Eric Chavot returns to London

Thursday, March 14th , 2013

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Brasserie Chavot (pictured) marks the return to London of Eric Chavot, who for a decade was the two Michelin star head chef of The Capital. I was far from impressed with the bistro offerings of Bruno Loubet and Joel Antunes, both fine chefs that returned to London in recent years, so I was rather nervous about Brasserie Chavot. Would this be a cynical, money-making operation serving mediocre food at high prices? Fortunately I need not have worried. Eric Chavot delivered a really excellent meal, even though the restaurant had barely opened. Moreover the dining room looks lovely, and I am sure this will prosper. Welcome back Eric.

La Trompette had been closed for refurbishment but also a chef change after a serious downgrade of its hygiene rating to one star and a notice from the local council to improve its standards in October 2012. Owner Nigel Platts Martin didn’t take any chances and installed Rob Weston, the head chef at The Square under Phil Howard for many years. The restaurant has an extended dining room, fresher décor and, most importantly, a better chef. Not only is Mr Weston familiar with the “location and content of the food safety manual”, which apparently was more than his predecessor, he can cook a lot better too. I had previously downgraded La Trompette a point in my scoring system and, based on the last meal I had there, was on the verge of reducing the score even further, but things are definitely turning around based on my meal there this week. It is good to see a local restaurant back on form.

Speaking of local restaurants on form, Hedone delivered a particularly fine meal this week. Photos of the dishes can be seen in the gallery, highlights being asparagus from Luberon with black truffles, excellent langoustine, stunning sea bass and pigeon with superb peas from Italy. A new dessert, a chocolate ganache with passion fruit topped with a chocolate disc coated with raspberry powder and served with vanilla ice cream was superbly balanced. Since they gained their first Michelin star head chef Mikael Jonsson has been able to recruit more experienced chefs, and now all but one person in the kitchen have worked at a two or three star Michelin restaurant; this shows in the greater polish and consistency of the dishes. This was the best overall meal I have eaten at Hedone, the kitchen team settling into a high performance groove now.

Locanda Locatelli is one of London’s best Italian restaurants. Giorgio Locatelli was the initial head chef at Zafferano before setting up on his own in Portman Square. The place is still very popular, and little seems to have changed since my last visit: the prices have nudged up even higher, the dining is still murkily lit, the bread is still excellent, the salads and pasta very good. I have always preferred Zafferano, mainly on the grounds of better service and the fact that I can actually read the menu there without bringing a torch. This view remains unchanged, though the food at Locanda Locatelli is certainly very good.  

The final Europe Michelin guide for 2013 came out, the Main Cities of Europe, which covers places without their own country guide i.e. Scandinavia and eastern Europe. Two stars for Geranium in Copenhagen, and a first ever star for a restaurant in Poland called Atelier Amaro in Warsaw, but otherwise there was little change of note. In the 2013 season the only existing Michelin guide still due out is the Hokkaido guide, but it seems that there will also be a new Hiroshima guide too.

My series on private dining for Elite Traveler magazine continues with Per Se and also Hotel de Ville. As noted previously, the blog will be off its usual Saturday slot next week due to some travel.