What: The first bricks and mortar restaurant for the French-focused Monsieur Le Duck, whose pop-up premises in Spitalfields made waves with many (including Jay Rayner).
Who: Richard Humphreys, who opted to pursue his passion for food and open Monsieur Le Duck after deciding that working at a metals trading company wasn’t for him. Driven by his love of South West France (where he has holidayed almost every year since he was a child) and a belief that there was a serious shortage of French-style duck restaurants in the capital, Humphreys found a pair of investors who shared his love of Gascon gastronomy and set to work with the launch of the Monsieur Le Duck pop up in November 2018.
The food: The menu is more extensive than it was in Spitalfields, but the focus remains on serving traditional Gascon-style cooking with a few contemporary flourishes. As such vegetarian options don’t stretch much further than a vegetable tart and baked camembert, but the duck selection is plentiful. Starters include rillettes with bread and cornichons, and confit duck croquettes served on a bed of truffle mayonnaise; while mains feature Moulard duck breast, which is either pan roasted or chargrilled and served medium rare, and a duck burger made from Barbary duck leg mince, and served with prune mayonnaise and baby gem lettuce on a brioche bun. Sides include seasonal greens cooked with lardons, green beans fried in garlic butter, and fries served with truffle oil. Then there’s the puddings. France has long been famed for its desserts, and Monsieur Le Duck adheres to that high standard. As well as a traditional crème brûlée and tarte au pommes, there’s a dark chocolate mousse generously topped with whipped cream.
The vibe: Monsieur Le Duck is inspired by the douceur de vivre of Gascony, which translates as “sweetness of living” and relates to a leisurely and rustic lifestyle. As such the restaurant’s interiors, with a central wooden bar, exposed brick walls and low lighting, accentuate a warm and relaxing ambience. With 80-covers spread over two floors, it’s a trendy and inviting space, if perhaps a little lacking in the visual flair that’s often synonymous with brasseries on this side of the Channel.
And another thing: This isn’t the only pop up chain to be moving into permanent premises this month. Also about to open is Indian-inspired burger concept Baba G’s, securing a site in Camden Market’s North Yard. And in Tooting, street food chicken brand Orange Buffalo is about to launch its first bricks and mortar restaurant too.