The website for Primeur gives very little away – the only bit of helpful information is that they only take ‘face to face reservations’. Even the map is so vague you’d need a degree in orienteering to find the place. But I somehow managed to end up there (it’s somewhere between Highbury and Islington and Canonbury) for a weeknight dinner and found it rather charming.
Based in an old garage called Barnes Motors on an eerily quiet residential street, it felt every bit a ‘neighbourhood restaurant’. The old garage shutter is still in use, meaning on a balmy evening the whole front opens up which is a really lovely touch. Inside they’ve opted for communal tables, which I imagine wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it does add to the whole ‘sharing is caring’ vibe of the place.
The ever changing menu was written on the blackboard and dishes were of sharing size. Some good bread with butter got things off to a pleasant start – the spiced aubergine with tomato and Greek yoghurt (£6.50) was a great dunker for it too.
The pork terrine (£8) wasn’t at all grainy which is often the case; here the meat was moist, succulent and really flavoursome. Jesus sausage (£7) and jamón de tervel (£8) were both really lovely pieces of pig.
I was less keen on the mackerel with steamed gooseberries (£12) but that’s probably down to my dislike of gooseberries – they’re just so tangy and they always overpower whatever they’re served with. The cuttlefish, lemon, capers and parsley (£8) was far more up my street – the fish was cooked beautifully and the flavour combinations were spot on.
The beef rump with snails in garlic butter (£15) and the pork belly with sea beets (£13) were the best dishes. The beef was tender and there was loads of it too, whilst the snails added a most welcome saltiness. The pork belly was served with a thin sheet of crisp, salty crackling which was divine and the meat was perfectly cooked.
Instead of a pud, we opted for cheese (£9) and I couldn’t tell you what they were, as our waiter plonked them down with no explanation – but there was a soft one, a hard one and a stinky one. All three were bloody lovely.
As it’s so far away from me, I doubt I’ll become a regular at Primeur – once you’ve thrown in a couple of bottles of plonk and an Uber ride home, it makes for quite an expensive evening. But if I lived nearby, I’d be excited at the prospect of a great new local restaurant.