This Chelsea brasserie opened in June 2014, with Laurence Glayzer in charge of the kitchen. Mr Glayzer trained at some serious restaurants in France, including Georges Blanc, Cote d’Or and l’Esperance. He was head chef at Browns Hotel from 2005 – 2007 before working as consultant head chef at The Savoy hotel, then as a roving consultant chef for seven years. More recently he headed up the kitchen of Brasserie St Jacques in 2009 and also the restaurant at The Arch. He was not present for service at this particular lunch.
The ground floor dining seats just fewer than 50 diners at capacity and is in two sections, with a skylight at the back providing good natural light. Art deco prints and posters adorn the walls, and the red banquettes signal “we are a French brasserie” loud and clear. There is a bar and private dining room downstairs. I could have done without the French pop music playing in the dining room, though with few diners the noise levels were fine. The menu is as archetypal as the décor, with starters such as duck liver terrine and moules marinieres priced from £6 to £11.75, main courses £16.50 to £28.50, side dishes £3 to £3.75 and desserts £5.50 to £9.50. A set three-course lunch was offered at £23.50.
The wine list had around 150 labels ranging in price from £18 to £270, with a median price of £50. Mark-ups varied substantially, but averaged a high 3.3 times retail price (plus service of course). Example labels were Sauvignon de Touraine Domaine les Petits Faiteaux 2012 at £26 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £7, Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2013 at £68 for a wine that retails at £23, and 2011 Savennieres Les Vieux Clos Château de la Roche aux Moines at £72 for a wine that you can find in a shop for £24. Catena Alta Malbec 2010 was an outrageous £130 for a wine that you can buy for just £28 in a shop, and Château Batailley 2007 was an even more egregious £155 for a wine that retails at £35.
Lyonnaise salad was simple but enjoyable, a warm poached egg resting on leaves, bacon and croutons, the vinaigrette dressing well balanced (13/20). Quail with saffron noodles and creamed foie gras sauce came with peas and sweet corn. The quail was nicely cooked and the noodles had good texture, though the foie gras was subtle to the point of invisibility (13/20).
Red fruit tart had good raspberries, and even the strawberries had decent flavour, but the pastry was too hard (12/20). Coffee was Musetti and this particular one seemed quite bitter. Service was fine, though at this quiet Friday lunch the waiter had little else to attend to. The restaurant was not exactly under siege today, with just three tables taken. The bill with the set lunch, coffee and water only to drink came to £32 a head. If you ordered from the main menu and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill might be £65 per person. Overall, Brasserie Gustave was perfectly pleasant, though with little to really distinguish it from other restaurants of its kind.Book