When we first ate at BBL back in March 2011 we loved it. In the blog post of that visit we described the food as 'exceptional', the place as having 'an easy charm' and ourselves as 'smitten'. Since then, we have got to know Bruno Loubet and his food much more and our respect and appreciation for what he does has only grown.
Don't be fooled by the fact that Bruno has opted for a Bistrot format, he is a formidable cooking talent (he was the first Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons), and his talent and experience comes through in every dish. With three people around the table today, we got to see a number of these, though still less than half of what's on offer for it is a comprehensive menu but nowhere does it compromise quality.
The bouillabaisse for example was exceptional: vibrant to look at, good variety in the dish, all cooked to perfection. Michelin starred Arbutus just the other week served up a disgracefully bland (and more expensive) version highlighting that what you get at BBL is exceptional cooking. The rolled rabbit saddle meanwhile was skilfully prepared with the kidney in the middle perfectly pink.
But France isn't the only area where he takes inspiration from and the Braised beef Indochine with a mango and herb salad offered up an unusual dish for a bistro perhaps, but no less welcome for that and maybe carries influences from his time spent in Australia. The braised beef cheek was again triumph of texture and flavour and the picture below conveys just how fantastic the sauce was, all paired with the wonderful freshness of the mango, as well as coriander and chilli.
Choosing desserts is always difficult at BBL for they are all simply fantastic. His apple tart we enjoyed on a previous occasion (picture shown) so we chose three other desserts, each of which was first class. The olive oil and star anis pannacotta had the perfect wobbly texture and came with the most delicious strawberries. The chocolate delice and mille feuilles of rhubarb were similarly greatly enjoyed.
Bruno Loubet's food is very good indeed and we love the Bistrot. Prices are excellent: starters £7 - £8.50, mains £16.50 - £20, desserts £6.50, and portion sizes will leave you very full indeed (they encourage doggie-bags too for what you can't eat). The dishes are attractive without being over elaborate but the flavours are never less than 100% and the cooking is, as noted a number of times already, always spot on. When we want good honest food 'guaranteed', we can think of no better choice than Bistrot Bruno Loubet; we were smitten all over again.
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Critical Couple on Bistrot Bruno Loubet March 2011