Thursday, 28 July 2016

A pretty and Provençal dinner at Aubaine, Mayfair

It was a mild but grey summery evening that I met Liv at the Mayfair branch of classy french resto, Aubaine.

Never been? I hadn't either. But, I mean, the name itself sounds classy and French if you ask me.

With a selection of branches across London - and a couple in Dubai, classic - I'd heard good things about Aubaine. And when I was told about their new Provençal menu, I was keen to give it a try.

OK, I'm going to level with you: the main connotation that springs to my mind when thinking about Provence is rosé wine, rather than food. And rosé always (I say always, I mean since last summer) takes me back to last summer in Aix-en-Provence where my dear friend Amber and I drank bargainous glasses of the stuff in a big cobbled square as the sun went down.

But as you may or may not know, I like food too. So an evening at Aubaine was most appealing.

The restaurant interior is sophisticated with distinct summery garden vibes. I was surprised by just how big it was and on the Wednesday evening we visited, it wasn't particularly busy.
We were warmly welcomed, however, and duly sat down at our cute little table à deux.
All the staff we encountered were legit French, yet they bucked the stereotype by being utterly charming, friendly and efficient.

I was caught off guard when, upon arriving to take our order, our waiter immediately asked whether we spoke French. In French. And as two French graduates, we sprung into action and lapped up the compliments on our accents. They know their way to a good review, those Frenchies. (I'm joking.)

To kick things off, we both went for the lavender apple collins: dry gin, lavender syrup, apple juice and lime. It was, I'm tempted to say, the perfect summery drink. Not too strong but lovely, refreshing and fragrant, it was a cocktail that definitely evoked the south of France and slipped down far too easily. They'd nailed it.
Pretty too, eh?

Fortunately, this being France and all (kinda), we had a selection of bread to nibble on whilst we sipped.
You know how bread in France just tastes different to bread in the UK? Well, this was that, if you get me. It was crusty and chewy but soft in that authentic French way. With a generous slather of some lightly salted butter (which, I might add, was the ideal consistency), it was perfection.

Now, to the main reason we came.

No, not wine, what ARE you insinuating!? (But we'll get to that).

The main menu.

There's a small choice of three starters, four mains and three puddings on Aubaine's Provençal menu, costing a highly reasonable £15.50 for two courses or £19.50 for three.

On the recommendation of our waiter, Liv chose the Provençale pistou with Bayonne ham to start, whilst I went for the Faisselle. But, naturally, we shared both.
I thought the pistou (above) was really very tasty and rather unique - it was essentially pasta, kidney beans, cheese, tomato and ham in a light pesto soup. Sounds bizarre, I'll accept, but it was extremely flavoursome.
La Faisselle, as you can see, was a very pretty creation. If you don't already know - and I'm not going to pretend I did - Faisselle is sort of like the love-child of soft cheese and fromage frais, but slightly savoury. It was unlike anything I'd ever tasted, somehow being both creamy and crumbly.

I appreciated the edible flowers and the red pepper coulis was a delightfully tangy but sweet complement, but I did feel it needed bread. Luckily there was no shortage.

And to ensure the Provençal vibe stayed strong throughout the evening, we decided it must be rosé time.
 It was crisp but sweet, light but floral and delicious with our food on a summer evening.

The service was quick but we had just enough digestion time before our main courses arrived.

Shunning the bouillabaisse, chicken breast and steak, Liv and I both opted for the Provençale tart, with a side salad to share, as recommended.
Preeetty healthy, right? I know, get us. (Jokes, pudding was coming).

Despite its rather small size, the tart was scrumptious, expertly layering flaky pastry, goat's cheese, confit tomatoes, roasted courgette and pepper coulis.

The pastry was crisp and not in the slightest bit soggy, the veg cooked to perfection - I am not a tomato fan but even I liked these. With the creamy goat's cheese, there was a great texture combination in every mouthful.

Our side salad was crisp and lightly dressed, and despite being simply leaves, it was nice. It was a light main, but that was enjoyable. It turns out one can really rather enjoy a meal when one doesn't end up needing to unbutton one's jeans and lie down.

The pudding situation wasn't quite what we'd been expecting. Instead of making our choice from the menu - I was eyeing up the strawbs with crème pâtissière - we were brought a slate of three pâtisseries from which to choose one each.

There was a macaron, a Tarte Tropézienne (which we learned was a fave of Brigitte Bardot) and an éclair.

We decided to share the two former.
The textures in the macaron were excellent - crisp but chewy and spongey, with a sweet creamy middle - but it wasn't overly flavoursome. It seemed to be slightly chilled (sacré bleu!) and you only got the vanilla flavour at the end. Also, just one macaron for a pudding? Please. It was verging on a petit four.
Unfortunately the Tarte Tropézienne didn't wow me either. I found the combination of brioche dough with a layer of cream a bit meh. Dunno what Brigitte was on about.

I mean, it was perfectly fine. But it seemed like more of a breakfast or afternoon tea treat than a pudding, you feel me?

I'm glad I tried it though as I hadn't ever done before. Geez, some French grad I am.

We finished off with some lovely teas - fresh mint with honey for me and a lavender and jasmine green for Liv.

I really liked Aubaine and will definitely go back. The service was faultless, it was pretty, the food was good quality and there was hand cream in the loos. Always a good sign, don't you think? Plus, I've totally stalked the rest of the menu and it looks délicieux. Just sayin'.

Plus, you know.. Gotta take the opportunity to practice my French. Ahem.

Liv and I were guests at Aubaine but all opinions are my own. Plus a few of Liv's.


  1. This sounds lovely - the main courses look delicious and it sounds like fair prices too. I'm also rather craving a glass of rosé now! Shame about the desserts, I think I'd probably just have to skip those and head somewhere else in search of pudding. I love the fact that the staff spoke French though - I haven't had much use for speaking French the past few years so I like the idea of using it without having to leave the country! (Although I'd totally head for a holiday in France if I could...)
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    1. You're so right, Jenny. And I know, so fun to speak French. And if you can't escape to France, a French restaurant must be the next best thing :) x

  2. This all looks delightful (although I agree, the puddings look like they good be a lot more puddingy for my tastes!) Love the way they spoke French - I would definitely have tried to give it a go and would NOT have received any compliments on my accent but there you have it :) xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Food, Travel, Italy

    1. Thanks Lucy, glad you're with me. You'll have to go and give the French a shot! x


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