Ketchup! In a French restaurant? I remember the time in Antibes in the south of France when I asked for ketchup; I was looked upon with more contempt than a food blogger has when she opens her email to find she’s been invited to the launch of Toby Carvery’s new opening in Bromsgrove.
(For your information, I haven’t been invited there)…
(And even if I did consider it, Bromsgrove is not in the SW postcode).
Moving swiftly on from the thought of broiled meat and pulverised broccoli, I must apologise to Aubaine on Kensington High Street for including them and the aforementioned notorious ’roundabout restaurant’ so close in the same article.
For the record I was pleased about the inclusion of ketchup – even though I am a mayonnaise woman myself – as my frites were très bon.
Above you see The Welshman’ starter: Squid, lime aioli and coriander. It came out hot, the batter was delicate and crispy but there wasn’t enough of the ingredient which we actually wanted to bite through to; the VIP cephalopod itself. Almost too thin, the frying had made it dry – not an eek of squelch as you bit down. Shame, as it was gorgeously presented and everything else got checked off my calamari check list. I have one, you know.
My starter above: the salmon tartare, pink grapefruit and caper dressing couldn’t have looked prettier on the plate. It was perfectly edible although I had hoped the salmon would be tartare – raw – which left me slightly disappointed. The cream cheese didn’t do all that much for me and the caviar seemed to add nothing to what were effectively ingredients I put into bagels at the weekend.
Now for the mains. The Welshman ordered the cut of the day which was pork belly. The portion size was more than adequate and once again Aubaine’s dish was presented with much cultivation. The red cabbage accompaniment was rich and silky – so much so that we thought Christmas had come (we always have red cabbage at Christmas) and the gravy clean and moreish. The pork was on the dry side which was a shame. Again so edible and nothing that would warrant sending back but you asked for my honest opinion.
I know you didn’t but I’m telling you it anyway.
Ah ha! My main event – moules frites. I like the small mussels so much better than those awfully rubbery giants you get at questionable Chinese eateries in Soho, so that got ticked off the moule frites checklist. The white wine sauce was not in the slightest bit salty (as some dishes I have tried have been known to be) and the chef had clearly thrown an extra-large sized lump of Lurpak in there just to butter me up.
While the dish didn’t make me want to dance and scream, it was tasty, unbastardised and more than satisfactory.
The frites, as I say were pretty banging too.
Aubaine is light, airy and welcomingly paced after the tourists and slow-walkers-that-you-want-to-punch-in-the-head people out in High Street Ken. While I was a guest of Aubaine, and thank them for inviting me, I have had exceedingly good meals for a similar price as they are charging. The food certainly wasn’t exceeding but it certainly wasn’t bad. If their dishes were on a par with the profoundly professional front of house team (and the presentation), then this review would be glowing.
Sadly my hands are tied.
Aubaine 37-45 Kensington High Street London W8 5ED 020 7368 0950