In the heart of trendy South Ken, set amidst high fashion boutiques and other luxury consumer experiences, La Brasserie exudes an unpretentious air of authenticity. Having first opened it’s doors nearly forty years ago,with the addition of Pierre’s bar a new string has been added to the established eatery’s bow.
The new bar itself is undeniably attractive. We noticed a wall of wine stretched above it as we entered the classically decorated bistro-style restaurant and perched ourselves at the counter. A neat row of red leather bar stools, white marble and chrome fitted in seamlessly with the traditional style of La Brasserie. We had been transported to a brasserie in the heart of Paris.
From an extensive cocktail menu that also contained a selection of mouth-watering bar food, we chose a White Lady (delightful) and a Negroni (strong, and which hit the spot) from the attentive barlady.
A nice touch was that the drinks came with a small wasabi nut selection. Our second round of cocktails included a raspberry Bellini and a tiramasu Martini – both beautiful.
We moved from the bar to order some food, joining the other casual eaters and drinkers sitting at red and white checked tables. The tables spilled out onto the street through the concertina doors, and the night air and passersby only added to the feeling of authenticity. True to the aim of Pierre’s bar, the amalgamation of bar and restaurant was attracting a wide variety of clientele. Sat next to us were a toddler with his father and a group of male professionals having after work drinks, and nearby were a pair of female friends having a quiet catch up over a meal. Formal dining toward the rear also blended diners and casual drinkers. As expected, the staff were well turned out, and provided speedy, professional service with warmth. In the ever-important details, La Brasserie excelled: the atmospheric lighting and french art prints had all been carefully considered.
To start, the yearning for french onion soup I was left with after my last experience in Carcasonne this Spring was well and truly satisfied. This was perhaps the best dish we ordered, although our opinion may be slightly skewed by our onion soup obsession. Our second starter, the camembert soufflé was perfectly light and the pairing with a chilled celery and apple puree worked well, if perhaps the juxtaposition of temperatures was distracting.
For mains, an asparagus and haloumi salad pleased the salad lover in me: good textures, variety and flavour combinations. The addition of courgette and sun dried tomatoes, lashings of leaves and a pesto dressing made for a well-balanced dish. The boeuf bourguignon trumped the salad, however, with wonderfully tender meat in its rich wine sauce. Complimented by buttery mash, it had us making – in retrospect – embarrassing whimpers of delight.
Finally, having enjoyed good-sized portions, at this point a sensible fellow might have moved straight to coffee and a digestiv. But we were here in Paris! We felt Parisian, and therefore deserved the full works. So we made room for dessert, and were thoroughly rewarded. A classic creme brulee with a twist of ginger slipped down quickly, and was accompanied by the zing of a slice of lemon tart, complemented with black-current sauce. Our already delighted palettes were spoiled.
Overall, the excellent quality of food, wines, cocktails and dining experience definitely justified the prices at La Brasserie. And for those who wish to sample a slice of Paris in London over a cocktail or two, Pierre’s bar is well worth a visit.