Editor's note. In December 2015 it was announced that the restaurant would in due course be closing and relocating elsewhere due to rent issues.
Eric Chavot was brought up in Bordeaux but most of his culinary career has been in the UK, working in the kitchens of Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, Harveys and with Nico Ladenis before setting up his own restaurant Interlude de Chavot at the tender age of 27. For a decade he was head chef of The Capital Hotel, earning two Michelin stars while he was there. For the last two years he has been in Florida as a consultant chef, before deciding to return to London and open his own Brasserie at the side of the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair. The format is a brasserie rather than the fine dining for which Eric made his name, the restaurant open at lunch and dinner, seating around 75 diners at capacity. The dining room is attractive, with a pretty tiled floor, red leather banquettes and plenty of dark wood. Starters were priced at £7.50 to £11.50, main courses £16 to £24, desserts £6.50 to £7.50. Side dishes were extra at around £3.75, bread was additional at £2.25.
The wine list has just over 150 selections, 85% of these from France. The list ranged in price from £20 to £720, with a median price of £54 and an average mark-up of 3.1 times the retail price i.e. quite high though not the worst in Mayfair. Mark-ups are little kinder at the top end of the list than the bottom. For example Château Mourgues du Grès Les Galets Rosés 2011 was £32 for a wine that retails at around £9, Domaine J Laurens Crémant de Limoux “Graimenous” 2010 was priced at £45 for a wine you can find in the high street for around £11, and Gevrey-Chambertin Joseph Faiveley 2007 was £90 for a wine that you can find in a shop for £38. Yet Château Lynch-Bages 1985 was £600 for a wine that retails at £190, pricing that hardly encourages wine-loves to splash out. Those seeking relative bargains should explore the more obscure areas of the list.
Bread is charged extra at £2.25 for sourdough bread, which despite the waitress assuring me was made from scratch is actually bought in and reheated in the kitchen. It had reasonable texture (14/20). My starter was crab mayonnaise (£11.75), served with avocado, lettuce and a sliver of toast. This was very good, the avocado ripe, the crab sweet, the lettuce crisp, the mayonnaise well-made and there being just enough citrus to bring freshness to the dish (15/20).
On a cold winter’s day choucroute seemed an appropriate dish. Served in a cast-iron pot, the cabbage had with it morteau sausage (smoked pork sausage from Franche-Comte), salt beef and pork belly, with new potatoes and carrots. This Alsace dish was very well made, the fermented cabbage made yesterday and bringing just the right level of vinegar sourness to cut through the richness of the meats; the root vegetables were precisely cooked, the seasoning well judged (15/20).
For dessert, lemon tart was a slight variant on the classic version, the lemon filling appearing as little piped balls, topped with meringue and garnished with shards of white chocolate. The pastry had good texture, the filling had a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, served with a good and not overly acidic lime sorbet on the side (15/20). Coffee was Nespresso and of good quality, as it might be at £3.75 with no mignardise.
If you have three courses and a side dish your food bill will come to around £40, and then you must add wine, water (£2.50 for a carafe), coffee (£3.75) and service at 12.5%, so realistically your bill will end up at north of £70 a head. This seems to me tolerable for dinner but a lot for lunch given the number of bargain lunches offered by some serious restaurants in Mayfair. Perhaps a more modestly priced set lunch offering will appear in due course. Quibbling about the price of extras aside, this was a very enjoyable meal, the cooking a distinct cut above the quality that you will find in the brasseries that litter this area, even on the second day of operation. If I compare it to two other former Michelin-starred chefs who returned to London to open brasseries (Bruno Loubet and Joel Antunes) I found the whole thing less cynical and more enjoyable. Eric Chavot is a chef at heart, and it shows.