A little bit of the Continent has come to Tooting Bec. The de rigueur trappings of a proper bistro – all-day opening, decent breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner, outdoor tables in good weather – make French Café a welcome addition to this leafy neighbourhood. It’s a popular spot for locals to sit and read the papers while idling over a coffee and croissants, or more substantial brunch dishes (weekends only) such as croque monsieur or eggs benedict.
In the evening, the kitchen switches gear and serves up easy-going French classics such as steak frites, or rabbit cooked with mustard, and there are rillettes and pâtés galore. We’ve found that it’s pretty hard to go wrong with the slow-cooked dishes, such as beef bourguignon, rich with red wine and lardons, or crisp-skinned confit of duck with puy lentils. Wines too are mostly French and well-priced. The prix-fixe menu can be good value, but choose carefully: poor-quality baguettes and a reliance on what appears to be bagged lettuce leaves in several dishes can let the side down. Those grumbles aside, this is a notable neighbourhood restaurant with a friendly vibe.