At some point during this meal, I realised I had hit the jackpot. Not only is Bordelaise truly authentic French cuisine, but it’s affordable, and it’s a short Tube journey from my usual London haunts. I challenge you to find me a more decently priced and bona fide steak-frites inside the M25. No, really – if there’s better French food for this price somewhere else in London, please do let me know!
Bordelaise is situated inside Broadway Market – a location which some might refer to as modest, or charming, or perhaps full of local colour. In fact, it’s an eclectic and exciting affair, with ethnic food stalls, pet shops, and hairdressers, all rammed together in the kind of chaos that makes grand cities like London so great. If you’re expecting elegant and refined surroundings, this is definitely not the place. But if you’re in for a fantastic meal with high quality food, prepared in a classically French manner, here you go.
I’ve often mentioned the fact that my husband lived in France for a year when he was at university. France and French food are two of my favourite things, and I try to visit Normandy whenever I can – it’s not glamorous and it’s not on postcards, but it’s honest, great fun, and I feel really at home there, despite my atrocious French language skills. Whenever we visit, I plan our meals meticulously, visiting as many of our favourite places as we can – tiny cafes with eccentric Engrish menus, hole-in-the-wall bistros, fondue restaurants, and our favourite buckwheat galette place – all of them with a decided lack of curb appeal and a laisse faire approach to decor. They don’t need fancy linen or crystal glasses – this is a certain kind of French chic that doesn’t try too hard, or focus on the small things. The big picture here is the food – quality ingredients, expertly prepared. And that’s what you get with Bordelaise.
So, that sets the scene for our visit. I was already charmed by the bijou interior and the classically French menu, so it’s no wonder I came away from this meal with stars in my eyes. It kicked off as most civilised meals do, with olives to nibble on (and these were fantastic: juicy, green olives with a gorgeous garlic flavour), along with dark, chewy, nutty-tasting sourdough bread from the Elephant Bakehouse, served with Lescure butter topped with crisp flakes of sea salt. Plus a glass of Prosecco, of course. We were well looked after by the manager, Angelo, a lively Italian with a passion for French cheese and a flair for warm and friendly hosting.
Because I am a massive French cheese fan (Angelo and I hit it off right away) I also decided to start with the Bordelaise cheese platter. You can select three or five pieces of cheese from their generous cheese board heaped with eight different varieties when we visited – Livarot, Morbier, Comté, Brie, Roquefort, Bleu D’auvergne, Tomme de Savoie and St Marcellin. What a fantastic range!
It was hard to narrow it down, but eventually we plumped for Tomme de Savoie, Comté, Livarot, Brie and Morbier, which was served with a delightful chutney, and more scrumptious bread.
What can you say about such a beautifully curated selection of cheeses? All of these are top-notch quality cheese – Livarot being a particular favourite of mine! I’d never tried Morbier before and that will definitely be making it onto my future shopping lists. It’s a great middle-ground between blue and non-blue, because it just has a small streak of blue in the centre. If you prefer mild, smoother cheeses, definitely try the Tomme de Savoie and Comté.
And here’s the pièce de résistance – a beautiful spread of steak, frites, sides, sauces and a lovely bottle of Roget Sabon Le Sabounet to wash it all down with! In the interests of scientific enquiry, we tried a variety of side dishes, all of which were utterly delicious.
We decided to try both of the two cuts of steak on offer. I’m a massive fan of ribeye because of its meaty taste and hearty texture, while my husband prefers more tender cuts. Bordelaise had us both covered, with a nice slab of ribeye for me, and a smooth flat-iron steak for him.
We also tried each of their sauces, as they offer both the signature Bordelaise sauce, as well as the perennially popular Béarnaise. The former is a loose red wine based sauce (bottle me some up and I’ll drink it all day long!), while the former is a wobbly, rich cousin to Hollandaise, flavoured with tarragon. It goes without saying that both were superb – and you can even order extra helpings of both sauces for a small charge of £1.50 if you wish!
I absolutely adore steak-frites, but I have to admit there are times when the meal can be a little disappointing. Limp, under-seasoned fries, poor quality, flavourless meat… Bordelaise delivered beyond my expectations in both categories, and I was completely unsurprised to see they take their steak seriously, sourcing Scotch grass-fed beef from the Rare Breed Meat Company.
Onto those sides… We tried all of the four sides that Bordelaise has to offer. Obviously the classic beef dripping French fries were the stand-out classic. The sautéed broccoli and almonds provided a pleasant crunch, and a welcome addition to the menu if you’re trying to cut out carbs or boost the healthiness of your meal. I’m always a fan of creamed spinach, and this was lushly rich and soothing. Finally, the caramelised Madeira shallots were a fantastically inspired addition to the menu; juicy and bursting with flavour.
If you’re not a steak eater, Bordelaise will still try to cater to you, with a vegetarian dish of truffled mac and cheese which is raved about on the online reviews, or braised ox cheeks with Bordelaise sauce and mashed potato, or a salad of green beans, heritage tomato and shallots with a Dijon dressing. But let’s face it, the main attraction here is that utterly delicious steak!
And now we reach the bittersweet finale – the meal is nearly over, but there’s still time for Bordelaise to impress with its finesse. The choices for dessert include chocolate fondant, dessert of the day, and Coupe Colonel, which is lemon sorbet with a vodka shot. We went for the chocolate fondant and didn’t regret a thing – silky smooth vanilla ice-cream, melting luxuriously over the top of a perfectly cooked fondant with a melting centre. I was in heaven.
Bordelaise is a fantastic place – a real gem – and I’ll always be jealous of the residents of Tooting for having such an authentic French Bistro right in the heart of the high street. Check out the Bordelaise menus here on their site. Currently, they’re offering a Steak Bun for weekend lunchtimes, and the seriously tempting French Sunday Roast, which is served with Dauphinoise potatoes and green beans for £14, or with bottomless bubbly for £24. Now that sounds like the perfect way to end le week-end! Keep an eye on their Twitter, too, because they often announce truly incredible-sounding specials – it’s @BordelaiseSW17.
My meal at Bordelaise was complimentary – photos and opinions are my own.