Beat the rat race and head to Brasserie Gustave in Kensington
05 Jun 2016
This is clearly the case at the famous Gusteau restaurant, where the whole team work seamlessly in bringing us the finest French cuisine on offer. Even after the scathing review by food critic Anton Ego… Oh hang on! Sorry, no! That’s not right! That’s actually the plot of Pixar’s charming animated foodie classic Ratatouille, based in Chef Auguste Gusteau’s esteemed Parisian brasserie.
But in Richard Weiss, proprietor of Brasserie Gustave and formerly of Brasserie St Jacques in St James, you could be forgiven for mistaking Weiss for the lovable Gusteau himself, in terms of Gallic flair, passion for his trade and the incredible fare on offer at his South Kensington outpost.
In all honesty however, Brasserie Gustave, (not Gusteau), named after French architect Gustave Eiffel and open since June 2014, really is a hidden gem of a restaurant in an area known for its sizeable French contingent.
With its ‘easy to miss unless you know where it is’ frontage and modest 50 cover seating area, we plonked ourselves on the red leather banquettes with art deco/nouveaux posters in full view all around, and wondered whether Gustave’s website claim of a ‘fresh take on the traditional brasseries of Paris’ would be a valid one.
One thing that should be made clear is that this is a menu for you purists out there. There’s not a great deal that’s contemporary or unique, but for us, that was part of the appeal.
Well executed, familiar French dishes and a good old-fashioned gueridon style service, particularly one conducted with such knowledge, charm and humour as is provided by Alsatian born Weiss add to Gustave’s charm. It’s understandable why a large number of his patrons from Brasserie St Jacques have followed him here and can regularly be seen (and heard) at lunch and dinner sittings.
Working tirelessly with Weiss is Laurence Glayzer (formerly of l’Esperance), and it’s his food that completes the creative scene. This wasn’t our first time to Brasserie Gustave and this time round we regrettably didn’t plump for the Garlic and parsley buttered snails (6 for £8 & 12 for £15) – a mistake, we won’t be repeating.
On Weiss’ recommendation, we did however, go for the Roasted bone marrow, parsley and gherkin salad, red wine sauce (£11), an acquired taste for many, devoured by the pair of us. And also the moreish Pan-fried chicken liver salad, sherry vinegar and pine nuts (£9).
Les Plats that Gusteau himself would have been proud about were all about the meat for us. The 28 day aged Buccleugh ribeye with peppercorn sauce and frites (£24) and Slow cooked lamb shank, tomato and flageolet beans (£17) both didn’t see the light of day for more than five minutes but again, from our previous visit, we heartily recommend the Hand cut beef fillet steak tartar with green salad and frites (£20).
And hands down, the gueridon lends itself to only one dessert as far as we are concerned. The Crepes Suzette a la Victor (£13.50 for two) combines the best of Gallic theatre and cuisine in one bite-sized performance.
It would be like Disneyland without Mickey Mouse if we were to mention, Brasserie Gustave and Weiss, without the wide array of wine on offer. Of course the focus is on French wine and the rest of the world takes a back seat. And why not? Experienced sommelier Weiss, advocate of biodynamic wine, has lovingly put together a list that can be enjoyed over dinner or in the Eiffel Bar in the basement.
But rightly, it’s the food that takes centre stage and whether you’re a French food connoisseur, international food critic, or even a lowly rat from the other side of the tracks, you’ll find Brasserie Gustave one to shout about.