What makes the perfect French bistro? A menu of timeless dishes? Discreet, flawless service? Red banquettes? Loads of big gold-framed mirrors? Or is it something indefinable, a sense of élan that comes only with the Gallic commitment to hospitality?
Garnier has all these to spare. Although the restaurant opened only in 2012, it looks like it’s been there forever; it’s certainly not at the cutting edge of anything – but that’s not the point. What diners get is a display of serious adroitness in the kitchen, with chefs clearly possessing deep knowledge of the principles that made French cooking a benchmark in the first place.
There’s soupe de poisson. Assiette de crudités. Snails, foie gras terrine, steak tartare. The menu is split traditionally, with ‘Les Poissons’ featuring scallops with cauliflower, and sole with parsley butter. From ‘Les Viandes’ came a beautifully tender shin of Scotch beef served with puréed vegetables. Bread and butter, and side dishes of potatoes and beans, are complimentary and excellent. Desserts include crêpes suzette and crème brûlée.
The all-French wine list isn’t greedily priced and offers value at the lower end too. Eric and Didier Garnier, the brothers behind this venture, are no strangers to the restaurant scene, and it shows.