French bistro hits the spot in Hoxton Square

I’ve got a thing about Jay Rayner. No, not that sort of thing. More that he’s very ‘A’ list in the world of food and drinks writing and I’m very … ‘C’. His readership is measured in the hundreds of thousands. Mine, merely in the thousands. He also happens to live in my neighbourhood. We go to the same gym. We visit the same farmers markets in the weekend. We use the same train and tube stations. However that’s where it ends. Rather than two fellow food writers chewing the proverbial smalec (that’s lard to you non-foodies) of my fantasy, the reality is that we don’t hang out. A little nod. A raised brow of acknowledgement. That’s about it.

But if we did ever chance upon a conversation we would have lots to talk about. Because we do go the same restaurants And mostly, we tend to like them.

Which brings me to this week’s hotspot, Petit Pois in hipper then hip, Hoxton Square. Unlike most restaurants in the locale, Petit Pois has its roots in cocktail bars. Alastair Burgess of Happiness Forgets fame, and Chef Chris Smith, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris met last year and decided to open a cosy French bistro in the heart of East London.

The space is small (or bijou) and very Hoxton / East London styled. So exposed brick interiors and understated furniture. You sit close enough to your fellow diner to touch elbows, but in an ambient, bistro rather than golden arches way.

The menu reads like a fantasy list of people’s French favourite. So moules marinière, steak frites with béarnaise, and duck confit with onion purée and gratin dauphinoise all feature. We started with the moules marinière and the black pudding with a poached egg. The later was heavenly with its generous cut of pud, and a perfectly poached egg as an accompaniment. The mussels were cooked perfectly, and delicately flavoured. The confit duck was a shade smaller then I was expecting, but delicious all the same. The chocolate mousse dessert was generous in portion size, and pretty damned tasty.

The service was sharp in both speed and humour – I’m not sure my friend picked up all of the jokes – and on a balmy Thursday night, the bistro was the busiest place in the square. I should add that it’s good value for money to at about £30 for three course, and as a spot, works both as a date or a friend’s night. I wouldn’t go there with a hen / stag party mind you.

I was actually meant to review this a few weeks back – first writer off the rank according to the lovely PR Helena, but sadly home and day job matters meant I had to delay. So Jay Rayner got there first, and as it happens, he likes Petit Pois. A lot. It’s good to know that we have something else we’ll agree on when we finally get to meet.

On a scale of * to *****

Wining and dining ****

Serving and pouring ***

Scmoozing and boozing ****

Petit Pois Bistro

9 Hoxton Square


N1 6NU

INSTAGRAM: @PetitPoisBistro

TWITTER: @PetitPoisBistro

FACEBOOK: Petit Pois Bistro