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Brasserie St Quentin, Brompton Road SW3

The Brasserie St Quentin has always been popular with Knightsbridge shoppers, and visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the evenings local residents have patronised it with almost as much devotion as the congregation of the great Brompton Oratory basilica which is directly opposite. Over the past few years though, it seemed to have lost its way a little, but  it was recently restored to the ownership of one of its founders, Lord Rathcavan and his pals, including Anton Edelmann who was until recently executive head chef of The Savoy. The name recalls a revered food writer, the late Quentin Crewe

We reviewed it quite enthusiastically some six years ago, and this is what we wrote then. We hope to bring you an updated review very soon.

Back to 1998:

The first good thing is that the authentic Parisian brasserie-style charm with its mirrors, prints, old French menus and chandeliers, has not been messed about with. The basement dining room which was beginning to look very gloomy, (I well remember being banished down there when the main restaurant was full), has now been well and truly spruced up, making it a useful venue for a smart party, or a much more pleasant exile when in extremis!

The staff are a lot less stiff and starchy now - they're still French, but they smile a lot more and are welcoming, which can sometimes be hard for the Gallic race when faced with both the English and tourists. I was sorry that they have given up their traditional waiters' aprons, but on the other hand their business suits looked better cut than many of their customers'.

In 1998, for £12.50 you could enjoy a two course lunch or pre theatre supper (up to 7.30pm). Now, in 2004, the Prix Fixee Menu is £14.50 for two courses and three for £16.50, so inflation has largely passed us by!

Back to 1998: 

There's a wide range of Hors d'oeuvres from Lobster bisque with fennel and saffron at £5.80 to a Terrine of Foie Gras, £10.40. My two lady guests enjoyed a tasty grilled St Maure goat's cheese with baby artichkes and red onion dressing £6.70, and snails and asparagus under a blanket of light puff pastry delicately flavoured with tarragon, £7.95. I had a gratinée of smoked haddock with spinach concealing a poached egg. Saving up the delicious puncturing of the soft yolk reminded me of a favourite childhood treat. Pubs have rather hi-jacked gratinée dishes these days, so it was good to see them restored to their rightful setting.

The diners on the next table were a little ahead of us, and while we were waiting for our main courses to arrive, a vast Veal Holstein £16.50, also with spinach and egg, plus a topping of fresh anchovies, was delivered to the lady on my right. She'll never eat all that, I thought, but these Kensington ladies are nothing if not carnivorous. Her beau's roast rack of lamb looked spectacular.

Our traditional calves liver with well mouli-ed mashed potatoes £12.75, was enlivened by a good sauce and plenty of caramelised onions. Some crisp skinned duck magret slices were pink inside, and I very much liked its accompaniment of a neat pastry tart with beans and bacon. Also worth a mention oin despatches was the rich sauce enhanced with foie gras. If you are more adventurous, do try the duck neck stuffed with all those delicious quacky bits and pieces. The lentil and balsamic sauce was yet another hit on the part of the chef saucier. All three dishes came to the table with a similar glossy brown sauce - but appearances can be deceptive - each one had a very distinctive personality and flavour.

Desserts are all £4.50 and include Sorbet du jour, Crème brulée, Tarte au citron and Truffe au chocolat. We had a Tarte tatin for two which looked perfect but wasn't half caramelised enough for my taste. It had been cooked to order and probably needed a little more time. The pear poached in Loupiac with cinnamon ice cream was lovely.

The wine list is very French, as one would expect, but the prices are not unreasonable. We drank the house white first, a fragrant Vin de Pays du Tarn which I can recommend quite unreservedly. Then we went on to the very honest and drinkable La Vielle Ferme, from the Luberon, made by the Perrin family who make what is arguably the best Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

This review dates from April 1998

Clifford Mould - revised 2004

The Brasserie St. Quentin, 243 Brompton Road SW3.
Tel: 020 7589 8005

The cost of your three course dinner with house wine is about £35.00 a head (1998).
Open seven days a week: Monday to Sunday 12.00 - 3.00pm and 5pm  - 10.30pm

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