Joel Porter found himself feasting on fabulous French food at Merci Marie.
Cook up your own French feast with this roasted pumpkin soup recipe!
In terms of restaurant entrances Merci Marie is about as obscure as they come. Head down to Abbot Street car park in Dalston – location of last year’s Night Tales and now home to Lucky Chip – turn right, hit the buzzer at the huge metal gate. Head up three floors, using the fire escape, then down a long brightly lit corridor and finally you are at Merci Marie, one of East London’s best kept secrets.
Considering the restaurant is in an old warehouse turned office block, it’s a surprisingly warm and romantic spot, simply decorated with whitewashed walls, old wooden furniture and fairy lights. It’s more like stepping into somebody’s living room than a restaurant, which is a good thing in our books!
Despite the homely feel, Marie is no home-cook. Born in Provence, she set up her east London base in 2013 and has gathered a loyal local following for her superb French dishes.
During the week Merci Marie is open for breakfast and lunch, catering to local workers, but every Friday night she also opens for dinner and has just obtained a full alcohol licence – hurrah!
Although you could argue that only being open for dinner one night a week makes every week a special event, on our visit we were treated to a one-off ‘Salt and Pepper’ themed menu. With each dish Showcasing rare salts and peppers from around the world, the menu included beautiful dishes such as tuna tartare with fiery Japanese lemon pepper; pork noisette with smoked black Mexican salty butter; and autumn arancini with Welsh smoked salt.
After such incredible savoury courses, we couldn’t resist the oozy baked truffle camembert, followed by two desserts – a huge slice of banoffee pie and a chocolate fondant.
The salt and pepper menu may have been a one off but Merci Marie is open every Friday night and is well worth seeking out – if you can find it!
Merci Marie, Fitzroy House, Abbot Street, London E8 3DP – £29 for two courses and £32 for three.
Joel Porter is a London based food writer and PR. He is tweeting @joelwporter