What can you tell us about Tratra?
It's the new restaurant that's taken over the basement of the Boundary hotel in Shoreditch (the one that's run by Prescott Conran). In charge of everything is Stéphane Reynaud, a man with nine cookbooks to his name, and a chef whose preferences lean towards charcuterie and meat - but more of that in a moment...
Where is it?
Boundary is a couple of minutes walk from Shoreditch High Street station - that's the easiest way to get there.
Where should we meet for a drink before?
If it's a good day (and there's not too much of a wait to get in) then you'll want to head up to the Boundary rooftop, easily one of the best rooftop spots in the area. A great place to have a drink in the sunshine.
There is a small bar actually in the basement restaurant, but there's also a lot more nearby than there used to be. So you could head over to the nearby Curtain hotel for a Trash Tiki drink in any of their bars, from July 2017 there'll be the nearby Nobu hotel which also has a bar, and there's also Dishoom just across the road.
Where should we sit?
Probably the best spots are the semi-booths lining the wall where you'll get a great view of the open kitchen. If you haven't been down there, it's a large space, with loads of options for big groups.
And, of course, what should we eat?
The whole experience is bet described as rich French food with a bit of added fun. And based on our dinner, we think you should order as much of that as your stomach can handle. Indeed, we'd happily recommend ordering everything that we had on the day, but have some specific recommendations too.
You absolutely must order one of the terrines (£13 each). Our pork and gingerbread terrine was one of the best we've had in recent memory - a soft mini mountain of porky goodness. If they sold this to-go in the upstairs deli, we'd be back every week. We should also mention that the terrines are available in the rooftop bar too.
The "planche" of charcuterie (£18) was also a thing to behold - an enormous plate of chorizo, saucisson and lots more. Reynaud comes from a family of butchers and pork farmers. He knows his stuff.
If there are two of you - you only need one of the above (and we'd steer you to the terrine) but for a table of four or more, get both.
Both mains were also outstanding - the suckling pig crepinette, with dates, tarragon and creamy mash (£19) was maybe not best suited for a warm summer's day but still fall-apart good regardless.
But special mention goes to the black-leg chicken with broad beans, peas and morel sauce (£22) which essentially combined many of our favourite things in a sauce that you'll want to eat with a spoon (and we did). Tip for this dish - hang onto some of the amazing bread to make sure you don't waste any of that sauce.
So should we leave room for dessert?
Hell, yes. The don't-leave-without-ordering dish is definitely the Coeur Coulant au Caramel (£8) which is a baked suet pudding filled with liquid salted caramel and surrounded by a pool of custard. Up there with our top desserts ever. We like suet pudding at the best of times and this elevated it significantly. Sounds heavy - was actually as light as a feather (albeit quite a calorific feather).
And the Mikado (£7) is also a thing of wonder. Baked filo sticks, filled with chocolate and even MORE warm chocolate sauce to dip it into. No holding back on that dessert.
One thing that immediately pops out of the menu is the black glass challenge. For £7 a glass, you are given a mystery wine in a glass and asked to guess the colour and the grape variety. If you're correct, you get a second glass for free. Even if you don't win the free glass, it's still great fun. The black glass really does completely mask the colour and we failed miserably in our guesses. The wines change between tables too, so it won't be spoiled if you overhear someone else's attempt.
Otherwise, wines start at the £27 mark, with a simpler two page list available highlighting top wines with low margins, coravin tasters, and some blowout options if your tastes go into the £100s. There's also a really decent glass of Crémant de Loire for £8.
We hadn't seen many write-ups of Tratra before visiting even though the chef has a particularly interesting background, so weren't sure what to expect. What we got was a barnstorming French meal that had a light-hearted touch and extremely enjoyable too. Recommended - and don't forget the terrine.
What: Tratra at Boundary
Where: 2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
How to book: Book online http://boundary.london/restaurant-tratra/?scroll=reservation or call 020 7729 1051
Hot Dinners were invited to Tratra. Prices are correct at the time of writing.