Comptoir Gascon is the offspring of the City foie gras heaven that is Club Gascon. It started life as a deli on the other side of Smithfield market, full of tempting but pricey gastronomic tit bits. Earlier this year they squeezed up their food laden shelves and fitted in a few dark-wood tables. The size of the place, its newness and good reviews in the press mean it's actually relatively hard to book a table, although there is an option of eating at the bar. The menu is French and fairly simple, supplemented by a few specials on the blackboard. There is no clear split between starters and mains, although our portions were of a good size. I had salade Landaise from the blackboard - tender green beans, with specs of foie gras, and slices of cured duck meat. My companion had hearty Cassoulet Toulousain. Most dishes fall in the £10-£15 price bracket. There is a good selection of wines - by the bottle, by the glass (from £3.50) and by the 45cl carafe called a fillette (£7.50). To finish off I was greedy and had foie gras, which - at £10 - came in two very generous slabs with some nice toasted bread with bits in. They add on a 12.5 percent service charge to the final bill.
There are tealights on the tables and the deli-laden shelves add to the cosy yet trendy atmosphere. The service was quite friendly, if a little absent-minded. Overall, even with the foie gras, it was a well-priced and tasty meal and I would happily go back for seconds.
Comptoir Gascon, 61-63 Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HJ; Tel. 0207 608 80851; Tube: Barbican or Farringdon