Boulangerie François pop-up on Shaftesbury Avenue
The restaurant pop-up craze shows no sign of abating in London, where appetites rumble constantly for something new. Satisfying the expectations of critical Londoners is no easy task, yet Grey Goose vodka has made it look effortless with Boulangerie François, a free, donation only pop-up on Soho’s Shaftesbury Avenue.
The old-fashioned bakery was named in honour of François Thibault, the man who stunned the drinks industry in the late 90s by producing Grey Goose vodka using wheat from Picardie. Located in France’s Cognac region, the wheat was already being used to create bread – a taste of which can be found at the pop-up boulangerie.
The venue was attractive yet unassuming: painted ceilings and tiled walls, four wooden tables and a tiny counter. Of course, this was no ordinary boulangerie: Grey Goose has a long-standing reputation for innovation. After sampling a tasty bread roll and Grey Goose Confitures flavoured with the brand’s vodkas – La Poire , L’ Orange and Lemon – those on a guest-list passed through a secret door to party within a hidden speakeasy!
The vibrant haven was dominated by a beautiful curved bar, behind which stood rows of French crystal, twinkling like starlight beneath illuminated bottles of Grey Goose vodka. Guests dined either at the counter or at wall-side tables, listening to a mix of DJ tunes and a live orchestra.
As our evening progressed, a French singer performed to an accompanying accordion, violin and cello, transporting us to 1920s France and a world far beyond our own. There were eight cocktails to choose from, exploring different parts of the human palette: bitter, salty, sweet, sour and umami. The complex creations included Grey Goose Dom La Poire, made with flavoured vodka, Benedictine and Cognac. A slice of pear infused with Roquefort was perched upon the glass and alternating bites of the fruit with sips of the liquid emphasised the saltiness against the sweet.
Another stand-out was Grey Goose La Miel Amer – orange vodka blended with grapefruit and bittered blossom honey to taste like breakfast jam. A pint mug of Grey Goose Picardie Mule was also a favourite. The concoction of Grey Goose vodka, pineapple, lime juice, stem ginger, nutmeg and CO2, tasted like Christmas cake and had a mouth-watering aroma.
The food menu of hot and cold small plates didn’t disappoint either, particularly Skillet of Coq au Vin and Croque Monsieur with Gruyere and Dijon. A silky Chicken Parfait with Plum and Toasted Brioche was flavoured with truffle and Pickled Ratatouille with Negrone Figs and Bayonne Ham was wonderfully piquant.
A glorious trio of mini desserts ended the feast: Raspberry Macaroon with Viola, Tarte Au Chocolat with Praline and Gold, and Fondant Eclair with Crème Chantilly. The pièce de résistance was a private vodka tasting session with Thibault – a charming host with a genuine passion for his craft.
Upon leaving the venue, guests were presented with a bag of Picardie wheat rolls and a mini jar of Grey Goose Confitures: a thoughtful finish to a flawless evening.
For further information about Grey Goose’s Boulangerie François and future events visit here.