As a vegetarian, a lifelong one at that, French cuisine is something I've always approached tentatively. For sure, France conjures up imagery of finesse and expertise and gorgeous pastries and delicatessen - but also, uninvited for me, comes along a vague association with snails and croque monsieurs and smelly roquefort et brie, non?
So I'm sure you can imagine my surprise then when my best friend, he who knows me for my obsessive vegetarianism, chose a French bistro for some Friday night supper. Le Cage Imaginaire is a tiny restaurant that nestles inconspicuously on a quaint cobbled street in the Flask Walk area of Hampstead - broadly speaking it covers all things Mediterranean (it has pasta on the menu!) but everything about it, from the setting to the service to the style of presentation screams French. Much to my delight we were offered bread and olives and wine and sparkling water; and even as we waited between courses, barely a second passed when something appetising wasn't passing between my lips.
Unfortunately (for blogging purposes, totally fortunately otherwise) the house wine was so delicious that it wasn’t long before my blog-worthy-picture-taking skills were rather considerably impaired; I came away with just one blurry rendition of my starter. Which, just in case you were wondering, is Rocamadour cheese baked with poached pear, caramelised onion and walnuts. Followed by a main of creamy mushroom linguine with goat’s cheese and parmesan shavings. And then a dessert of course, of white chocolate truffle torte. Oh la la. If ever I tasted beauty.
Le Cage Imaginaire, 16 Flask Walk, Hampstead, London NW3 1HE.