6 Hollywood Road, London SW10 9HY
www.barbandol.co.uk Octopus carpaccio with spring onion, chili and lemon dressing
andol is a small town on the Côte d’Azur. It is also a new restaurant in Chelsea. The first has everything you want for a seaside holiday. The second probably has better food! This is the second venture by dream team Sylvia Kontek and Vittorio Monge, the creators of Margaux in South Kensington. Their combination of French food in an edgy urban setting is a foodie’s delight. Not for me though. Together with Head Chef, Zsolt Ferencz, they have made my job very difficult. There is nothing to criticize! Well, one thing. The tables are too close together. That’s it. Apart from the difficulty of getting in and out from the banquette, I adored everything. Are they trying to put me out of work?! Or was it planned, so the other patrons could enjoy the sight of my derriere, squeezing past their warm prawn salad? The interior is an eclectic mix of brushed metal tables, polished copper, a splash of brick, an exposed steel beam, cosy alcoves and climb-
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
ing vines, all surrounding an ancient olive tree. It takes genius to make all that work together. The menu is anything but eclectic. It is however, inventive, inspired and remarkably reasonable considering its posh location. Two glasses of prosecco and two slices of pissaladière appeared on the table unbidden. Magic. Then they vanished. More magic! Octopus carpaccio with spring onion, chili and lemon dressing (£13.50) was the best octopus I have ever had. Tender, flavorful, complex and balanced. An absolute must. Petite friture de poisson (£11) with prawns, white bait, baby squid and delicate aioli was a good contrast; the batter thin and perfectly crisp. Both were nicely paired with a bottle of Bandol Blanc, 2012, Domaine De Terrebrune (£60). This certified organic blend has a unique taste of citrus and apple, not unlike a light Riesling with a slightly bitter finish. Excellent with all our fish courses. The wine list is well thought out, with a good selection by the glass
and carafe and a nice range of bottles for under £50. There are as many versions of bouillabaisse as there are fish in the sea. I am far from fond of all of them, and generally prefer my own. Sadly, Chef Ferencz has outdone me! We are however, similar in style, using broth instead of “gravy” and flavoring with fennel. Bandol Bouillabaisse is simply gorgeous. At £18, the meal deal of the year! Fillet of Saint-Pierre (aka John Dory) was equally good, but priced at £23. Served with artichokes, capers and drenched in beurre noisette, it was a dish after my own heart. Milk fondant (£8) was a scrumptious sweet and sour mousse with caramelized figs. Tart Tropezienne was the world’s lightest cream puff with a beautiful berry compote. We were enchanted. As we were with the staff. Charm personified! Coupled with competence and knowledge, they couldn’t have been better. All this praise is dull. Next time, I expect something to criticize!