Test Drives

Test Driving P Franco - an inventive kitchen in a Clapton wine bar

So what is P Franco?

It's a lovely looking wine bar in Clapton, almost directly opposite the big Round Chapel there. And it's hosting one of London's hottest chefs behind two induction hobs. 

So who is it behind the food?

He's William Gleave and was formerly at extremely well respected Tasmanian restaurant Garagistes. When that closed, he came back to London and settled in P Franco. We've been hearing nothing but great things about his food since he started - much of it from celebrated chefs who have been throwing praise his way. So that got our attention enough to pay a visit. 

And what's the set up there? 

It's pretty extraordinary. Over the years we've occasionally been VERY impressed with what chefs manage to achieve with small spaces and it's the same here. He's set up at the back of the long central table in P Franco, armed with just his ingredients and a couple of induction hobs. And out of that set-up comes some pretty incredible food. 

What sort of things can we expect?

Bits and pieces of the menu change regularly - a few dishes we tried have already moved on, but the main starting place is the chef's house made stracciatella with le coste olive oil. This is essentially a large bowl of some of the best soft cheese we've had in an age. You can - and will -  eat this up with a spoon. Worth crossing town for. 

The smoked mackerel broth with mussels and curry leaf was both one of the strangest looking dishes and best broths we've had. Lovely soft mussels swimming in a warming broth that feels like it would cure any cold. 

And the goat's milk ice cream was great - but made even better with the addition of whey caramel with vinegar. Something which doesn't sound like it should work but oh so does. 

And the drink?

Combining both shop and wine bar, you can peruse the shelves for something that takes your fancy or get some recommendations from the extremely helpful staff on hand. We have to be honest - we've actually forgotten what we had on the night, just that it was a sauvignon that made us completely re-think our current avoidance of that wine (due to, shall we say, previous over-sampling of it). 

Overall?

It's very clear that William Gleave is someone to watch. If this is what he can manage with just a tiny space, then big things are almost certainly coming from him in the future (hopefully still in London). In the meantime, if you're serious about your love of food, you need to make it over to P Franco.

P Franco is at 107 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0NP. Find out more about P Franco

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