Tucked away in an alley in Knightsbridge is Chabrot, a French bistro with Thierrey Laborde, previously head chef of Le Gavroche, in the kitchen. The premises are tiny, with closely packed tables and a menu with a few interesting variations on the usual Gallic bistro fare. The wine list is printed on the back of the menu and is mostly French. It included choices such as the lovely Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett 2007 at £38 for a wine that you can find in the shops for around £12, Cote Rotie Patrick Jasmin 2006 at £80 for a wine that retails at about £25, the gorgeous Antinori Tignanello 2006 at £120 for a wine that will set you back £52, with a few higher end wines such as Leoville Las Cases 1985 at £280 for a wine that costs £171 to buy. I was impressed that the waiter steered me away from my initial choice to a cheaper wine, which was indeed good value: the entirely drinkable Carignan Vin de Pays Domaines de Terres Falmet at £27 for a wine that costs around £8 retail. Bread, though from an undistinguished bakery, was fresh and pleasant enough (3/10).
The best dish was warm duck liver pate (£8.50), served with a “popover” that was essentially a giant goujere, made from excellent Comte cheese (5/10). A salad of red cabbage, salad and hazelnut (£7.50) was pleasant, well balanced with a good dressing (3/10). Sirloin steak (£32), aged for 45 days, was supplied from the excellent Knightsbridge butcher O’Shea's of Knightsbridge, which supplies The Fat Duck. The steak was cooked capably to order, though the carrots (£3.50) with it were, though correctly cooked, remarkably tasteless (4/10 given the poor carrots). Chips (£3.50) were surprisingly crisp considering they were double-cooked: the potatoes were imported from France and the chips skilfully made (5/10). A special of monkfish (£21.50) was served on a bed of strips of raw carrot, the fish itself carefully cooked (4/10).
Desserts did not live up to the standard of the savoury dishes: soft chocolate cake with sesame seeds was just poor, not properly cooked and dominated by the sesame seeds, served with tasteless milk jam (0/10). Frangipane was a lot better, the almond filling taste coming through nicely (3/10). Coffee, by contrast, was excellent, Musetti Italian coffee (6/10).
Service was very good indeed, efficient and friendly. The bill was £72 a head with a quite cheap wine, so this is hardly a bargain, yet this is Knightsbridge, and you could do much worse. Although there were some weaknesses in the meal, overall this was a very pleasant experience, with some clear effort made in sourcing, and skill on show with many of the savoury dishes. I would have scored this higher if it were not for the desserts.