Restaurant review: Boulestin, SW1


Boulestin - Credit: Archant

When renowned French food writer and chef Xavier Marcel Boulestin opened his eponymous restaurant in the late 1920s, it was frequented by film stars and the likes of Wallis Simpson.

Now, 20 years since that original venue closed its doors, its recently opened Mayfair namesake harks back to all the film-star glamour and grandeur of that bygone era – the kind of French brasserie with high ceilings and brass fittings that you’d hope to stumble across on a trip to Paris.

The menu is also very loyal to Boulestin himself, with more than half of the dishes on the menu from his pre-war cookbooks, and the service is as attentive as it comes.

As you’d expect from any French restaurant, the wine list is extensive – and our full bodied Pinot Noir from Burgandy lived up to expectations.

Sweet cured herrings served with potatoes and dill were fresh and tangy, but not too vinegary while the Rye Bay scallops my friend ordered were perfectly browned and tender, the mild flavour showcased by the cauliflower puree accompaniment.

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The traditional beef borderlaise with red wine sauce was a dream – the thick slab of rib-eye juicy, free of any fat and cooked rare, brought to the table smothered in deliciously rich red wine sauce and paired with a simple layered dauphinoise potato.

Meanwhile my friend opted for the wild sea bass on a bed of samphire, served with a sauce vierge that was zesty but not at all too oily.

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For dessert I tried the ile flottante – effectively meringue floating on cream – which was simple but divine. My friend went for hot cinamon beignets, which were crispy and soft little mini doughnuts with dipping sauces, tasting as good as they sound.

The original Boulestin closed in 1994 – a victim of the last recession and the traditional falling out of fashion. But thanks to a revival of classic dining as we grow tired of the modern and predictable, let’s hope this nostalgic gem is here to stay this time.

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