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Le Colombier, Chelsea, great classy french brasserie

I've been to some ropey 40th parties of late, maybe at our age we aren't as good at throwing a good party or perhaps the interlude of being parents has made us unnecessarily awkward when thrust out on a Saturday night. Last Saturday we had one to go to but fortunately it was for our friend Joel and his wife Susi knows how to throw a damn good party. My liver is still recovering from their wedding at the ICA 8 years ago. Anyway the theme for this evening's merriment was the 1970's. This meant I donned flary jeans, flowery print shirt, medallion, shades and a leather jacket, a sort of well fed Serpico. Whilst my lovely wife went all Farah Fawcett in a jump suit, bangs and some questionable make up. Suitably attired we wondered where to go for an early dinner. The party was over in Earlsfield so somewhere Chelsea way would work. We had always been tempted by Le Colombier when driving past to drop Baby G off at his Saturday morning French class. So dressed somewhat unconventionally (I put the medallion & shades on later) we took a table when they opened that evening.

Le Colombier is a little bit of France transplanted to a quiet street around the back of the Brompton hospital. A covered, heated terrace leads into the restaurant proper. Kitchen is up on the first floor so at least the chefs get to see daylight! We were the first punters in and opted for a seat in the Terrace. We kicked off with a some good Kirs whilst we watched the sun go down over a leafy corner of Chelsea. My lovely wife started with a classic Endive Salad which she loved, simple but when done well more than just a salad. My interest was drawn to the sardines on the menu, these weren't cooked but were top grade specimens served in their tin with lots of bread. It was lovely, strong tasting sardines with some fragrant olive oil to mop up afterwards. Again a simple dish done extremely well. To follow my lovely wife went for the steak tartare which came with crisp salty frites and a good green salad. I tried a forkful and it was lovely, one of the better efforts we have had in London. I went for the Entrecote off the specials menu which was a huge piece of beautifully cooked meat. It was resting on a bed of wild mushrooms and covered in a cream sauce. The meat and sauce were excellent though the mushrooms were a bit too salty. However a good meal especially as I pinched a few chips from my lovely wife. We shared a bottle of their house claret with the mains which was a reasonable choice off a fairly toppy wine list.

It was quite a hefty meal up to then so we opted to share a plate of excellent cheese to follow. I availed myself of a good proper filter coffee which all restaurants should do. We finished off with a glass of Muscat for her and a Baron Sigognac Armagnac for me. As we sat there the restaurant soon filled up with a mix of clientele locals, tourists, couples on a romantic date. There was also a lot of French punters which suggests this was an authentic take on their local brasseries back home. Service was professional and efficient rather than friendly though I noticed regulars experienced a bit more warmth. It's a place where the customer earns the respect of the restaurant and vice versa much like La Poule au Pot which is no bad thing. Our odd get up didn't seem to faze anyone, in fact a lot of customers looked like they had been young guns about town in the 70's. This was a very classy meal in lovely surroundings, it delivered effortlessly the sort of food and atmosphere many places up in the West End try too hard to replicate. At £160 for two not a cheap meal but well worth it for a treat. Their set lunch though looked good value so I am keen to return. So appetite sated and a little bit merry I donned my shades and medallion and we set off for a fun 40th party where the birthday boy Joel transformed himself into Agnetha from Abba (his blond ponytail helped). A good meal followed by a great night out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Overall rating
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

 

Been back since and this is a great restaurant. However last meal was slightly mared by an absolute arsehole at the next table complaining about his meal. He was an american playing the big man to impress his business underlings. The Maitre D did well not to throw him out. Our meal was as excellent as ever.   

Hakkasan, Tottenham Court rd, excellent chinese

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