Fear is not something I want to associate with a restaurant, but in this case it was (in a backstreet murderer way rather than the dream about waking up naked at school, but I’ll get back to that in a minute).
The Boneville is barely advertised by its faded sign, sitting on Lower Clapton Road like it has been there for decades. The restaurant recreates the café culture of France, walking through a huge felt curtain to enter the establishment which ruffles up your hair (as if it wasn’t messy enough already).
The Bonneville took over the site of an old Irish boozer last year and the chances of navvies coming in for a pint of mild are unlikely now. The dimly lit room has a glowing bar area to one side and a rear dining room which sits under a curved ceiling complete with stained-glass window. There is taxidermy on the walls which appears to be making a resurgence in East London lately.
My companion arrived at 8, Mrs TLE took a night off (AKA was drunk in another part of town). We sat at the bar for a drink, with a fine selection of ales and my lager was served in a frosted glass; being from the North I still associate this with glamour and high-society, I am easily pleased. My companion, a TV exec who lives close-by, was not as bowled over by a cold glass as I, more fool him.
We took our seats and for a Tuesday it was pretty busy. He opted for the black pudding and apple entrée (it had a much posher name than that) and the Duck cassoulet. I went for Ham Hock with Kholtabi salad and Bass with clams, leeks and new potatoes.
Both courses were served with style befitting of a venue of this standard. Both starters and mains were devoured with gusto.
My companion slugged back a couple of glasses of the “most expensive merlot” and I went for the sauvignon blanc, which was clean and crisp and perfectly accompanied my seafood based main course.
We rounded off the meal with a liqueur coffee each, and were left fully satisfied and slightly drunk.
Now to return to the fear issue, I mentioned at the start of the article. As I walked down to the toilet, dry ice (I hadn’t seen dry ice since my Magaluf ’99 trip) menacingly floated up from the floor, recreating a back lane in the old east end.
I half expected Jack the ripper to jump out and garrotte me. You might think that sounds a bit tacky but it isn’t, it worked. I was too scared to urinate.
Yes it’s very trendy (what do you expect from a Parisian themed establishment on Lower Clapton Rd) and the toilet trip was terrifying. But my uber-east London companion, who lives around the corner enjoyed it, so that is a good enough recommendation for a lot of people who might decide to pop down and experience it.
The Bonneville can be found at 43, Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0PQ or visit www.thebonneville.co.uk