Name: Brasserie Chavot
Cost: £35-£40 per person on average for a 3-course meal excluding drinks (starters priced from £7.50 to £11.75, main courses from £16.50 to £24, and desserts from £6.50 to £7.50).
About: Few restaurants have attracted so much attention lately, and I think deservedly so in the case of Brasserie Chavot. Eric Chavot's cooking is exceptional as I found out just a couple of weeks ago. Simple, unpretentious and flavoursome, his food is some of the best brasserie-style French cooking I have experienced for a while in London.
Located on plush Conduit Street, the restaurant is elegant with a stunning mosaic tiled floor, red leather seats, and chandeliers galore. Service is friendly and well measured and despite all the glitter, it does not feel stuffy but rather is a good place for a special occasion dinner or lunch after a morning's shopping.
What We Ate: A good steak tartare is always a favourite, and this is what I ordered - Chavot's steak tartare (£9.50) was beautifully seasoned and delicious, despite the slightly unimaginative presentation.
Dr G's deep fried soft shell crab with whipped aioli (£11) was as light as air and greaseless like the best tempura I have tried in Japan. The saffron-infused aioli was a novel accompaniment, which worked well.
For main course, we shared a daube de boeuf, garniture grand-mere (£19.50). This was a rich, slow-cooked piece of beef in a richly concentrated broth, with 'grandmother's garnish' of lardons and chopped herbs.
I had the beef ribeye with bearnaise sauce (£24). Perfectly cooked, and accompanied by a piece of roast bone marrow - the perfect steak and frites (£3.75).
For dessert, we had the Mont Blanc (£7.50) - a delightful concoction of blackcurrant, plain white meringue and chestnut ice cream.
We also had the rhum baba (£6.50) - the pastry was well made, firm on the outside, soft and airy inside, having soaked up the intensely flavoured rum syrup, and served with thin shavings of fresh pineapple and a quenelle of Chantilly cream. A French classic, expertly rendered.
What We Drank: We were in the capable hands of the sommelier that evening who made all the choices for us, we were not disappointed. We started with a glass of Moët et Chandon Champagne (£13.70 per glass) and then had four different wines (2 whites and 2 reds) to partner our dishes.
The glass of 2012 Chateau Clement Termes, Gaillac (£5.50 per glass), a blend of mainly Mauzac and Muscadelle, was rich, full-bodied and with a distinct pear-drop note on the nose. It stood up nicely to my steak tartare, an unusual but excellent choice.
For Dr G's deep fried soft shell crab, he had a glass of 2008 Aladame Montagny Premier Cru (£12 per glass), by celebrated winemaker Stéphane Aladame, one of the rising stars of the younger generation of French vignerons. We thought this was a well made wine with pronounced minerality, although somewhat austere.
For the main courses, we had a glass of Le Main Martin, Vieilles Vignes, Bordeaux (£7.50 per glass). A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this had a good weight of black fruits and cherries, and hints of dried herbs.
We also had a glass of Le Grain de Folie 2011, Fronton, Chateau Plaisance (£6.50 per glass). Made from the Negrette black-skinned grape native to this part of southwest France, blended with Gamay, it was soft and round, with raspberry fruit and a silky finish.
Likes: the deep-fried soft shell crab was to die for, the rhum baba was also very good as was the rib-eye steak, bone-marrow and frites combination. I enjoyed the unusual but well-chosen wines selected by the resident sommelier.
Dislikes: it would be nice to be offered some bread with meals, a basket of bread is currently charged at £2.25.
Verdict: Great central location in plush setting, with some impeccable French brasserie-style cooking by Eric Chavot. Reasonably priced and highly recommended.