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Restaurant Review: Bistro Bruno Loubet at the Zetter in Farringdon

I thought I had better blog my breakfast/ brunch at Bruno Loubet’s new bistro at the Zetter this morning as otherwise I wouldn’t be able to remember it.   It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it but just that I am not driven to go back there for lunch or dinner as I thought I would be.  It was a bit of a nothing of an experience.  In fact, my overwhelming feeling was that it was a wasted possibility of a visit to The Modern Pantry or the J&A Cafe which are both within a glimpse’s distance.

It started well.  The French service is of the efficient and charming type rather than the opposite variety you so often experience.  The room is fantastically placed for relaxed dining.  We were put in a great table by the window and could look out over the Georgian townhouses and almhouses which surround the Zetter.
The menu is also interesting.  It promises a lot in a simple but yet slightly adventurous way.  Putting aside the orange juice and the fresh Earl Grey we had (though the Earl Grey was particularly fragrant) the food was under seasoned and slightly irrelevant.  Normally I review on the basis of that is good or not good.  I don’t really think people want to hear a blow by blow breakdown of each bite of the meal and my thoughts on what flavour combinations worked and what didn’t but I think this warrants it…. well here goes. 
I had the pea pancake with poached eggs.  It sounded fantastic and looked similarly apposite.  However, pea and egg have the same profile; they both have an earthiness about them.  That is why you pair them with lemon, mint, ham, bacon etc.. Here the only attempt to do this was with some slivers of “French” bacon.  They didn’t succeed.  It needed a bit of acid (a squeeze of lemon or lime) or some fine mint sauce to lift it out of the mundane.  
Jen had a traditional eggs Benedict.  Again beautiful presentation, non existent taste.  I have never seen Jen leave an eggs Benedict half finished before (especially after a night crawling around Dalston and failing to get into the Dalston Superstore).  However, as I finished the second half I knew why she did.  I was just plain bored.  A thorough over seasoning from the nice Peugeot grinders on the table barely rescued it.  Again for the food criticism: everything needed independent seasoning as it was being prepared, the bacon/ ham was “French” and barely present and the toast was without character and soul. The eggs Benedict at The Counter Cafe is streets ahead (here).
My toast with marmite on the side was good though.
This review is undoubtedly of the unforgiving variety but after having read the recent praise on Dos Hermanos (here) I thought I would try the breakfast/ brunch to see whether they could do the basics before moving onto lunch/ supper. They can, a bit. But it is nothing special.  I just hope the big meals are better when I somewhat inevitably drift back there. Btw undoubtedly you will read a lot of reviews in the papers over the coming weekends of very recognisable reviewers having fantastic meals there.  By all means enjoy the evocative writing but take it with a pinch of salt (as Bistro Bruno Loubet should do).
Price £35 for two for breakfast
PS for those who are not sure what “French” bacon is, this is a reference to the fact that the inventors of haute cuisine – ze French – have manifestly always failed to appreciate the joy and effect of “proper” bacon.  It really isn’t complicated.  Go to the Ginger Pig.  Buy and taste.
Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon


  1. Siany

    Wow, a toast side should never be the best part of a meal, should it?

  2. Tom

    Haha – well good bread is always a core thing for me… but agreed there should have been "something" about the meal.

  3. The Grubworm

    What a disappointment – to have a 'meh' meal after all that hype. At the very least it should have had the decency to be bloody awful – so as to provide the requisite ammo for a great blog. But to be well, average… how disappointing.

  4. Tom

    Grubworm – a couple of friends actually went there for supper on Saturday and had exactly the same experience. £150 later they were apparently bored and looking longingly at The Modern Pantry.

  5. The Grubworm

    Uh-oh, one bad experience can be an aberration, but two? With Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell Kitchen, Portal, St John, Eastside Inn, The Gascon siblings etc all close by, it could be a disaster. And what was wrong with the Zetter as it was? I had some good food there.

  6. Tom

    Grubworm – I will be very interested when the run of big name reviews come out and see what their experience is. I hope one of them does it NYT style and goes in disguise and has a less than perfect meal…

    You are making me hungry now. I am dreaming of the cheesecake at Comptoir Gascon

  7. Jared

    I am starving now,the foods are really yummy!!My goodness..I am a health conscious person and a vegetarian as well..The foods suites my taste..I'll make that one now..Hahaha..Thanks for posting the photos..I like it!!Yummy

    restaurants wells

  8. Simon

    That is a *beautiful* eggs benny. Shame it didn't taste as good as it looks…

  9. Tom

    Simon – everything there looked beautiful (room, waiters, table etc.) but was just a bit bland. If you want a pretty looking meal which doesn't amaze (not always a bad thing) I would recommend it.

  10. theboywhoatetheworld

    Slightly disappointed to hear you had a bland unmemorable experience as I've been looking fwd to going back to the Zetter since it had its Bruno Loubet makeover (used to frequent it for dinner on TopTable 50% offers for the divine Prawn Chorizo and Belly Pork Starter)

    Great blog btw – Recipes look delish and can so relate to the heaps of praise you give Modern Pantry which i think is the best Brunch in town. Will definitely be back given your focus on places round the Sq Mile–>EastEnd area.

  11. Tom

    my love of the Modern Pantry knows no bounds. I have never regularly had such a pitch perfect brunch. It is strange that I know some people have had very different experiences there but I just don't understand how. Every time someone comes to town we go there and they love it without fail.

    I have read some other reviews by bloggers and generally people seem to be not overly impressed. Though a recent Time Out London review went into hyperbole overload on their meal there…

  12. theboywhoatetheworld

    I'm with you all the way on Modern Pantry. Its one of those awe-inspiring places that got me into foodblogging in the first place. Recently had a really good brunch at Hoxton's Breakfast Club. Worth a try if you haven't been already – a bit more breafasty and a little less fusion.

  13. Tom

    I went there a while ago and have rarely ever had such big potions until… I went to Hawksmoor for brunch last weekend. If you want a thug's version of the Modern Pantry with meat not fusion it is well worth going. And the cornflake milkshake is one of the best things I have tried this year!

  14. Anonymous

    i have worked under Bruno Loubet in noosa and he is undoubtably a master, it's a shame the chefs under him arent lifting up his name at breakfast time.

  15. Tom

    I have to say it put me off supper though I know people rave about him…

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