Thursday, 28 July 2016
A pretty and Provençal dinner at Aubaine, Mayfair
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.
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.
Fortunately, this being France and all (kinda), we had a selection of bread to nibble on whilst we sipped.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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