Friday, July 27, 2007

La Petite Maison

54 Brook’s Mews,
Mayfair W1K 4EG
(27 July 2007)

This is an offshoot of a famous Nice restaurant that I’ve been to a couple of times in the past that just opened in London. Actually, I went there convinced it was an offshoot of a Brussels restaurant but it pretty quickly dawned on me that this had to be a Provencal restaurant. The space used to belong to a rather dreary Italian restaurant that managed the feet of being massively expensive without having anything worthwhile on the menu but stuffy staff aplenty.

I went without a reservation figuring that since it the place is new it would not be full. This being London, however, I could not have been more wrong. The place was absolutely full and buzzing with activity. We however, did get seated pretty quickly by the lovely Tamara the PR for the restaurant. We must have been looking particularly prosperous because she told us that she looks after VIP’s and should I need a table in the future I should call her.

The Restaurant is in an odd shaped corner space that actually works rather well for a restaurant because you walk in and the whole space opens up in front of you at a 90 degrees angle rather than at 180 degrees as is more normal. The dining room is also rather large and bright, painted cream coloured with very elaborate flower arrangements providing colour. All in all they have very successfully created a very Nicois feel to the place.

The concept of the place is European food served Asian style i.e. many small and large dishes to share. The food also ranges from very simple (fave beans and pecorino) to the opulent such as the blackleg chicken with fresh braised foie gras. There is also a satisfyingly large selection of dishes.

We had only three courses, namely:

  1. Salad of broad beans (fave beans in French), basically broad beans, olive oil, salt, pepper and slices of pecorino. Works beautifully;
  2. Baked Aubergine, shrimp and melted cheese: I don’t generally hold with cheese and seafood but I found this too intriguing not to try. It really works extremely well delicate flavours that are not at all drowned by the cheese as I had feared;
  3. Blackleg chicken with fresh braised foie gras. I could not resist this dish even though it takes an hour to get it to your table, (I think they managed in 45 min but can’t be sure as I was not paying attention). Blackleg chicken is a French type of free range chicken that is let grow quite large and is exceptionally tasty. They marinate it in lemon before braising it for and hour in a heavy oven pan. That’s it, served with fried foie gras and Pommes Dauphinoises it really is to die for. The quantity was rather more than the two of us could handle as it could easily have fed four as long as none of them is my nephew.

I’ll be going back for dishes like: pissaladiere (caramelized onion tart topped with anchovies); Nicoise salad; sweet peppers in olive oil; stuffed Mediterranean vegetables; deep-fried baby squid; deep-fried courgette flowers, sage, with anchovies and onions; and warm prawns with olive oil, Carpaccio of Scallops… And they also have macaroni with summer truffles… actually I may have to go back tonight for that!

The best thing though, they serve Chateaux Rasque – La piece nouble! My absolute favourite Cote de Provence that I have every time I go to Bruno’s in Lorgue. You normally can’t find this wine outside of France or really outside of Provence but they have it in Mayfair!

To top everything off the service is also great provided by mostly young French people. How come that when you get good service in London it is always provided by French people.

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