10 London restaurants to visit when restrictions ease

Frenchie

Douglas Blyde says: “Baring pipes and girders alongside a glowing bar, oddly sited fireplace, and positive playlist from the Paris original, Frenchie is the Covent Garden bistro by Gregory Marchand. Raised in a Nantes orphanage, Marchand went on to cook at London’s Savoy Grill, Mandarin Oriental hotel, and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, where Oliver nicknamed him “Frenchie”. On Paris’ Rue du Nil, he founded the bijou Michelin-starred Frenchie restaurant, Frenchie To Go (deli and smokery), Frenchie Wine Bar, and Frenchie Wine Shop.

From Montpellier’s seaside city Sète, Maurane El Mokkeddem is Frenchie’s head sommelier and assistant manager. She describes the “uncomplicated” venue as having “bistro energy”, thanks to the “young team”. With a finger tattoo reading “forever”, El Mokkeddem formerly worked with Sara Rossi at Trinity, Clapham. At Frenchie, she sees her role, and that of her “lovely soldiers, Joris Coradello and Jeanne Bobinet”, as helping guests “create memories, discover their first biodynamic wine or first vintage from a new winemaker”. Of teamwork, El Mokkeddem says: “Work together and go further, work alone and you will probably face a wall you can’t climb.”

Featuring custom fonts, the list has a playful by-the-glass selection, eschewing Loire Sauvignon Blanc for rare 100% Romorantin (Domaine des Huards) and offering deeply-hued, amphorae-aged Pinot Grigio (Fuoripista, Elisabetta Foradori) rather than a tabloid version. Indeed, of the latter, and, for example, Clos de l’Anhel Corbieres, El Mokkeddem loves showcasing wines made with “the female touch.”

Also, expect plentiful Sherries, which are remnants from a previous sommelier’s “crazy addiction to it”, as well as interesting sweeties such as Victoria Torres’s Negramoll Dulce.

“The bottle pops when sommeliers visit us,” says El Mokkeddem, who also happens to be a Decanter magazine world wine awards team leader.

Dust-free standard bottles including, from 100-year-old vines, Mont Baudile’s Bourboulenc, London exclusive, 2011 Margaux du Château Margaux, and aromatic, indie orange Slovakian (Slobodne Vinárstvo), whose “honeycomb” works with tortellini with pumpkin and ricotta, hang on a bespoke iron wine wall opposite the kitchen, punctuated by small lights. Magnums, “which Frenchie is very addicted to”, stand behind banquettes and at the bar. The latter may include an older vintage of Henri Milan’s Provençal red. Also expect the odd New World bottle including Kevin Grant’s Ataraxia, and retro Napa by winery, Ashes and Diamond. While there is osmosis between the lists in London and Paris, don’t expect English wine at Frenchie, Paris!

Aside from wine, cider such as the organic, unfiltered Wignac Le Goupil rosé is important to El Mokkeddem, bringing “subtle elegance” to the signature bacon scone “nibble” with maple syrup and Cornish clotted cream. Other dishes from menus, ranging from the pre-theatre option to five-course tasting menu, may include a starter of foie gras with forced rhubarb and sorrel, which El Mokkeddem likes to partner with Broc Love Rosé from California (Valdiguié, Trousseau, Zinfandel), a main of steamed cod, mussels, cauliflower, dill and whey, then yuzu Mont Blanc, and/or an English/French cheese selection.

Note the “Frenchie barrel” behind the bar “bringing a vanilla touch to a house-aged Boulevardier,” for example. And do stay for excellent coffee (Dr. Strangelove San Salvador).

When not at Frenchie, you may find El Mokkeddem at nearby Terroirs, “a second home for us,” or Brat, Bocca di Lupo and, for its pizzette, Bernadi’s.”

Frenchie’s at home service is available to order at its Paris site. The restaurant is also posting recipes for its popular dishes on Instagram. Find out more here. 

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