9 February 2014

L'Entrepot

There's a place I can't stop thinking about. A little place tucked nondescriptly next to a small train station and yet it's made a big enough impact for me to want to go back after just one visit. I think it's because it's like a French version of one of my favourite hideaways in London, Lardo. It instils that simplicity, that little bit of je ne sais quoi but we're still in Hackney, for god's sake.

A French eatery and winery, owned by Borough Wines who now have a few other locations dotted around, the understated L'Entrepot is a firm favourite amongst locals. Forget the fancy frippery and penguin waiters, the decor here is admittedly not much to look at but the waitresses are friendly Dalstonites.


We went on a Friday after work. They managed to fit us in if we left in an hour and a half as our table was booked. Our slot came and went, we weren't turfed off - in fact we reluctantly left when they were starting to shut up shop. We were given seats either side of one of those long tables that you sometimes sigh inwardly at, knowing that you'll be all elbows and eavesdropping - but in fact, it wasn't like that at all. Neighbours came and went without being intrusive and it allowed us the opportunity to ogle their choices from the menu.

There's around 25 or so wines on the menu which apparently changes daily - no surprises here from such a well-respected winery. Bottles were reasonably cheap too but we decided to start with a carafe of one of the house reds, and we were still going strong another two carafes later. Food is comfortingly simple here and much of what you'd expect from a place named L'Entrepot - we opted for the sharing board of charcuterie, warm bread and balsamic oil with raw parsnip slaw (a must). Then there came the slow braised lamb shoulder with barley wheat for C, and I had a divine portion of steak tartare with anchovy toast that was quite possibly the best I've ever had.

The simplicity is key here, and that's why it's doing so well. Spend even half an hour in here and you'll be hard-pressed to imagine you're doors down from a train station and just round the corner from chicken shops. Elle magazine nominated it one of their favourite wine bars, and apparently their brunch is bloody good too. So while dreams of French beaches in an endless summer aren't quite reality just yet, an evening in a French bistro like this is more than enough to whet your appetite.
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