‘Welcome to the flamily.’ A fluorescent sign greets us as we enter Flamboree, the newly opened restaurant on Old Street.
The speciality here is tarte flambée – “flams” for short – the traditional dish of the Alsace region in north-eastern France.
Topped with crème fraiche and sustainably sourced toppings, flams are a healthier and lighter alternative to pizza, saving you from having to lie down after your meal.
Gluten-free and spelt flour bases are also available.
Flamboree is the latest offering from Neil Witney, the chef behind the esteemed La Bodegra Negra in Soho and Notting Hill’s E&O.
On the site of the original Bovril factory, the restaurant is open-plan with vibrant and colourful pop art-style posters on the walls.
With a large menu board and sleek dark wood tables and benches, it combines a diner-esque aesthetic with a more upmarket feel.
Witney has put a contemporary spin on this Alsatian classic.
“The Royal Levantine” boasts roasted peppers and aubergine, feta, tahini, pomegranate pearls and molasses and za’atar.
We opt for the “Salmon Dance” and the “Beware the Taliwang” on a gluten-free base, with a gluten-free pale ale and a lager from the selection of craft beers created especially for the restaurant by Reunion Ales.
The flams arrive quickly after being blasted for one and a half minutes in the restaurant’s bespoke fire-baking oven.
The “Salmon Dance” is slightly mild, but the richness of the crème fraiche offsets the smokiness of the salmon and the sharpness of the salsa verde, creating a subtle depth of flavour.
The “Beware the Taliwang”, however, stands out.
It is delicious – spicy, fresh, punchy and packed full of distinctive flavours. A hint of kaffir lime leaf lends it an aromatic taste, which works beautifully with the sweetness of the Indonesian soy sauce.
The flams are light but satisfying and you won’t leave hungry, especially if you treat yourself to some extras – the coriander and lemon hummus is delightfully tangy and also serves as a handy dip for leftover crusts.
My friend, a coeliac, is overjoyed with the gluten-free base, declaring it a “taste sensation”.
When it comes to dessert, we can’t resist trying the “Flam-smoree”, a sweet flam feast of sweet crème, dark chocolate sauce, white chocolate chips, crushed biscuit and roasted marshmallows, topped off with a scoop of ice cream.
It looks impressive but is inevitably too sickly sweet to enjoy for more than a few bites and the ice cream gives the dough a slight sloppiness which has so far been avoided with the savoury options.
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, the service is impeccable and with everything on the menu less than £14, it is a welcome departure from many of the area’s more expensive spots.
Amolak says that he wants the restaurant to feel like “an extension of someone’s living room”.
When we leave, we feel well and truly part of the flamily.