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Art & Culture / The Hunger

After the Archers at Primeur

In this column, Ananda Pellerin and Neil Wissink uncover the secret pleasures of the gastronome

Half lobster with jersey royals
Half lobster with jersey royals Photography by Neil Wissink

Discovering the delights of new neighbourhood restaurant Primeur

The menu:

Jamon de Tereul

British asparagus

Cod, creamed leeks and bacon

Half lobster, garlic butter and jersey royals

Meringue, strawberries and vanilla cream

Approaching Primeur from Highbury New Park Road, you wander down a church lane before reaching the wide, tree-lined residential bastion that is Petherton Road. With tall brown-brick Victorian houses as far as the eye can see, it is a pastoral part of the world, and the perfect home for this new bistro from David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim.

With thirty years of restaurant experience between them, Jeremie (front of house) and David (in the kitchen) are consummate pros. Deciding they didn’t want to set up shop in Shoreditch, Soho or the West End, what they’ve created instead is a heaven-sent local eatery for those living in Highbury, Finsbury Park, Stoke Newington and surrounds, and most certainly a destination restaurant for the rest of us.

"It is a heaven-sent local eatery for those living in Highbury, Finsbury Park, Stoke Newington and surrounds"

Situated in an old garage, Primeur’s front doors slide wide open onto the sidewalk, allowing for an inside/outside illusion. “It’s a different speed here,” French-born Jeremie tells us over a glass of smooth macon viognier – one of many wines from a beautifully curated selection from small producers. “After fifteen years working at other places, you pick out what works and what you like, and get rid of your pet hates. Here the design is minimalist because we didn’t have the money to go crazy, but that was quite good.”

Meringue, strawberries and vanilla cream
Meringue, strawberries and vanilla cream Photography by Neil Wissink
White walls with fluorescent ceiling lights that would do Dan Flavin proud; long sharing tables that still offer intimacy; WCs with a hint of rustic charm; an open kitchen; no music; beautiful tableware sourced from markets in the south of France – they haven’t missed a trick here. And while Jeremie insists that everything has a purpose – that nothing is decorative, everything is, too.

Where the aesthetics of place are impeccable, so too is the attention to detail in the kitchen. Ingredients sourced from Britain and Paris’s Rungis market make their way into old-world dishes with fresh contemporary flair and a decadent touch. The cod with creamed leeks and bacon was a testament to keen culinary timing. So was the British asparagus and the half-lobster in garlic butter.

As the evening settles in and we make short work of our starters, other diners begin to wander in. “The rush here starts after the Archers,” Jeremie tells us. “I think people are secretly listening to the Archers at home, and as soon as it’s over, it’s out to dinner. This place works to the rhythm of Radio 4.” Whether you visit Primeur with friends, family or partner, go soon. This is the kind of rare setting that drives away disappointment, whatever the time of day.

What we love about Primeur: fresh ingredients from Rungis market; minimalist fluorescent lights; attention to detail in everything.

Primeur is at 116 PETHERTON ROAD, London N5 2RT.

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