J’adore Aubaine with all my French-loving heart, a palce I frequented a lot as a filmmaker pre-blogging days, and one I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing before now, at Christmas and again two weeks ago, in my guise here as a foodie blogger-cum-restaurant critic (and the rest)!
A three fold eatery: restaurant, boulangerie and pâtisserie in one, the exquisitely chic Aubaine (and its ten branches) are undoubtedly the most stylish French bistros you’ll find in London.
It was an absolute delight to be invited to review the new, 10th branch: Aubaine Hyde Park on 129 Bayswater Road, overlooking the park, to sample their summer menu and report back.
The perfect location for people-watching (so Parisian) as you can dine al fresco overlooking the gardens, or inside within the opulent but welcoming taupe interiors…
Merging the elegance of a Parisian salon with the relaxed ambience of a Provençal bistro, Aubaine have got it just right.
Urban metal tables nestle beside their rustic wooden ‘brothers’ all adorned with potted blooms and twinkling tea lights, think Pinterest swoon-worthy interiors boards but in 3D.
With monochrome tiled floors beneath your feet and exposed, high ceilings, single drop glass lamps hanging above your heads, you’re instantly transported to the French Riviera- and it’s clear Aubaine’s latest branch adheres as do the others, to their philosophy of simple luxury: ‘simplicité c’est beauté’.
It really is no wonder this restaurant group evolved from its early beginnings meeting the owners needs of offering local Londoners the perfect french stick (the bread basket is divine by the way) quickly expanding into fine but accessible dining for residents of the capital and tourists too of course.
And last week that included Mum and I.
Me with my part-French husband, Peter and years holidaying in the South of France and Paris (my parents first took me to Nice aged 6 months), let’s say our standards of French cuisine are pretty high, and Aubaine exceeded those and more-
Greeted by the charming manager Victor-we toasted the meal with fresh, crisp Villa Saint Jean white wine while we perused the highly considered, vibrant summery menu.
For starter, I opted for the Aubaine Caesar Salad ( with added chicken breast), Mum, the Paprika & chilli dusted squid with fresh chilli, spring onion & lime aioli (I had to sample hers too, for review purposes of course)!
This was frankly the tastiest caesar salad I’ve ever eaten and I’m a bit of a caesar salad connoisseur.
Crisp fresh leaves, perfectly toasted golden croutons, succulent organic, free range chicken (the farmer drops it to the branch in person each week from Wales) covered with lashings of creamy caesar dressing (and that vital added tanginess) ensured this salad hit the spot.
A hearty but not too heavy starter, even with the added chicken (you can enjoy it without) there was room to try some of Mum’s too and lots of space left to enjoy my main!
Mum’s squid was crispy on the outside, soft on the in-exactly how it should be, none of that rubbery, stringy texture you can sometimes find with squid.
These golden rounds were garnished with finely chopped red chillies and spring onion to give the dish a kick, cooled slightly when dipped into the garlic and lime infused aioli.
For mains, I plumped for the lamb rump & breast, confit potatoes, pea purée and spring vegetables in a port jus, which despite, perhaps sounding on paper rather Autumnal, was in fact a stunning dish for a balmy summer’s night, not too rich or heavy yet flavoursome and satisfying.
The medallions of medium rare lamb simply melted in the mouth, the pea puree and baby carrots offered some seasonal ‘sunshine’ to the plate.
Rather magnificent huh?!
Mum’s roast cod, baby spring vegetables, asparagus, spinach purée and salsa verde was sampled by me too (sorry Mum)!
Delicate roasted flaky cod dipped into the spinach puree and enjoyed with al dente spring vegetables was a vibrant, light dish, it was hard to stop at one forkful (sorry Mum, again).
Topped off with spinach and mash sides, we worried that we might, just might, not have room for dessert after all, that is until Mariano brandished the dessert platter for us to see.
With gushes all round (and at the desserts too ;)) we simply had to try a few.
Being a patisserie, their sweets certainly didn’t disappoint.
What beauties to behold.
