A renaissance (a kenaissance? a kappening?) is happening in Kentish Town, or, as people a LOT cooler than I am call it: K-Town. Considering it’s just 10 minutes’ walk (or three bus stops) away from my actual house, I should really be going here more often – and now I definitely will.

In the past few months, it’s become the place people want to open cool places in. We’d already had the epic kebab place, E Mono (still not been, but I see it’s expanded into the place that was next door to it), but now there is more. Much more. First, I found out that the Kentish Town Forum’s overspill rock pub, The Bull and Gate, is now a smart, stylish gastropub with a cocktail bar (that’s on my list). Then, a friend’s boyfriend spent months creating the very underground (literally) lounge bar, Ladies and Gents, in what used to be the actual public toilets just across from the B&G (more on that later). A place further up Fortess Road which used to be a shoe shop opened as a tiny and therefore instantly desirable restaurant called, guess what? Shoe Shop (though Giles Coren may have ruined that for any local trying to get a table).

But just towards the bottom of Fortess Road is one of the newest additions, Patron: Cave a Manger. It’s a highly authentic French bistro/brasserie (one half of the couple who owns it is French, and certainly all the staff seemed to be, too). It’s slick – from the outside you see its name etched on in gold lettering, it has net curtains halfway down the windows in that charming European way (so they can just look at people without pretending they’re not, like we do from behind ours?!) and brasserie tables and chair outside.

Inside, its cosy, with lots of wooden tables set fairly close together, against a big padded leather booth along the back wall and wooden chairs sitting opposite. There’s a bar, a small area towards the back, and an inhouse dog. I liked it immediately. The welcome was warm and friendly, and thankfully we’d booked, as within half an hour of sitting down, it was rammed (and there was queue to get in by the time we left). I came with P, as we also wanted to try out Ladies and Gents afterwards, but first we decided to warm up with a couple of – what else? – French Martinis.

They were good, and we drank them while studying the menu. It’s not long, and is divided into Small Plates, Mains, and Charcuterie & Cheese, so we sampled something from each section. To begin with we ordered the boquerones, which you can’t really mess up, as they’re just nice, oily, slippery little silver fish, and shared them and a charcuterie board. This came with chicken liver parfait, duck rillettes, saucisson and jambon cru fume with cornichons and French bread – and was so good we had to get more bread to spread the rillettes and liver parfait on. Then we shared a pot of Moules Marinieres, which came with chips, and which we dipped in the lovely garlicky, wine-y, oniony broth the mussels came in. Hot and satisfying, and washed down with a carafe of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. All in all an excellent neighbourhood joint, and one I’ll definitely go back to (Giles Coren had better stay away).

Then it was off for cocktails at Ladies and Gents, and while the drinks lists apparently changes regularly, I loved my blood orange bellini. By this time D and his mate H had joined us, along with A whose partner owns the place, and we then pretty much worked our way through the menu. A popular choice was one that tasted like a creamy chocolate milkshake and came adorned with mini eggs and cocoa powder, served in an old drinking chocolate tin. Again, there were queues to get in as we left, proof that K-Town is currently Where It Is At. Take that, Hoxton!