Right in the heart of Primrose Hill, a few minutes walk from the rest of the shops and restaurants on Regents Park Road, L’Absinthe could easily be a little Parisian bistro. Inside it has that casual bric-a-brac appeal with books and artwork scattered around the dining room, and everybody is greeted by a warm Bonjour from the all-French staff.
The prices are extremely reasonable. All of the starters are around £6, and the mains around £16. But it’s the wine list that really becomes your friend. L’Absinthe doubles up as a wine shop and operates with a £10 corkage policy. So of course choosing something towards the bottom of the list makes more sense. We went for a Sancere at £34 (three bottles of it by the end it was that good) and it would have been easily been closer to the fifty mark in another restaurant.
The food is simple and unpretentious home-cooking. If you really wanted you could probably cook it yourself, and certainly plate it up like they do here, but it why go to all the effort. It’s reasonably enough priced for you to merit nipping here any night of the week for a casual bite to eat. The menu is made up of classic French comfort dishes, the types that don’t hold back on the calories. I went for the fish soup with rouille and croutons and it had a nice depth of flavour and the rouille had a good kick to it.
The blue cheese, chicory and walnut salad was fine, slightly messy with the presentation, but compensated for by the generous portion.For main I went for steak frites. It was a juicy cut of meat and came with a finger-licking bernaise sauce.
For dessert we shared an Absinthe creme brulee that was creamy and rich, although a little more of that absinthe flavour would have been a treat, and a chocolate and coffee mousse that had such a intense dark chocolate flavour that it was gone before I could get a photo.
What makes L’Absinthe is the staff. They make it a pleasure to eat there, as if they are welcoming you into their own home. It’s not the type of place you would come especially to Primrose Hill for, and it is far from being the best French food in the capital. Instead it is a restaurant that if you are lucky to have on your doorstep that you will always go back to. As the owner says on the website- good food, good wine, good company…what more do you need? L’Absinthe delivers on all three and you will leave full, drunk and happy for under £50 a head.
40 Chalcot Rd, Primrose Hill, NW1 8LS