With nine days left until Brexit is supposed to happen, London has bid adieu to two quality French restaurants in quick succession. L’Absinthe, a longstanding neighbourhood bistro in Primrose Hill, has closed after 12 years; Abondance — formerly Androuet, and always a reliable source for Alpine cheeses and French wines — has shut its doors at Old Spitalfields Market.
L’Absinthe’s closure is a result of owner Jean Christophe Slowik — locally known as JC — wanting to spend more time with his family, according to Camden New Journal. Its menu of well-executed French classics, including confit duck, tarte tatin, and their bedfellows. Slowik said:
I would like to thank all our customers, friends and staff for 11 amazing years. I will miss you all dearly, but I’m taking a well-deserved break and spending time with my family. I’m sure you will see me again in the street of Primrose Hill, more likely to be having a drink on a terrace than serving it… ce n’est qu’un au revoir.
Androuet, meanwhile, rebranded to Abondance in late 2018. Owners Alex and Leo Guarneri announced that the shop had gone into administration on 6 March, citing “basic cost increase, lower sterling value, and staff recruitment difficulties” — all of these symptoms of the general impact of Brexit on London restaurant operations, and more specifically, the serious ramifications for the importing of cheese from the Continent.
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Dear friends, sadly this morning our company went into administration. Thank you all very much for supporting us till the end, we will be forever grateful to all our customers, producers and our brilliant team. Last year has been very hard, due to basic cost increase, lower sterling value, and staff recruitment difficulties. However, our passion has remained as strong until the very end. We grew so much in this big city, took many lessons, made hard mistakes and experienced invaluable moments during this journey. We want to give a massive thank you to the entire Spitalfields community and all of the great restaurants and bars we were working with. Thank you to all of our suppliers and makers for all the great products we appreciated so much. Farewell and à bientôt! Alex & Leo
The brothers ended their partnership with Androuet — the French cheesemaker and supplier established in 1909 — with that rebrand, taking the operation into their own hands after having opened in partnership with Androuet in 2010. As well as serving raclettes, cheese and charcuterie boards, and wines, the duo supplied east London’s outstanding neighbourhood restaurant Brawn, one of London’s first natural wine bars, Terroirs, and more quality restaurants.