In case you thought there were more than enough restaurants at the Farringdon road end of Exmouth Market, let me introduce you to another one. Quietly over the last 2 months a Chinese takeaway has metamorphosed into la Ferme, a small stylish but not-at-all-trendy restaurant and shop. It couldn’t be more French if it tried.
But it doesn’t have to try. The interior is naturally airy, eclectic and personal, with shabby Provencal shutters which line the walls at the front of the restaurant, and an old cart horse harness hung from the ceiling. Ropes suspend attractive cane light fittings from the ceiling, reminiscent of a premises somewhere by the French South coast.
Focal points for the main room and the back section (nice space for small parties), are two quirky tables made in Guildford dramatically cut lengthways from a tree.
François Guerin comes from a catering family in the South West of France. He spent time in the wholesale produce markets in Paris before coming to London, and working in restaurants here to get to understand the scene. The next step was to set up in business offering French street food from a stall in Shepherd’s Market with a colleague. François and Thomas became well known for their delicious tartiflette and Burgundy Beef.
No website yet, so useful for lazy journalists. So I will tell you that the menu consists of a succession of unfussy traditional French dishes. Starters such as Salade de Rocamadour (Goats cheese, walnuts and honey) £8, Snails in garlic butter £7.50/14, a giant globe artichoke with 3 classic sauces £10 (big enough to share) are not going to astonish any London foodie used to the multiple cross-referencing of cuisines currently on offer in this city. No item on the menu is “with a twist”. A grated carrot salad is charmingly described as Plaisir de Carrottes Primeur £5.50, because that is what it is: the first of the season.
Main courses continue in a similar vein: on a recent visit I had cod with a mustard sauce and black Camargue rice with a pea mash which was completely exquisite, and well priced at £14. There was a well made Duck Parmentier with a green salad, also at £14. And a second Canard item, using the magret which indicated that whole ducks were being prepared in the kitchen to avoid waste. Seeing the baskets in the adjoining delicatessen of fat white asparagus and huge globe artichokes, you can almost inspect the ingredients before ordering. And I assure you that the goats’ cheeses and charcuterie are exceptional, served by the charming Tristan.
The menu continues with a Navarin of Lamb (perfect time of the year for this) £16 and a sirloin steak with all its accompaniments at £32. So a good range, with vegetarians catered for too: white asparagus, poached egg, morel sauce and leek compote at £13.
Desserts included a chocolate eclair £7 and tarte aux pommes with yoghourt parfait £6, to try next time.
La Ferme has opened without fuss intentionally, so the kitchen team, under Katherine Wondra and Max Hauf can practise to find out what is well received, and to perfect the systems. They promise a wonderful summer menu to be launched soon. So far there is little to correct with this professional and charming team of young people. François, Jimmy, Thomas and Tristan look forward to welcoming you!
Sound Level: Quiet to moderate
La Ferme London
102-104 Farringdon Road
Tel: 020 7837 5293