There’s no piped music at L’Absinthe, but no need, as jaunty Gallic accordion tunes may start floating round your head anyway. In a placid part of Primrose Hill, it reproduces the feel of a classic French corner bistro as unerringly as a scene from Amélie: from the signs on windows to the snug tables and unfussily retro decor. Service is smiley and full of charm, and the cosily welcoming ambience draws in tablefuls of appreciative regulars.
Menus feature suitably classic French comfort food – salade niçoise, fish soup, hachis parmentier, steaks, croque monsieur for lunch – in generous portions at generous prices. Dishes are reliably appealing, if sometimes over-rich. Pea soup and a lyonnaise salad with plenty of bacon lardons hit all the right notes as starters, and supreme of chicken with creamy tarragon sauce was very pleasant. So too was a properly traditional – if slightly heavy – duck confit with powerfully rich thyme jus. Desserts included a very smooth and large crème brûlée.
Lunch menus are especially good value, and the attached wine shop provides an excellent list including a house red – Petit Mas – that’s a robust snip at under £17.