Brasserie Gustave, Chelsea
Sitting on the corner of Sydney Street, the exterior of Brasserie Gustave is classic, modest and understated. Named after Gustave Eiffel (any ideas what this chap is famous for?), the restaurant is modelled on a typically French brasserie with Parisian posters, warm yellow walls and vases of sunflowers reminiscent of Van Gogh’s artistic exploits in the sunshine of Southern France. This marriage of north and south combines Parisian sophistication with the relaxed and rustic atmosphere of Provence – a perfect balance of elegant yet unpretentious dining.
The chef, Laurence Glayzer, has a prestigious background – puttin’ on The Ritz, Harry’s Bar, Browns Hotel and The Arch respectively – so expect the classics done to perfection. Start with Escargots or Moules – embrace the garlic, this is French dining after all. For main, meat is a must. The Onglet de boeuf is unbelievably tender and the hand-cut Tartare de Boeuf is mixed at your table. Accompany with more frites and broccoli scattered with almonds. An aromatic glass of red wine – Duc de Nauves – sets the meat off beautifully.
To conclude, have Crêpes Suzette à la Victor for two to avoid dessert envy. Flambéed before your eyes it’s the perfect after dinner entertainment, adding a touch of memorable theatricality to your date. Sip a rich glass of Muscat alongside, close your eyes, hold hands and pretend you’re in Paris.
Go straight through into dinner – save the downstairs bar for after. Begin with Gustave Brasserie’s take on a Bellini, served with a choice of homemade purée – the blackcurrant Bellini has a pleasing tartness and makes for the perfect apéritif. Allow the French soundtrack to inspire your romancing and as the lights get dimmer let your flirtation get bolder.
After dinner, descend to the downstairs bar and go from relatively well-behaved to positively bohemian. The ornate absinthe fountain is a particularly attractive feature – filled with iced water, cucumber and mint, allow this fusion to drip from the delicate taps into your absinthe until the familiar opalescent milkiness is created, and the desired strength reached. Sit side by side next to the fountain and let the green fairy do her magic.
Tough one! The intimate space may be a little too much for a first time nervous dater.
4. Bringing a little bonhomie to the heart of Chelsea.