John Gregory-Smith fell in love with French food all over again at Brasserie Chavot.
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Nothing beats eating in a rocking restaurant, with an acclaimed chef running in and out of the kitchen with glorious course after glorious course.
The restaurant in question was Brassiere Chavot. An elegant French brasserie with a Michelin star in the heart of Mayfair and the vivacious chef, crocs and all, was Eric Chavot, who treated me to an incredible feast that made me fall in love with French food again.
Inspired by the lighter coastal cuisine of Arachon near Bordeaux, Eric kicked off with a selection of starters that I would go back for on a weekly basis. A pea and octopus salad was vibrant and fresh, spiked with mint and chilli and the art-like heirloom tomato salad, slicked with aïoli and basil oil, was colourful and juicy.
Eric’s strasbourgeoise salad was like the greatest BBQ side salad I have ever tasted. The creamy glory had smoked sausage, waxy potatoes and rashers of crispy bacon lounging louchely over the top. It was dressed in a mustard mayo and topped with chilli flakes and bright green cress. Heavenly!
Finally we had the signature dish, soft shell crab. It was juicy to the max and wonderfully crisp, bettered only with a deep dunk in a musty saffron mayonnaise.
We had a large section of mains. Simple sea bream fillets with raita were perfectly cooked and charcoal grilled Woodford lamb with black olive mollassus added a fabulous spicy hit to the meal.
A pork cassoulet with pungent garlic toast was a little too deconstructed for me. It lacked that beany-stewy consistency that makes a cassoulet quite so joyous.
A rich dish of fish bourride, a Provençal version of a bouillabaisse, had a mixture of fish, prawns, scallops, fennel, olives, tomatoes and chilli. The sauce had been expertly thickened with a creamy aïoli. Each mouthful presented more layers of silky soft fishy flavours. It was utterly sublime.
For once in my greedy life I simply couldn’t eat the desserts. I was officially stuffed. So I guess I will just have to go back. Eric get ready please!
Brasserie Chavot 41 Conduit St, London W1S 2YF
For more information visit brasseriechavot.com