Le Caf̩ du March̩ Рa bit of France in Smithfield

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Le Café du Marché is very French and it really feels like you’ve been transported across the Channel as soon as you walk though the door.  The restaurant is tucked away down a little cobbled alley off Charterhouse Square and is quite hard to find, but if you head to Malmaison hotel, you’re only moments away.

The decor is elegantly rustic – the amber coloured brick walls, white tablecloths, candles, fresh flowers and good music create a very romantic, warm ambience. On the Friday night I was there, the room was packed with well-heeled, Francophile diners, savouring impressive plates of food and sipping huge glasses of wine. Le Café du Marché clearly appeals to serious foodies, but it’s not at all stuffy. The staff are everything you would expect too – friendly, knowledgeable, and super efficient.

The concise menu features French classics and changing specials Рall using super fresh, seasonal produce. To start, I enjoyed a tarte tatin of beetroot, delicate deep purple beetroot on a light pastry disc with a spoon of cr̬me fraiche. A simple but gorgeous looking tarte that tasted sublime. Soupe de poisson, pan fried foie gras with poached egg, warm asparagus with girolles and soft goats cheese are other fabulous starters. Les plats include a dish of the day, fish of the day, several meat dishes and one veggie option. I tried the pork which was excellently cooked and intensely flavoured. My partner had the cassoulet Рa very substantial, bean and meat stew. Definitely man food. It looks like the menu is now more summery (no cassoulet), but the lighter dishes all sound equally delicious.

Le Café du Marché will be a fantastic place to celebrate Bastille Day – do book ahead though as I’m sure it will be a very popular venue. I also just noticed that there’s a special summer lunch offer on at the moment – three courses from the price of two .  I’m going back!

Fancy yourself as a Francophile foodie? Or do you think English cuisine is better? Join The Big Debate at London Restaurant Festival with Janet Street-Porter and AA Gill. By tickets here.