The classic French restaurant in Chelsea, one of London's most fashionable neighbourhoods, has at one time schooled culinary gurus like Marco Pierre White and even Gordon Ramsey himself, under whose guidance Aubergine received its first Michelin stars. The great British master's touch can still be felt in the tasteful and light presentation of the dishes, even though the helm of the restaurant for the past eight years has been in the hands of William Drabble.
Upon entering the restaurant, which from afar looks like just a small shop, one is hit by a slight aroma of smoke; however, when the cigar lounge has been successfully traversed, the eye is greeted by the sight of a room appointed in the style of aristocratic French classicism. The restaurant, with its light, sunny interior and dazzlingly white tablecloths, seats some 50 guests. The tableware is inconspicuously adorned with the restaurant logo.
Opening the menu or casting your eye over the tasting selection (on offer for entire tables, not individually), you immediately understand an easy or quick choice is going to be impossible - everything seems so tempting! The galette of pig's head somewhat resembles a hot meat patty held together by the fat content. As you tear off small pieces, only a little amount of fat oozes out onto the greens. The goose liver is heavenly - with a fresh, caramelised pear, crisp on the outside, yet slightly soft in the middle, a perfect accompaniment to the foie gras.
Although slightly overcooked, the scallops with apple purée are wonderful - everything is perfectly fresh. The seemingly odd combination of lobster tail and cabbage has found a number of admirers, but the addition of chanterelles makes the result truly fantastic. The cabbage is a bright, juicy green, as if just plucked from the garden.
Whatever arrives on your table, the principle remains the same: traditional French culinary values with a modern touch. Unfortunately, some slight criticism is in order for the restaurant's desserts. They are by no means poor (the restaurant does have a Michelin star, after all!), but true gourmets might feel a little disappointed. The hazelnut soufflé is too grainy; the white chocolate parfait with cherries is also under whelming.
Service is patchy at Aubergine - after pouring the wine somewhat clumsily, the sommelier murmurs his sorry, sorry in a decidedly perfunctory manner. You never get to feel quite welcome over the course of the entire evening. It is not quite surprising, then, that there are free tables on a Saturday night. There is no strict dress code, but classic elegance is observed.
Open Monday to Friday for lunch 12:00 pm - 2:15 pm
and Monday to Saturday for dinner 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Closed on public holidays
11 Park Walk, London SW 10 OAJ
Phone: 0044 (0) 20 7352 3449
Fax: 0044 (0) 20 7351 1770
Keywords: London, restaurant, clasic, french, Chelsea, Gordon Ramsay, Michelin stars, Michelin