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April 12, 2013updated 29 Jan 2016 2:11pm

Sitwell Scoffs: Brasserie Chavot

By William Sitwell

Although I liked this man who could be an advert for five o’clock shadow, I wasn’t drawn to his food. Until now

Wikipedia informs one that the man whose work is the focus of this week’s review ‘is currently working as a chef at the eponymous restaurant Brasserie Chavot in Conduit Street’. Which comes as a surprise to me because I though Chavot’s Christian name was Eric, not Brasserie.

That aside, the Wikipedia entry is otherwise correct. Eric Chavot (pictured below) now has a brasserie in Mayfair and an exceedingly good thing this is too. Chavot is a jokey character who occasionally swears on daytime telly and who until a year or so back was cooking food at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge. His offering there was fussy and very high end. And quite frankly it wasn’t up my street. So although I liked this man who could be an advert for five o’clock shadow, I wasn’t drawn to his food. Until now.

Within the walls of his brasserie – or maybe I should say his Eric – decorated by tall columns and aged glass, I ate the best dinner I’ve had in weeks – and I’ve had some good dinners these past fortnights.

Pictured above: The dining room at Brasserie Chavot on Conduit Street

Take my snails, for example, the ‘snails bourguignon, meatball and potato espuma’ to be precise. The dish came in lovely little pot with a creamy top and with my spoon I delved deep into the mixture to pull out perfect combinations of snail and meatball. I’ve never had the two together and how beautifully they work. Not surf and turf maybe, more flood and mud. And so gooey and rich but not excessive and I wiped up every drop with the most delicious crusty bread.

My companion, eating some nimble but not quite so exciting long soft shell crab legs, eyed my prize with envy.
Have the rack of lamb!

The waitress had instructed – and I mean it – she was forceful – to go for the mini rack of lamb. I had wondered about the beef ribeye or maybe the pork. But she was having none of it.

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And what great advice. The tender little racks – rubbed in spice – had been chargrilled and were of no comparison to my friend’s duck.

Pink meat, soft to chew, with some hint of the char, the spices added bite but not punch and went so well with the lightly spiced couscous. It was served in a beautiful dark bowl and was every bit as inviting as the first course. I was ordering well and felt smug and clever and happy.

Pudding was a classic vanilla crème brulee. Just a nudge above room temperature with a perfectly crisp top. The chef sent up a floating island pudding as well just to demonstrate the refreshing beauty of cool, vanilla flecked cream and a pudding so light it seemed more cloud than island.

I had heard good things about this place – all of which seem justified. Eric can continue to not shave very well and swear on daytime telly as much as he likes. He’s at the peak of his cooking career and you need to participate. Just listen to the advice of your waitress.

Read more from Food Friday

Read more of William Sitwell’s restaurant reviews

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