Somewhere in the heart of Chelsea, tucked in a little corner, is a little bit of Paris.
Don’t believe me?
Told you. 😉
Named after Gustave Eiffel (the man behind the world’s most iconic architectural pieces), Brasserie Gustave is London’s fresh take on traditional Parisian brasseries.
Celebrating culinary classics of Gallic heritage in a lovely bright room adorned with French charm, the restaurant is the brainchild of former sommelier and Marco Pierre White’s protege Richard Weiss (Chez Bruneau, The Restaurant) and Laurence Glayzer (Harry’s, Ritz, Savoy).
C, a French food aficionado, and I went to have a nice catch up lunch at the restaurant on Sunday. They have a separate weekend roast menu but my attention is grabbed by the a la carte menu, which was recently changed to reflect seasonal offerings for Spring.
The wine list, overseen by Richard, is legendary. As it was a rare hot summer day, we decided to order a carafe of rosé from Provence and asked for ice a la piscine.
C was set to order escargot (£8 for 6/£15 for 12) to start and I convinced him to get a dozen so we can share. Unlike those from La Petite Maison, Brasserie Gustave’s escargots came already de-shelled and drowned in garlic butter. You can smell the richness of it from afar.
But man, they were absolutely gorgeous. Baked to a perfect chew, the snails were just the right size and every scoop was packed with so much balanced flavour. I liked that each escargot was topped with a crouton for a welcome play on texture and a piece of chopped tom gave it a hint of acidity, cutting through the richness of the garlic butter.
As if we didn’t have enough garlic, I opted for the ail sauvage (£8) which came with some really delicious fried frog legs. Having had a gorgeous wild garlic dish at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught recently, my expectations were set high.
But soon as our server poured that glistening green wild garlic soup onto my bowl, the aromatics hit the air and I knew I would love the dish. This was a stunning, mooth, silky, soup with great flavour sans the super garlicky aftertaste. You would kiss the chef after.
Table-side pouring continued as C’s bouillabaisse (£22) arrived. I can’t tell you enough how beautiful the seafood looked before it swam in that glistening orange soup. Fillets of grey mullet, red mullet and monkfish came aplenty and beautifully presented, almost looking regal on the plate; and the mussels were the plumpest I’ve seen in a while.
Saffron mayo and cheese
The fish soup itself was rather pleasant and I actually preferred it without the typical aioli accompaniment. There’s so much depth in its simplest form and though the flavour profile was quite bold, it came out well-balanced and perfectly seasoned. All I wanted to do was have it al fresco, preferably somewhere like Cassis whilst boat watching.
For mains, I chose the caille (£24). A celebration quail, my dish was presented beautifully with roasted fillets of the bird’s breast perched atop truffled white asparagus. Admittedly, the truffle flavour was ever so faint but I reckon that worked to the dish’s advantage as it allowed the quail, cooked to my liking if not a little over, to shine.
I also enjoyed the ballotine of quail’s leg, foie gras, prunes and hazelnuts wrapped in Bayonne ham. Quail with hazelnut is such a classic combination and I almost felt festive eating this. It was rich and sweet and slightly earthy. A flavour party of all sorts.
For dessert, we opted to share an order of crêpes suzette ala Victor (£9.5 for one serving/£13.5 for two). Sebastian, the assistant manager, set off to make our crêpes. I can imagine this to be a tedious task especially when the restaurant is packed with punters but each serving is made to order with much care.
Frankly, I’ve never had crepe Suzette swimming in sauce but when I had a slice of it I was pleasantly surprised at how in tact and firm the crepes were and how wrong was I to think it would be sickeningly sweet because it was just right. Kudos to Sebastian, and kudos to Victor (whoever he is) for a fab recipe.
Overall, I adore Brasserie Gustave. The ambience is cosy and the service has been fantastic. The wine list is definitely a strong point but the heart of it lies in the food. It’s pretty much straightforward French cooking. No twists nor fusion needed here, because they do it really really really well. Take your dates. Take your friends. Take your family. Heck, I would even suggest to just visit on your own.
Because just like Paris, Brasserie Gustave is always a good idea.