Les 2 Garcons | An affable French bistro in Crouch End
A blackboard is always a good sign that you’re in a French bistro.
Some other strong indicators are when you see items like entrecôte, boeuf bourguignon and escargots chalked up on said blackboard and there’s a passionately put-together selection of French wines curated by the owners, who are ever present and ready to talk your ear off (in an endearing way) if you give them an inch. Les 2 Garcons has all of these and as you may have correctly deduced… is a French bistro.
You’ll find it up in Crouch End – a North London neighbourhood with a bit of a small town vibe, known for not having a nearby tube station (the closest, Crouch Hill, is a ten minute walk) and for also having an underrated dining scene (see our guide to the best restaurants in Crouch End for proof). Les 2 Garcons is the passion project of two friends, Robert Reid (who handles the cooking side) and Jean-Christophe Slowik (who handles the front-of house side, as well as the wine), who have both worked at French restaurants for ages: in Paris, in Strasbourg, around London and at one point together in Marco Pierre White’s Oak Room (when it was a three Michelin star restaurant). The two would often discuss – over dinner and then drinks – the subject of ‘opening their own restaurant’ and this is them doing something that people don’t normally do when they fantasise about the idea: actually put it into practice…
The scene inside is French bistro though and through: wooden floors, rustic furniture, the chalkboards and a nicely-condensed, intimately-sized space with room for 20 diners. Think back to your last dream eating in a romanticised Parisian restaurant down a cobbled street and Les 2 Garcons probably wouldn’t be too far off. The food isn’t trying anything tricky either. Expect the classics, simple but refined, and cooked with a big heart. You can start with a French onion soup before shifting your attention to the mains, which might be a ribeye steak served with frites & bearnaise sauce, braised and stuffed pig trotter, or perhaps roast cod with a shellfish ragu. The blackboard is then reserved for daily specials.
The wine, meanwhile, is fussed over with warmth by Jean-Christoph. The list he’s curated is (shock) mostly set in France, with a few Italian guests, and he seems to just have an uncanny ability to pick out exactly what you’re looking for. What that is, you might not know in the moment, but he will convince you. You’ll probably be convinced to order dessert too – the gleaming greatness that is their pear tarte tatin, in particular.
It’s the best way to sign off…
NOTE: Les 2 Garcons is open Tues-Sat. You can either book on their website here, or call 020 8347 9834
Les 2 Garcons | 14 Middle Ln, London N8 8PL
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