Le Petit Citron
I’m sure that like us, many of you have mourned the passing of Brula and its unique little local corner of ‘Frenchness’ – all within an easy stroll. I know we also still have the fabulous La Buvette in Richmond, but sadly our days of visiting that are now numbered, as Bruce (the ‘Bru’ of Brula) has announced that his lease isn’t being renewed, so it will close at the end of August.
Well, I have news for you... you can hop on the tube or bus and head up to Shepherd’s Bush Road, at the top end of Brook Green where Lawrence Hartley, (the ‘la’ of Brula) and his wife Emily, are proprietors of Le Petit Citron. This is a bustling French brasserie on Shepherd’s Bush Road, at the top end of Brook Green. They have managed to create a genuinely Gallic atmosphere, with walls adorned with ‘brocante’ sourced on various forays to France, and bistro curtains adding a touch of intrigue for passers-by.
The menu is very French too: ‘Les Apéritifs’ include Cassis & Lavender G&T, Chestnut & Cider Kir and - to help whet the appetite - olives provençales or black olive tapenade with croutons d’Emily. The place is comfortably buzzing, with family groups, single diners, and couples.
Now, I’ve known Lawrence and Emily for many a year, so was delighted to spot some of my old favourites from ‘the Brula years’. I was easily sold on the petit pot aux champignons, truffle oil & tarragon, while my dining companion chose the smoked salmon, avocado purée & pickled cucumber.
My pot of delicious memories was just that - rich, but not too rich, and the portion size perfect. The salmon looked fab, was very pretty to boot and was thoroughly enjoyed.
Next, I stayed on my old Brula regime, opting for chargrilled onglet steak, pastis, garlic & herb butter, and frites.
My friend chose the sea bass fillet, spiced aubergine and minted crème fraîche. A green salad and some French beans & persillade were perfect accompaniments to share with these beautifully cooked mains. With five white and four red wines available by the glass (from just £5), we could each choose wines to pair with our food.
We both had very clean plates, but just enough room to check out the cheese offering and a then pudding - to share of course – and in that order (being in true French mode). The ‘fromage du jour’ was Pont-l’Évêque and a generous portion, served with walnuts, croutons and onion confit. I have to say, it was the only let down of the evening and a very slight one at that, as the cheese was over-chilled. The pain perdu au chocolate was divine – a little pot of chocolate bread and butter heaven, again not too much or too little.
So, find an excuse to meet friends up in that neck of the woods, and
let’s hope that in the meantime, Bruce and his La Buvette team find somewhere else nearby to move to. Le Petit Citron is definitely worth checking out – the food and service are great, and with Brexit looming on the horizon, a lot less hassle than a trip to France!