Being nut-free, I chose the tantalising apple tart (a top heavy collection of apple chunks (not slices, the former much preferred) on a thin mille-feuille style base, along with the must-have traditional mille-feuille: the classic creamy, vanilla custard encased in thin leaves of pastry (the French Vanilla-slice): both so good they were devoured in seconds with promises of jogs tomorrow, still not run!
And just for fun check these divine pastries we will treat ourselves with, at brunch another time.
Ending the meal with strong cappuccinos, it was soon time to hop on our train home to Leeds. Full, content and feeling like we’d spent the evening in St Tropez, we’re already dreaming of our next meal at Aubain: the perfect meal à deux.
Thank you Aubaine, we will be back!
Now for the recipe so you can recreate the lamb dish at home and wow your dinner party guests and/or family members this summer:
Lamb rump and breast, confit potatoes, pea purée, spring vegetables and port jus.
For 4 people
- 2x lamb rumps (200g each)
- 1x breast lamb (800g)
- 200g frozen peas
- 200ml chicken stock
- 1x clove of garlic
- 1x shallot
- 1x kilo of King Edward potatoes
- 1 x bunch of baby carrots
- 100g broad beans
- 300 ml of olive oil or vegetable oil
- 100g butter (room temperature.)
- 20g bay leafs
- 30g thyme
- 75 ml of port (red wine will be just as good)
- Salt & pepper to taste
To start, take the breast of lamb and place into a deep baking tray, and cover with 90% of the bay leaves and half the amount of thyme, then pour over 150 ml of the olive oil making sure all of the breast of lamb is submerged in the oil.
Take a good pinch of seasoning, cover the baking tray with foil and place in the oven on a low heat, recommended 150 degrees, and cook for about 4 hours depending on the size of the breast or till the breast is tender.
Whilst the breast of lamb is cooking, this allows you plenty of time to put together the remainder of the dish.
Start of by making the confit potatoes, peel and rinse all, then slice into thin disks (a little thicker than a household crisp).
Take another baking tray and line with greaseproof paper. Pick the leaves from the thyme and add to 75g of the butter, along with most of the oil, leaving a little for cooking, later.
Start to layer the potatoes until the tray is full making sure you brush each layer with the thyme butter, olive oil and seasoning.
Once this done, place another layer of greaseproof on top of the potatoes, and then place in the oven and cook for one and half hours.
Now for the pea puree, take half a shallot and clove of garlic and finely dice, take a saucepan and place on the stove, then add the garlic and shallot, sweating the mixture off until the shallots are softened.
Then add 100ml of chicken stock and reduce by half, add the frozen peas and season, cook for 2 minutes, take from the heat and blitz using a blender, until pea mixture is smooth.
Place to one side ready to serve later.
Preparing your vegetables- peel your vegetables ready to be cooked.
Take the rump of lamb and season.
Place a frying pan on the stove and sear your lamb making sure brown off your meat on every side.
Take lamb from the frying pan (keeping the frying pan to one side for the jus) and place on a baking tray, and cook in the oven.
This will take around 14 minutes for medium and timing depends on the size of the rump (so make sure you have timed this with the breast of lamb and potatoes).
Now for the jus, remove any oil from the frying pan you used for searing the lamb, then place back on the stove.
Take the half shallot and bay leaf and place in a pan, allowing it to caramelize. Once the shallot has a golden colour add the port or red wine to glaze the pan.
When it simmers, add the remainder of the chicken stock and start to reduce your jus until you get a thicker consistency.
Remove from heat, strain the jus through a sieve and place to one side, ready to serve.
Now the lamb and potatoes should be cooked, remove breast from the oven, carefully strain off the oil and place on a cooling rack, ready to carve.
Take the rump of lamb and leave to one side to rest.
Remove potatoes and portion them into 4 portions for yourself and your guests.
Now to steam and boil your carrots and peas. All of the components to your dish are complete, it’s time to pour the wine, and present your Lamb rump & breast with confit potatoes, pea purée, spring vegetables and port jus.
Garnish with watercress.
The meal and drinks at Aubaine were complimentary but all words are my own and honest.