I worked in South Kensington for three and a half years and not once did I ever visit Brasserie Gustave.
A huge faux pas on my part, because it's brilliant. Like a mini slice of Paris hidden away amongst the gleaming white streets of West London.
Tom & I were invited to review the restaurant last Friday and it was such a brilliant experience that I had to write it up and share with you ASAP.
Everything was perfect from start to finish - and you don't get a much better start than being handed a cold glass of champagne as you get to grips with the menu now do you?
Named after the man who designed the Eiffle Tower (Gustave Eiffle), the menu here is...you guessed it, French.
I've always loved French food but it often comes with an element of pretence. Fiddly dishes with unprouncable names and even more confusing ingredients.
We were put straight at ease here though, the waiters are approachable and friendly, french speaking themselves and on-hand to describe the dishes and offer suggestions when you're unsure.
On their recommendation, we decided to eat our way through some classic french dishes including one I'd never tried before: escargot. (Unless you count that time me & my-stepbrother tried to make them using garden snails - blame Gordon Ramsey).
Now believe me when I tell you they are incredible. I was surprised by how much I nejoyed them but that could be partly done to the intense garlic and parsley sauce. Topped with crispy croutons to give them some added texture, I actually wished we'd gone for 12 rather than six!
As we'd plumped for the smaller serving of snails, we decided to also share a bowl of moules (£8) which came perfectly steamed in a white wine, garlic and cream sauce....with plenty of bread to mop up it all up with.
The team matched our drinks throughout the meal starting us off on an elegant and very drinkable 2013 chardonnay. I often think Chardonnay gets a bad rep but this was lovely - very alcoholic but light and fruity and perfect with both our starters.
For main course, Tom had the rib-eye (surprise, surprise) which was delicious. A really generous 220g piece of steak, cooked perfectly medium rare and served with a peppercorn sauce.
I love how sauces play such an important role in french cooking - being expertly poured by your waiter as they arrive at your table.
I ordered the lamb served three ways (£24) - a meaty cutlet, shoulder and sweetbreads. I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about sweetbreads but the shoulder piece was definitely the tastiest part of the dish and worked really well with the fresh bean fricasse which came served alongside.Wine this time around was a strong, velvety merlot - so delicious it even converted Tom who has never been a fan of red.Completing our meal was a line-up of side dishes comprised of spinach (£4) and mushroom (£4) and frites which came as part of Tom's meal.
The french are almost as well known for their desserts as they are for their artists so it would have been criminal to leave without ordering a sweet.
Tom ordered the passionfruit and chocolate 'arctic roll' but was actually served the 'Vacherin aux Fraise Gariguette et Rhubarbe' (£7.50) AKA meringue, rhubarb and strawberries.
Not realising until halfway through eating I guess was an indication as to how good it was! Beautifully presented and a lovely blend of textures and flavours.
I love the theatrics of table-side cooking so for me it had to be the crepe suzette. Three thin pancakes cooked in a caramel sauce and flambéed off with Grand Marnier, orange and lemon juice.
It's incredibly sweet and SO indulgent but also incredibly good. This is the kind of dessert where you really need to forgot about the number of calories you're consuming and just enjoy it. It's 'good for the soul' kind of cooking.
The only thing that saddened me was that it wasn't a little busier for a Friday night. This place deserves to be packed so please help me remedy this by taking yourself down for a little Paris by-way-of South Kensington action ASAP.
4 Sydney Street, South Kensington
*Our food was complimentary. All opinions are honest.