Considering London’s track record for taking food and drink concepts too far, I’d forgive you for thinking that Petit Pois Bistro might be wholly focused on those little green blighters. Fortunately though, it is in fact a grown-up, charming restaurant on Hoxton Square from Alastair Burgess & co., best known for the award-winning cocktail bar Happiness Forgets directly downstairs, and the equally wonderful Original Sin on Stoke Newington High Street.
It is their first foray in to the world of food, but you wouldn’t guess it, and that’s down to the great team that’s been assembled, most of whom are called Chris, plus Alastair’s knack for getting the atmosphere just right in all situations.
At the time of writing, they have a short but sweet all-day menu with four mains, four starters, a couple of sides, and two desserts. Additionally, there are some small bites (croque monsieur, cheese, oysters etc) ideal for a flying visit, and a separate brunch menu for the weekends.
Sommelier Chris Madden (previously Social Eating House) got us started with a Californian bottle of Cabaret Frank No.2 that held its own throughout the meal. I dispatched a plate of poached eggs, Stornoway black pudding and pancetta in red wine sauce. Chef Chris Smith, formerly of Bleecker St. Burger, rates his black pudding above that crucial layer in the award winning Bleecker Black burger. Are you reading Zan Kaufman? I’ll happily judge a contest.
As the last mussel disappeared from my sister’s starter, Sommelier Chris turned up with extra bread to mop up the moreish moules marinière sauce. No need to ask – that’s hospitality. We were also willing recipients of a spoonful of Chef Chris’ blue cheese soufflé, newly added to the menu. It was magical – a fluffy cloud of mild Cornish blue that would convert the most hardened smelly cheese hater. So far, so good.
N.B. The next three photos are also borrowed from photographer Addie Chinn because our dinner was a tad too candlelit for my camera.
Steak frites with béarnaise sauce doesn’t jump off the page, but do yourself a favour and order it. A generous portion of flat iron Black Angus from Somerset was my reward, and that béarnaise sauce… Chef Chris had no secrets to reveal, just that it is made in house, in small batches, to perfection. Big shout out to Nathan Mills and The Butchery team in Bermondsey for the magnificent meat. Across the table, duck confit was also well received, partnered by a gorgeous pot of dauphinoise potatoes. Don’t leave without trying a forkful.
Finally, it was time for dessert, and we ordered one of each. A crème brûlée tartlet left me wanting a pastry-free version, but all was forgotten when we dipped our spoons in to a tableside served dollop of their chocolate mousse. Word has quickly spread about this seemingly simple creation and rightly so. Here’s what Jay Rayner had to say:
It is a thing of true beauty and soothing darkness. It is chocolate mousse as balm for the soul. Chuck out the antidepressants. Cancel the talking cures. Just prescribe a plateful of this to the anxious and panicked. The world will immediately seem that little bit better. Jay Rayner, The Guardian, Sunday 17 July 2016
I started off cockily thinking I’d need to go back for seconds, but unsurprisingly Chris (who knows which one at this point) had extracted the perfect amount. We slumped back in to our chairs with a coffee after a marvellous meal, and stayed there unpestered for a good half hour before rolling back on to the streets of Shoreditch. A triumph from start to finish, Petit Pois Bistro is an understated and outstanding addition to the area.
Thanks again to photographer Addie Chinn for six of the photos above!
9 Hoxton Square, Hackney, N1 6NU