Le Cochonnet (February 2013)

A superb local restaurant that has been an established feature of Maida Vale for many years. One of the beautiful things about Le Cochonnet is its unchanging nature: having eaten here on and off over the last 10+ years, there has been no major change either to the décor or to the menu. This is not to suggest that the Cochonnet is in any sense old-fashioned or stuck in its traditional ways. On the contrary, irrespective of time of the day/ year, there is always a good atmosphere and reliably satisfying food/ drink here. Arguably the most pleasant time to visit is in summer when the glass panes are removed from the front and the restaurant assumes a bistro-like quality, much more likely to be found on the continent than in London W9. In the evenings all year round, there is a lively feel to the place, a young(ish) crowd and relatively loud music. On the most recent occasion when visit, our party comprised two adults and two young children on a Sunday lunchtime. Despite being relatively early and so quite quiet, there was a sufficiently lively feel to the place not to detract from the experience (beyond the obvious distraction of the children). In the early Spring sunshine, the bold primary colours of the furnishings looked at their best, and the whole place felt (and indeed smelt) very fresh. The staff were very accommodating of the children and so the whole event proved highly enjoyable. I went for the Putanesca pizza, where the ingredients of pepperoni, anchovies and peppers were well balanced and the hint of chilli added an additional dimension. My adult comrade’s Mediterranean pizza was also a success, with the fresh sundried tomatoes being a stand-out feature. In both cases (and the children’s Margherits too), the pizza bases were light and the overall pizzas non-greasy. Although we just drank sparkling water on this occasion, another notable feature about the Cochonnet is its highly extensive wine list, far more detailed than one would expect from a local pizza place. There is value to be found on this list although avoid the somewhat overpriced French wines. A definite success, and no need to change a winning formula.