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Bouillabaisse

4 Mill Street, London, W1S 2AX, United Kingdom

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Editor's note: It appears that this underwhelming restaurant closed in early 2016 after less than a year in operation. I am surprised it lasted that long.

This 80-seat Mayfair seafood restaurant opened in July 2015, owned by Kurt Zdesar, who opened the first Nobu in London. Executive chef Jordan Scare worked for a time at Gordon Ramsay and more recently at Chotto Madre and Nobu, as well as in Hong Kong. The dining room can seat around 65 on the ground floor, with another 14 or so at a chef’s table downstairs, where the table looks not only at the kitchen but at several fish tanks stocked with live crabs and lobsters.

The menu was priced, er, ambitiously. Frito misto was a little matter of £31.95, Bouillabaise was £58, and a side dish of artichoke hearts came in at £6.50. I am not sure what their margin on baked beans is, but at £4.50 I would venture that it is considerable. There were some vegetable crudités and flat bread with dips as nibbles. The produce was undeniably fresh, with a display of live lobsters and langoustines shown, as well as the day-boat catch from Brixham.

The wine list has just over 60 bottles, ranging in price from £24 to £600, with a median price of £52. The average mark-up was over 3.3 times the retail price, which is hefty even by the demanding standards of Mayfair. Sample wines were Chateau Maucoil Cotes du Rhone 2013 at £35 for a bottle that can be found in the high street for £12, Spy Valley Envoy Chardonnay 2010 at £60 compared to a retail price of £18 and Vietti Barolo Castliglione 2010 at £125 for a label that will set you back £41 in a shop.

A scallop and prawn tartare (£14.90) had an orange and fennel dressing. Given that the produce here looked good when displayed, I was hoping for something better than this.  The orange flavour was just too strong and dominated the shellfish, and the texture of the scallops and prawns was oddly on the mushy side (barely 11/20).

Snow crab cakes (£13.90) were rather better, served with a garlic and herb salsa. The crab was fine, but there was an overly floral note in the dish which I found distracting, possibly from the olive oil used (12/20).

The best dish was the simplest: monkfish (£26) served whole and cooked on a barbecue. The fish was of good quality, the cooking was accurate and it was nicely seasoned (14/20). A sea bass was similarly good, the fish served with a green salad and decent sautéed potatoes. 

An apple tart tatin (£8) with vanilla ice cream used Braeburn apples and was quite enjoyable, not cooked for too long and with a bit of acidity from the apples to balance the richness of the tart (13/20). Service was capable, the bill with just water to drink coming to £50 a head. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might be around £85, which seems to me quite a lot, despite the good quality fish being used.

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  • Ewan

    There's something grating about their using a chip shop-style pinboard while charging white tablecloth prices. It's trying a little too hard, trying to have their (crab)cake and eat it too.

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