A Valentine’s Dinner at Aubaine, Mayfair.
Dover Street is an address that most Londoners will know for its Nightclubs and Bars. Situated on the edge of Mayfair and Piccadilly, it is close enough to the moneyed parts of Mayfair to command a price premium and central enough to pick up footfall from tourists. The Ill-fated Chez Gerard group used to have a restaurant on Dover Street that was a personal favourite of mine, not because the food was special, but because it had a big terrace/conservatory room where you could sit in the summer with the roof open. Now, it has re-opened as part of the Aubaine group with the large terrace room still there and with a screening room downstairs. I went there for dinner at the invitation of a friend of mine who had won a ‘valentine’s supper’ there.
Inside the décor is a bit lighter and fresher than the old Chez Gerard. Pretty café style chairs, weathered steel topped tables, jars of pastel macarons and meringues give the feel of an upmarket French patisserie. So, it is a pleasant surprise when the savoury dishes turn out to be very good.
The bread arrived in a large metal basket, with a single portion of butter and no side plates or knives. It just seemed a little too close to ‘café’ although my companion managed to eat his way through most of the content of the basket!
We were handed a short menu of chef’s specials and it seemed appropriate to try some of the dishes from there. The main menu was a pleasant mixture of bistro food with a modern twist.
My salmon tartare from the chef’s special menu was a light, citrusy dish that looked amazingly pretty and was well balanced.
Octopus, chosen by my companion, was served as very delicate Carpaccio type slices beautifully arranged on the plate with caper vinaigrette.
I ordered the duck breast as my main course, pink and perfectly cooked, served with broccoli and a little mash, a caramelised fig and a rather nondescript brown smear of what I think was a fig puree which added little for me to what was otherwise an excellent dish.
My dining companion’s steak was simplicity at its best and he could find no fault in it.
Desserts were a selection of patisserie served on a slate platter. I chose the Raspberry tart which was beautifully presented, pastry just a little heavier than I would have liked but otherwise excellent. My companion’s mille feuille was a creamy flaky pastry affair that vanished so quickly I didn’t manage to get a taste!
This meal was a prize for my friend and we celebrated in style with a bottle of champagne to start. As a result, our bill, including two glasses of dessert wine which we were served as ‘complimentary’ but then charged for, a glass of Hennessy XO and a bottle of Pinot Noir came to around £184. But the food was really very good quality with starters mostly under £10 and main courses mostly under £20.
The service was just a little strained which was a shame. I think it must have been because the restaurant was aware I write a London lifestyle blog…so next time I’m wearing dark glasses and my best Hermes scarf…and I will be charging for my autograph;)
31 Dover Street
London W1S 4ND
Tel 020 7368 0956