooked with fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic and is a typical way to prepare a meal in the region.

All food is fresh and tasty, though it might need a touch more seasoning if you like to be heavy-handed with your salt.  The only real shame about le Comptoir is that not all the tasty products for sale in the delicatessen are not on the menu at one time.  Though, what is available you’ll really enjoy.  Don’t expect swift service, staff are relaxed and take their time, which suits the style of the restaurant.

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