Positively encouraging canoodling and illicit affairs, le Café du Marché buzzes with a low level romanticism that can’t be denied. Set in a former warehouse, you’ll find the sexy bistro tucked away down a little cobbled alleyway, just off of the historic Smithfield Market.
You may not have heard of it before (we hadn’t!) because it’s not exactly ‘bang on trend’ – nor does it try to be. You’re unlikely to find anything suitable for #Veganuary, instead food is unashamedly French and as rich as you’d expect it to be.
Open for the past three decades, it’s a family run restaurant where the a la carte menu is handwritten, the table clothes are freshly pressed and the place softly lit by candlelight. Exposed brick walls are adorned with blackboards and the sound of a tinkling piano is the only soundtrack.
We began with a little bowl of venison meatballs punctuated with snails, atop a smooth-as-silk parsnip puree – the only thing missing was our waiter wearing a beret. Accompanying that was the dreamiest glass of white wine (poured large, as standard) which our waiter had expertly paired for us before announcing the days specials – one of which we opted for – pistachio crusted cod with balsamic Mediterranean roasted vegetables. As you’d hope, garlic is used liberally and all mains are served with wooden bowls of French fries (hurrah!) and a shock of green salad. We’ll be back in the summer (where we hear tables spill out onto the street, in true European style) and we’ll share the cote de boeuf with béarnaise.
If you like chocolate, you’re in for a treat. Chocolate, served in more chocolate is one of their specialities. Otherwise known as the mousse au chocolat, the rich innards are served in a marbled chocolate vessel reminiscent of an open flower, before being doused in yet more chocolate sauce. It’d be rude to decline a glass of Muscat to help it down.
As we were leaving a gentleman appeared to help me with my coat – and we think that small action sums up exactly the kind of restaurant this is.