I was intrigued to read that an up-market French bistro specialising in steak frites had opened inside one of Tooting's two indoor markets. I've long been a fan of these cheerful, bustling spaces; of late there's been a distinct trend to gentrification with new cafes, delicatessens, craft and vintage shops setting up alongside the fruit and veg and bolts of Indian fabric.
Classy steaks and a warm welcome
Bordelaise is inside Broadway Market, Tooting High Street, and is small and dark and cosy, with handsomely patterned traditional floor tiles and a comfortable assortment of wooden tables and chairs and vintage accessories. It seats 30 and has a few tables outside in the market too.
When we visited on a Friday lunchtime the place was busy, but we received a warm welcome and good service from its friendly staff.
Incidentally, payment is cash-only, and should you ask to visit the loo, you will be issued with a key and directed to the somewhat basic stallholders' facilities in the market outside.
A sensible short menu
Sensibly given the space constraints and the small kitchen Bordelaise offers just a short menu, focussing on cooking just a few dishes but doing those well. It is also evidently canny about purchasing quality - all their beef is Scottish, from the Rare Breed Company, and we were impressed by the olives and the sourdough bread (from the Elephant Bakehouse) and Lescure butter offered with our initial glass of Prosecco.
There was a lavish cheese board on offer too, and we felt tempted to make our lunch off that, but in the interests of research we kicked off instead with new season asparagus, served with Bearnaise sauce and a bread-crumbed deep fried egg. This proved just superb - delicious, melt-in-the-mouth flavours and a very happy combination of textures. By now we had moved on to a glass each of the house wine - Vignes d'Oc Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, both more than acceptable.
Beautifully cooked steak and a delicious dessert
For the main course it had to be steak - one rib-eye, again with Bearnaise, one flat-iron with Bordelaise sauce. Lovely tender well-flavoured meat, beautifully cooked. We also really rated our veg - creamed spinach, peas and caramelised Madeira shallots. Our frites were acceptable but didn't we felt reach quite the same standard, despite being cooked in beef dripping.
Then we allowed ourselves to be tempted into trying Chocolat Fondant, with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce. Very rich, very delicious. After that we only had room for an expresso.
We very much enjoyed our lunch - lovely food, lovely atmosphere, lovely service - and felt that Bordelaise is a very welcome addition to the Tooting restaurant scene. www.facebook.com/bordelaise.uk