We Love London: Brasserie Chavot

bc_02v2Spotlight: Brasserie Chavot
41 Conduit Street, Mayfair
brasseriechavot.com

 

Before I came to visit London, a lot of my friends and colleagues warned me that the food across the Pond wasn’t exactly five-star worthy. In my head, I pictured an endless line of plates piled high with greasy fish ’n’ chips, cold lumps of mash and mushy peas. However, after dining at Brasserie Chavot on my first night in the city, I am happy to report that all those tales of terrible London food are a thing of the past: This city knows how to cook.

If Brasserie Chavot doesn’t sound familiar, it’s probably because it’s still quite new: The restaurant’s doors opened to the public in March 2013 (to rave reviews, I might add). A stuffy, pseudo-French restaurant this is not. Brasserie Chavot is the real deal.

Born in France, executive chef and owner Eric Chavot has spent the past few years in London trying to bring the creative vision he had of opening his own restaurant at the age of fourteen to life in the most fantastic of ways. Before that, though, Chavot spent time working with some of the greatest culinary artists in the world: He held esteemed and highly-coveted positions at restaurants such as London’s La Tante Clair and Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison. (Chavot also famously held two Michelin stars for a period of ten years after he joined the team at The Capital Restaurant in Knightsbridge as head chef.)

So what is the Brasserie Chavot experience like? Two words: Pure opulence. As I walk into the restaurant, I am immediately taken with the décor: Rich, red leather banquettes climb halfway up the walls to my left, while a series of small, elegant tables laid with fine china are placed throughout the remainder of the space. (The impressive leather banquettes are a nod to the space’s history: it used to house a leather shop.)

bc_04v2

Although the space is moderately large, I feel as though I am sitting down to eat in my own private restaurant. This feeling of very private, personalised service has at least a little something to do with the kind and very generous waiting staff who cater to my every need. When I confess that I am unsure of which white wine will best compliment the home-cured salmon I ordered as an appetizer, my waitress is more than happy to offer me her expert opinion.

The delicately arranged salmon (complete with gravlax dressing) is followed by a miniature rack of lamb with couscous and creamy mash. (Coming as I do from the Southern U.S., trust that it is a big deal when I say that these mashed potatoes are like something out of every foodie’s dream.) If my meal doesn’t seem wonderful enough, never fear—there are plenty of other delectable dishes on the menu, from snails bourguignon to choucroute garnie, all which feature locally-sourced ingredients from France and the British Isles.

And what meal wouldn’t be complete without dessert? I sample a lovely cheesecake—compliments of Monsieur Chavot—and some pistachio concoction that causes me to rethink my decision to cut desserts out of my diet.

Just as I am about to head off for a night cap, out traipses Eric Chavot himself. He is all smiles and jovial laughter as he embraces me and covers my cheeks in a flurry of kisses. Waving a friendly greeting to the staff out on the floor, he nestles himself down beside me on the banquette and begins to treat me to a tale that ends up encompassing not just the brief history of Brasserie Chavot, but his life’s history as well. When Chavot speaks about his namesake restaurant and the food that he has created here, his eyes light up—I swear, they’re literally sparkling. “Ever since I was a little boy, this”—he reaches out and sweeps his hand through the air—“is what I’ve always dreamed of.”

This restaurant, this food … the entire experience of dining at Brasserie Chavot is the result of Chavot’s love of cooking. And, as far as experiences go, this is one that I won’t soon forget.