Bistrot Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
by Shreddie Kruger
With a name like Bruno Loubet you only have two choices in life: porn star or chef. Sadly for the sex industry Bruno Loubet opted for the latter, which is also great news for anyone who likes rich French bistrot grub.
His boudoir of a restaurant is nestled in the buxom bosom of Clerkenwell on the ground floor of the Zetter hotel. The bistrot has gained a fine reputation since its recent launch for its full on, card-carrying French food, including a hare dish that has the density and delicacy of a porn star’s vagina - so we expected a sensual breakfast of silky eggs and slippery butter.
Several waiters and waitresses danced around like fluffers awaiting orders before bringing us cappuccinos that would have been at their peak five minutes before they arrived on our table. Whilst this works perfectly for roasted meats, it doesn’t for coffee.
As for breakfast itself, we all know that classic Eggs Benedict is composed of a toasted English muffin, a layer of grilled ham, soft poached eggs and lashings of hollandaise sauce. But while the version that was presented to me featured a perfectly poached egg and good if slightly under-acidic hollandaise, I must object to the inclusion of bacon rather than grilled ham. I love bacon. But not with my Eggs Bennie thank you very much. The history of Eggs Benedict is worthy of a tome of biblical proportions. Some charlatans suggest that bacon should be used but many more prefer grilled ham. One item of historical relevance is a letter by Mabel C. Butler of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts to The New York Times Magazine November 1967:
“Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, when they lived in New York around the turn of the century, dined every Saturday at Delmonico's. One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d'hotel, "Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?" On his reply that he would like to hear something from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top.”
The reason that ham works so well and bacon so poorly is twofold. The extra fat in the bacon pushes the dish's richness over edge – instead of taking one year off your life it detracts a full three and adds a heart bypass in for good measure as well. Secondly, the texture of this dish should be soft. You should be able to eat it without using your teeth, therefore allowing the brain to do other important tasks such as reading the paper and waking up.
But don’t let the cold coffee and bacony Eggs Benedict put you off. Bistrot Bruno Loubet also offers a fine array of fruits, juices, breads, yoghurts and people watching as well as other interesting offerings such as poached eggs on pea pancake with crisp pancetta, which was excellent, or fennel seed cured salmon, vegetable muffin and cottage cheese.
It’s a breakfast for both curious adventurers who want to experiment a little and of course amateur porn stars. We just wish they’d been less ham fisted on the bacon front