Sunday, January 6, 2013

Aubaine, Mayfair

Last night, John and I thought we deserved an end-of-the-short-week treat (well, going back to work in January is supremely painful), so he booked us a table at Aubaine Mayfair, one of seven restaurants in this delightfully French franchise that has locations in other similarly well-kept areas such as Kensington, Hampstead and Wimbledon.

This particular location is situated a stone's throw away from Dover Street Market and Mahiki, making it somewhat desirable for those who are into celeb-spotting, though the restaurant was curiously quiet (read: empty) for a Friday night. Then again, it was only the 4th of January and the other regular patrons were probably still enjoying their Christmas cruises around St. Barts etc.

Because we booked online, we were offered the option of the set menu, which consisted of the choice of three soups as the starter and any main course from the ala carte menu - you simply pay the price of the main only. Inspired by this, John chose the mushroom and truffle oil veloute, while I had the Jerusalem artichoke soup. Both were very similar in appearance, but were nevertheless delicious, steamy bowls of nourishment - lifting us out of our post-holiday blues straightaway. And I must say, even though I participate in bread strikes as long as I can stand it, even I couldn't keep away from the ridiculously good, very authentically French bread.

For our mains, John had the lobster spaghetti and I went for moules frites, as the last time I had the dish was atop Mont Saint-Michel, which was several, several years ago. I was surprised that both dishes were almost American-portion sized and neither of us could finish ours. Two glasses of sauvignon blanc, two macarons (made in-house) and an espresso later, our total bill came to £70 - a reminder to me that set menus are appealing, just as long as you don't order any extras.

The service at Aubaine is really faultless, though I wonder if this would have been different had the restaurant been full. What I love most about it is its interior: full of pale greys and whites, offset with a splash of bright pink and glassware filled to the brim with pastel macarons and meringues. I was thinking it's the perfect place to have a girly lunch or coffee, had it not been for the floor to ceiling back-lit shelves replete with magnums of champagne, wine and other serious-looking bottles that would also make it a sophisticated date-night/business meeting choice.

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