Le Marche Francais, in West Maitland Street, is ten minutes walk from my house, so consequently I’ve never been there. I have a feeling that I’ve explained this one before, but I have something of a psychological barrier to eating and/or drinking in places near my house, mainly because of the very real prospect of a member of my family spotting me and insisting upon joining.
It’s a silly notion, perhaps, but it is strange how many nearby places I’ve never visited, due to this curiously ingrained practice.
Anyhoo, in the case of Le Marche Francais, my neuroses have been getting in the way of one of the best lunchtime deals available in all of Edinburgh, which I thankfully now know all about.
I was rather late in lunching, today, as I’d mangled my calendar and not managed to gain adequate provisions prior to attending a 1pm meeting. It was well after 2pm when I finally got to my chosen lunchtime destination.
Le Marche Francais is a smart café, with a takeaway deli counter. The decor has a strong emphasis on wood and wine bottles, conveying a simple charm and a slightly down-at-heel elegance. The service was welcoming, and I was invited to sit at my choice of tables.
Contemplating the menu, I noticed their excellent lunchtime deal, which comprised soup, either their plat du jour or a choice of options along the croque monsieur lines, and a coffee, for the princely sum of £6.95. I wasn’t too sure whether they would still be offering this deal at this hour, but as what I was after was soup, a croque madame and an espresso, I figured I’d spin the wheel and see what I got charged.
Soup of the day was Highland vegetable. Arriving almost immediately, it looked like one of those health-enhancing broths upon which you could happily subsist for your entire life without a single ailment troubling your fortified constitution. And that’s very much how it tasted, with an almost limitless depth of flavour giving a real sense of all that is good about simple, peasant food. It came accompanied with excellent hand-crafted bread, as you would expect.
I very much enjoyed the croque madame, as well. I’m very much one of those folks that thinks that the addition of a soft poached or fried egg to the top of almost any dish is going to improve matters, so the croque madame (which is essentially a croque monsieur given this treatment) is always a winner. By the standards of some of the intensely buttery, artery-hardening ones I’ve tried in the past, this was light and verging on the virtuous, particular with the lightly dressed side-salad that came with it.
With good espresso to round things out, I was left to see whether I was pushing my lunchtime-offer-luck. But I needn’t have worried, as £6.95 was indeed the charge levied. As such, I think it represents one of the best lunchtime deals I’ve come across in all our questing.
The quality of dishes on offer is really good, and the place has a relaxed and welcoming feel to it. I think it’s fair to say that I’ll be back as often as I’m certain there are no family members in the neighbourhood to interrupt my lunchtime enjoyment!
Blythe scores Le Marche Francais:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: vegetable soup; croque madame
I drank: water, espresso
I wore: navy three piece suit
Total bill: £6.95