We have recently been gifted with The French House – a fantastique new addition to the vibrant Crystal Palace dining scene. Opening for breakfast, this daytime cafe then turns into a restaurant and bar, ensuring all food and drink needs are covered.
There are plenty of excellent neighbourhood restaurants, particularly in this area, but there’s something different about this place that sets it apart from a classic French bistro. The French House is styled around a specific genre of music from the 60’s and 70’s called Ye Ye. It’s described as “colourful and camp mod-esque” and a bit “tongue and cheek”.
Throughout the restaurant (and in les toilettes) there are images of Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, and Jane Birkin looking cool and moody, and their music drifts in the background. Original magazine pages from the period cover the walls, and a Welsh dresser displays questionable album covers from the era. This is not a naff themed restaurant though – the atmosphere might be fun, but the food is a serious business.
Owner Audrey O’Neill opened The French House in East Dulwich 18 months ago so this is her second branch to date. She hails from the Alsace region of France, an area I don’t know despite having spent many happy holidays in France over the years.
The menu includes regional specialities – tartes flambées, choucroute, raclette, fondue, plus other French classics such as bouf bourguignon and onion soup. Fresh ingredients are sourced from small French producers and French wines (including Alsatian varieties) are imported directly. Coffee is from the Square Mile Roastery in Shoreditch.
During my lunch visit I ordered a Tartine – French sourdough bread topped with mushrooms, lardons and Reblochon cheese. It was served with an endive salad and was delicious – a generous portion for £9. My friend ordered a Tart Flambees – a wafer thin dough topped with creme fraiche, onions, cheese and smoked salmon. It was huge but incredibly light and a bit different to a pizza.
Staff here are charming, attentive and French and prices are very reasonable. I’ve visited for drinks, breakfast and lunch so far and am looking forward to trying something more hearty in the evening. Live music is on the horizon too which always goes down well with the Palatians.
There’s even a little shop to purchase some traditional French items such as biscuits and Cremant sparkling wine.
I wish Audrey and her team the best of luck – Sante!!