Remember those weddings where the top table was fed, watered and table cleared while the people in the cheaper seats were forced to chew their napkins while scrolling through delivery menus? I did not see it happen, but somehow every table in our large party was picking up cutlery as every table was simultaneously warned not to touch molten plates. Just how head chef Ned Parker and his team managed to serve all meals piping hot to so many tables shall forever remain a mystery.
Right about now, most of us were needing a lay down, or at least a track suit. But, we rallied as the aroma of the mains hit the table. It was impossible to choose a favourite between the boeuf en daube with petite vegetables, or Ned’s take on Marco Pierre White’s classic sea bass a la Provencale, which paired rainbow trout with the classic sauce, producing a real contender for its own ‘classique’ badge. Oh, what to say about beef without using airy gestures and a reasonable gamut of facial expressions! Superb, warming, posh comfort food with the silkiest mash and the tiniest, fully formed vegetables, in a sauce that should come in a vat. The artichokes barigoule was worth every arduous hour of effort those prawn-peeling boys invested in a very special side dish. The winter salad looked as if it was still growing, glistening under a gentle dressing. I couldn’t even tell you if there was a tablecloth. I don’t think I ever saw it.
We all made a pretence of offering the last of anything to another, albeit passing the plates in vice-like grips. In for a penny, in for a pound, we began looking forward to dessert. Given my mother used to make fabulous crepes, I was keen watch Ned make the orange sauce for the paper-thin crepes Suzette. The sauce was drool-worthy – Grand Marnier, VSOP Hennessy Cognac, a splash of fresh orange juice, a drop of butter for body and shine, which all meant that Ma had made crepes Suzette without using any of the ingredients. Topped with gorgeous vanilla glacé, wow!
Coete de Boeuf, Loulou style!
The selection of wines and liqueurs on offer runs to 23 pages – quite the plus for rabid francophiles. Paired with our dinner were French wines from Loire Valley, Chablis, Cotes de Provence, Beaujolais and Paris, a boon for those for whom an extensive wine list is less of a thrill. Really beautiful wines – particularly the 2021 Domaine Les Poete ‘Le S’ Sauvignon.
Ned Parker’s curated Bastille Day menu is available for dinner bookings from 5.30pm on 14 July, and bookings are beyond essential. If you fancy lunch on the day, service will be al a carte. Festivities will continue over the weekend, with special treats available in-store and online. For those who fancy a picnic over the weekend, order your hamper soon! Bistro Loulou caters for gluten-free and vegan diets.