August has a cosy dining room, with exposed brick walls, wooden floors, a high ceiling and chandeliers casting a somewhat murky light. Starters were $9 - £19, main courses $26-39, with a tasting menu at $80. The wine list has selections such as Clos du Val Chardonnay 2006 at $54 for a wine that costs around $20 retail, up to La Mouline Guigal at $400 for a wine that costs around $200 retail if you can find it. A bonus is that if you have the tasting menu, a wine pairing is just $20, a genuine bargain. Bread was just doughy white rolls, which were under salted (11/20).
Truffled whelk with sabayon custard was an odd idea, served in an egg shell and fortunately mainly tasted of the sabayon with its hint of truffle; the whelk flavour was almost absent (14/20). Shrimp remoulade with a carpaccio of artichoke and fennel had good shrimp and vegetables but an over-acidic citrus dressing (14/20). Yard egg ravioli with brown butter and chanterelles had pasta that was undercooked and rather hard around the edges, though with a good tasting egg and topped with grated Parmesan (13/20).
Butter poached lobster was very good, entirely avoiding the chewiness which besets so much restaurant lobster, served on top of a layer of crispy pork belly that was cooked a fraction too long, itself resting on fennel choucroute with a garnish of house-cured bacon, the pork and the lobster working well together (15/20).
Rabbit cassoulet was very good, the rabbit tender, the haricot beans cooked nicely, the stock reasonably rich (15/20). Slow braised “Kobe beef” (actually just American wagyu beef) was fairly tender, served with soft potato gnocchi, cauliflower crisp (a useful texture contrast) and a rich red wine sauce, the dish garnished with a little black truffle (15/20).
Napoleon of nougatine was served with a Valrhona bavarois, chicory coffee sauce and saltwater toffee ice cream, and for me while pleasant lacked the deep intensity of flavour that a top class rendition would have had (14/20). Service was excellent, friendly and attentive. Chef John Besh managed to produce a strong 14/20 meal from his team tonight.