232-236 Brompton Rd London SW3 2BB www.cassisbistro.co.uk
Cassis Bistro serves up French cuisine on the Brompton Road in South Kensington. It has the feeling of a large restaurant whereas in reality it’s a small venue and arguably should embrace that characteristic and become more intimate and cosy. I’m not a huge fan of eating in’fish-tank’ style venues where a huge amount of glass frontage means passers-by can have a good nose.
That being said, it’s not a bad atmosphere inside the restaurant, which I believe is kitted out in a modern-style and looks pretty good, although I’m no Linda Barker flogging crappy sofas nor am I a wallpaper-loving Llewelyn Bowen. There’s plenty of soft peachy pastille colour outlined by glossy black with splashes of bright and bold primary colours thrown into the mix by the collection of artwork.
It’s the first time I’ve eaten foie gras since my return from Madrid where it’s practically on tap. Cassis offers two foie dishes; I’m sampling the terrine with brioche and rhubarb marmalade. The foie and marmalade blend nicely together, a nice bitter-sweet tang that cuts through the deep rich creaminess and strips the lingering fatty taste from the mouth.
The lobster spaghetti with almond pesto is not bad. The pasta is served al dente and the nutty pesto is a nice topping to a rich tomato sauce, but it’s not a show-stopper nor is it something uniquely different. The lobster is almost lost in the dish, somewhat overshadowed by the sauce and pasta rather than complemented by them. Given the luxury ingredient I’m surprised the dish isn’t more deconstructed, allowing the full flavour of the lobster to take centre stage.
The main course of heavily gamey duck leg with what can only be described as an ambitious chocolate sauce was quickly replaced with a slow-braised beef cheek. The latter is far superior in my opinion and was cooked brilliantly. The beef cheek is incredibly tender, flaking at the touch of a fork and falling apart in the mouth without the hint of a bite. It’s served with some par-boiled juicy carrots, buttery spinach and smooth olive oil mashed potato. There’s no need to be put out by the small portion size because the heavy flavours will take their toll.
The icing on the cake on this occasion is the sommelier’s choice of fantastic wine that definitely lifts the evening and is a noticeable highlight. He’s a top guy and his stories behind each wine are told more like fairytales rather than lectured school notes. I’m chuffed with each glass and his pairings to the various courses are spot on.
A rum baba for dessert and undoubtedly this is the booziest one in my life. Very soft and sweet but they’re not shy on the booze in Cassis and I’m definitely not complaining. I can’t understand the need for a dessert wine as well unless they’re trying to get me completely hammered. I’m not even waffling on half as much as I normally do so can’t understand why the night is so wet.
In my opinion, Cassis Bistro is one of the better restaurants in its surrounding area. It’s a bite-size version of a top restaurant, wrapped up in a stylish compact bistro. The food and cooking is great quality and at least they’re pushing boundaries and focussing on delivering favourable courses well.