Small plates and Euro-centric natural wine bars have dominated the trendy neighbourhood restaurant scene from Hackney to Brixton for the past decade. They used to boast innovation but we’ve reached a point where the giddy excitement of splitting halloumi fries and calamari with your mates has started to wear off. What makes Ploussard different is that it offers the expected Clapham and Battersea vibes while still being surprisingly good value when you compare it to the punchier prices currently plaguing London.
Ploussard’s founders are also behind Battersea and Brixton’s Other Side Fried, who specialise in ‘dirty’ chicken burgers. It’s something of a pleasant surprise, then, to see them behind these elegant, Parisian-inspired dishes.
Under chef Matt Harris, the team offers a weekly-changing, seasonal selection in a 34-seater spot which encapsulates everything that makes Battersea Rise so… well, so like Clapham. You’ve got neutral coffee-coloured walls (after all, their target millennial market is most at home in independent coffee shops), warm lighting from fancy fixtures, numerous trailing plants, and an open kitchen which spills out into a bustling, sociable dining area.
Taking a seat at the counter, we started with savoury eclairs stuffed with creamy, saucy Lincolnshire poacher cheese. The pastries weren't life-changing, (as some cheese dishes are), but with a mustard mayo piped on top, they were perfect for munching on while looking over the rest of the menu.
Part of the beauty of Ploussard is its self-confidence. I was sceptical at the sound of a lamb and anchovy crumpet, but I’d been assured by more than one waiter that this was a must-try. While the changing menu keeps this bistro’s offering fresh and exciting, there are a few staples – and this is one of them. The fluffy, £12 crumpet came topped with a minced lamb patty as well as a velvety, deliciously salty blanket of anchovy emulsion, sprinkled with chives and capers. Just a single bite had me and my equally-sceptical friend turning to each other in mutual awe.
The dish which most-rivalled the heavenly crumpet was the rainbow trout. The fish arrived with beautifully crispy skin, tangy, burnt leeks, and brown shrimp; all swimming in a rich espelette pepper butter sauce which, given the opportunity, I would’ve swigged straight from a bowl. At £16 it seemed pretty decent value – I would easily expect to pay double, but perhaps I’m getting too used to London restaurants charging me a fortune for a simple dish.
It’s impressive enough for date night, while also perfect for popping in on the way home for a single cheesy eclair and a glass of orange wine.
Next up, were three giant asparagus spears accompanied by walnuts and sauce gribiche, which we savoured alongside some natural sparkling pét-nat. We then had raw beef on toast, coated in a smoked bearnaise. While it's safe to say the bread gave my jaw a bit of a workout thanks to its overly crispy consistency, it’s definitely the only workout I’ve ever wanted to do all over again.
For dessert, we split an elusively-named ‘rhubarb and custard’ (please can we stop this trend of just listing a couple of ingredients, I’d like to know what’s actually on my plate) and a chocolate mousse, topped with salted caramel ice cream and hazelnuts. The mousse was a masterclass; fluffy and light, and also beautifully thick and rich. Plus the hazelnuts gave the oh-so-silky pudding a satisfying crunch. It was at this point that I regretted agreeing to split two puddings with my chocolate-obsessed friend, as the rhubarb and custard just couldn’t live-up to such heavenly standards. It was soft and sweet, and joined by a vanilla cream and meringue which you could’ve convinced me was made from actual clouds, but left me missing the usual enjoyment that I get from rhubarb (I like it served hot with crumble and a thick, vanilla custard). Don’t get me wrong, it was full of originality, it just wasn’t as lick-the-bowl worthy as the mousse.
But the best thing about Ploussard isn’t the food, but its energy. It’s impressive enough for date night, while also perfect for popping in on the way home for a single cheesy eclair and a glass of orange wine. Welcome to the neighbourhood.
The vibe You’ll find millennials packing out this buzzing locals spot and sipping on fancy, natural wines.
The food Parisian-style small plates full of seasonal vegetables, meat, and seafood.
The drink Natural wines and bubbles from France.
Time Out tip Get about five plates to share, plus a dessert each. And listen to what the team recommends – they know their stuff.