One of the reasons I started this blog just over two years ago was because I loved the idea of discovering new, exciting and unique restaurants in London. Unfortunately I’ve always been a little late to the party with the majority of my reviews, but that’s not really a huge issue. I suppose reviewing a restaurant that opened 20 years ago is as relevant as reviewing one that opened yesterday. You always want to know what the food is like, the quality of the service and what kind of vibe you might expect, so maybe you can just refer to my lateness to the party as “fashionably late”. That makes my blog pretty cool, right?
Anyway, this post is one of those rare ones where i’m actually pretty on time to what is in fact, an incredibly unique, alternative and inspiring party. It’s also a bit of an exclusive party, because only 4 people can attend it at a time! I’m practically off the charts of cool right now!
The story of this sudden coolness goes like this: about a month ago I came across a tweet talking about a brand new pop-up restaurant set within a four seater Citroen HY Van (inspired by George Clark’s Amazing Spaces). This unique little pop-up would serve a selection of french influenced classics, from moules frites, cassoulets, fruit de mer and beautiful hearty casserols to fondue, raclette and brunch. I instantly took to twitter to find out how I could try out this new, exciting miniature restaurant.
“We want to provide a unique dining experience, one you’ll be talking about for months to come. We will post a weekly menu on the site. You simply book, We will then drive to a pre-arranged destination, set up our HY VAN and outdoor kitchen for a four person service.”
La Petite Bouchee is currently parked next to the lake in Sydenham Wells Park. A beautiful, suburban location not half an hour from Central London. Getting to this part of London is a little tricky if you’re coming from Central as I was. There are no tubes to this part of the world, instead the 176 Bus was my transport mode of choice from Waterloo station, and while it was meant to take an hour, it actually only took 30 minutes so we arrived at the park half an hour early. We were dining during the Sunday morning brunch service. While our pre-ordered food wasn’t quite ready yet (understandable given how early we were) we were invited into the van to enjoy some lovely “posh” cafetiere coffee, fresh juice and the Sunday morning newspapers. I have never felt so civilised in my life!
At 10.30am we were joined by a lovely couple who were booked to enjoy Brunch in the other two seats in the van, and that’s when our food was served. We had been asked to order our food a few days in advance to allow for Anita and her colleague to prepare as they were cooking the food fresh outside on a tressle table with portable hobs. The menu was as follows:
Traditional Eggs Benedict (poached egg served on a slice of hand carved ham on top of a lightly toasted breakfast muffin, served with homemade hollandaise sauce)
Eggs Benedict Royale (as above only substituting smoked salmon for the hand carved ham)
Eggs Florentine (as above only substituting wilted organic spinach for the salmon)
Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich)
Croque Madame (A grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a poached egg)
Cheese & Fine Herbs Omelette
Ham and cheese Omelette
I chose the Eggs Benedict Royale (naturally – this is my all time favourite brunch dish!) while my lovely friend and dining partner, Henny, went for the Croque Monsieur.
I have found that a REALLY good hollandaise sauce is quite hard to come by. My personal attempts at making it have often resulted in an overly yellow lumpy mess, but Anita is obviously a pro. The hollandaise that was generously dolloped on top of my breakfast muffin was smooth, creamy and made with exactly the right amount of tang which went beautifully with my perfectly poached egg (poaching again is a technique that baffles me!) and the stunning salmon.
I don’t often get food envy (i’m pretty good at ordering the best thing on the menu!) but Henny’s Croque Monsieur looked incredible. Seeped in glorious homemade cheese sauce (none of that Dolmio stuff!), the toasted sandwich was packed full of indulgent, ham and cheesy goodness.
“This is just so delicious I don’t want it to end!”
Needless to say, Henny scraped the plate clean and declared that that was the best cheese sauce in the world! If that’s not reason enough to visit this little pop-up for brunch, then I don’t know what is. Anita was kind enough to offer Henny the remainders of the cheese sauce to take home with her, and had she been planning on going straight home afterwards I’m pretty sure she would have bitten her hand off, but alas, cheese sauce doesn’t keep well in one’s handbag!
Our cooked food was followed by a selection of pastries and baguettes accompanied by butter and homemade Strawberry, Lime and Pimms jam. Oh my! Anita’s other business venture is a company called Heaven Preserves Us – she is a maker of handmade preserves, pickles and potions! Almost all of her ingredients are sourced locally or homegrown, and the spices are roasted and ground and made freshly for each batch. What a woman! In addition to this, she also writes a pretty fantastic blog on which she has a recipe for her homemade Bloody Mary Vodka which is also offered with brunch for an additional £5 (the complete Bloody Mary, not just the vodka, although a shot of that would certainly wake you up in a morning!) However, we opted for a few glasses of Prosecco to wash down our delicious food (at £3 a glass). The cost of Brunch (complete with cooked meal, bread, pastries, coffee and juice) is just £17.50. A bargain for such a unique and personable experience.
If brunch isn’t your thing, don’t panic (although do feel ashamed!) because this isn’t the only way you can experience La Petite Bouchée. For two nights only in September, you can enjoy a decadent Seafood Feast for four, including lobster, crab, oysters, moules, whelks and winkles. To enquire or book this fantastic meal, click here or call 0208 378 5077. Hopefully this event might become a regular occurrence!
Alternatively you might want to give the ultimate cheese night a try with their vacherin fondue! Baked in three three-ways, simply dip in and out of this unctuous and decadent cheese with an assortment of vegetables, charcuterie and pickles whilst enjoying the unique surroundings and a couple of glasses of something full bodied and warming! There are two dates available for this, click here to book!
There are also a few limited dates for the brand new 3 course lunch event – Repas! The menu will change weekly but you can expect dishes such as Tartiflette, Soupe de Poisson, Salade Lyonnaise, Tarte Tatin and Clafoutis. Click here to book one of these fantastic Saturday lunches now.
There are also a few other events available for you to enjoy, including moules nights which have already been received incredibly well, and La Petite Bouchée can also create menus personalised to the group, so if there is a particular French classic that you love, Anita and team would be happy to try and accommodate. And the recent terrible weather isn’t enough to deter them either. Rain, hail, snow, or beautiful sunshine, these events will run. This is truly one of the best ways to celebrate a special occasion, from a birthday to anniversary, but it’s also just the perfect way to enjoy fantastic food & let your partner know that you love them, as was the case with our lovely dining companions Jamie & Scott. If you are looking for a unique, friendly and delicious dining experience, you simply must find a way to book yourself onto one of these superb dining events. You will leave satisfied, full and smiling, I promise you.