Le Boudin Blanc Shepherd Market Mayfair

Peter Morrell enjoys a little corner of Paris in London

My younger daughter spent part of her degree course studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. This gave my wife and I ample opportunity to get under the culinary skin of the French capital and enjoy some excellent bistro style meals in areas untouched by tourists.

The memories of Paris came flooding back as I wandered through Shepherd Market recently to eat. Not only were the little alley ways and cobbled street reminiscent of happy Parisian nights but I was heading for Le Boudin Blanc, a very traditional French restaurant.

The evening was warm and the restaurant had set up tables on the pavement outside. The area was buzzing with people, in part because the International Olympic Committee had just taken up residence in the Hilton hotel about 200 metres away.

We decided to eat inside which has a cosy and romantic atmosphere, candle lit tables and low ceilings make it an ideal spot for a birthday or anniversary celebration.

The menu is unashamedly French which I warmed to, with familiar starters like onion soup, oysters, moules marinières and escargot there was no shortage of things to tempt the palate. My dining companion chose the pan-fried calamari. This was well presented and served with a chilli pepper, tomato and pine nuts dressing and served with some delicious rosemary and olive oil bread.

My choice of starter was the classic Mediterranean dish, soupe de poissons with crouton, grated cheese and rouille. This was a reminder of those meals in Paris, the soup had great depth of flavour and there is something about the taste of the cheese and rouille that makes it so satisfying.

Head sommelier Marc Le Blanc, who is referred to as the magician, conjured up a great wine to match the starter, a sauvignon blanc / marsanne blend from Peyrac. This was full of tropical and citrus fruits and paired well with our choices of starter.

The mains menu again featured classic French dishes, the meat section offered steak tartare or fillet and entrecote, if you prefer your beef cooked, lamb, pork and veal. The fish dishes included sea bass, skate and sole. Also on the menu was the restaurant’s namesake boudin blanc, This is a white pudding sausage made with chicken, ham hock and veal sweetbread and is served with a spiced pineapple compote.

My companion was swayed by the sound of the fish special, baby turbot with lobster pieces in a lobster sauce. This was a delicate combination of flavours that worked very well together. My main was confit of duck leg with sautéed potatoes in garlic and parsley butter, and a salad dressed with hazelnut oil and cep jus.

Nicolas Laridan

The duck had a lot of deep powerful flavours which were rounded out with the salad dressing and the garlic. Marc, the sommelier again came up trumps with a Pommard burgundy. This pinot noir had intense strawberry and earthy notes on the palate and a long and lingering finish.

There are more than 500 wines to choose from, starting at under £30 and finishing in the hundreds, so there is something for every taste and pocket.

Chef de cuisine is Nicolas Laridan who has an impressive culinary record. The Tattinger family employed him for their prestigious 5 star Hotel Concorde in Paris where he attained the position of Chef de Partie. After being spotted by the Roux Family he joined the team and worked at Gavvers and The Poulbot and the other Roux outlets before finally moving to the Gavroche where he finished as Head Chef for 7 years. He is now delighting diners at Le Boudin Blanc.

Desserts are typically French and suitably indulgent with crème brûlée and chocolate fondant both providing temptation. My dining companion and I both resisted our sweet tooth but I did succumb to the cheese platter. This was a good selection of both hard and soft cheese with some very good savoury bread.

Le Boudin Blanc is a very comfortable place to spend an evening, the other diners are a smart crowd who create a sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere. Service is expertly run by veteran general manager Christophe Capron and this, combined with the food, creates a genuine French dining experience that you would find in Paris eateries.

Next to our table was the carving of a large pig with a very satisfied look on his face, I know how he felt.

For a three course a la carte meal expect to pay around £60 per head including wine and service. There is also a prix fixe menu all week, three courses for £14.95, lunch and dinner until 7pm. On Sunday lunch only there is a Sunday roast menu, two courses for £15.95

Le Boudin Blanc
5 Trebeck Street,
Shepherd Market,
Mayfair, London,
W1J 7LT   
Tel: 020 7499 3292    
Fax: 020 7495 6973


Review date 26th July 2012