Magic of Le Merlin's Breton galettes
PUBLISHED: 08:25 20 June 2016
It's always disappointing to eat a meal in a restaurant and feel you could have done a better job yourself at home.
But galettes are one thing that I find nigh on impossible to replicate.
Fret no longer though, for Le Merlin, a small traditional crêperie has just sprung up in Lower Clapton Road.
Here you will find quite possibly the crispiest, tastiest savoury buckwheat pancakes this side of the channel – which would give the best in Brittany a run for their money.
It helps that the chef, Germain, is a native, who insists on using only the freshest of ingredients and homemade sauces for the toppings, like the tangy mustard sauce I had on my Andouille sausage version, priced at £7.
Part of the secret lies in leaving the batter to mature for three or four days in the fridge to render the dark ‘blé noir’ colour and a rich tasting pancake. They also have a special hob which reaches temperatures of up to 250 degrees leaving the galettes crispy and thin.
All of the cheeses and charcuterie for toppings are delivered from France and the special buckwheat flour is from a windmill in Brittany.
Served on old fashioned porcelain plates, the quality ingredients shine through, like the delectable wild mushroom topping, which comes with gruyere and bechamel sauce.
There’s a vast menu, with a classic version which comes with tangy gruyere cheese, ham and a fried egg on top, priced at a very reasonable £5.70. The variety of other toppings is impressive, with scallops, confit duck and goats cheese options.
You shouldn’t leave without trying one of the sweet crêpes too - extremely reasonably priced starting from £2.50. The caramelised apple, homemade salted butter caramel and cinnamon topping is out of this world.
Galettes are traditionally accompanied by Breton cider, and I devoured my non-pasteurised Cidre de Rhuys, made using hand-picked Breton apples, knocking the socks off most ciders you might find in a pub.
The interior is sharp and simple with a rustic feel, with dark green and cream walls contrasting with exposed brickwork, and there’s a beautiful garden out back.
The name, Le Merlin comes from the shared French and English myth about the legendary wizard, and these guys certainly know how to conjure up some culinary magic.