Boulestin in St James’s
Boulestin is a lovely local bistro in London’s poshest neighbourhood. Elegant and informal at the same time, it’s a perfect choice when you want to have an easy but chic dinner out.
In a light room overlooking a romantic terrace – it’s a cold, wet Tuesday night but I can easily imagine the beauty of the space in a week’s time – you can sit and taste authentic French dishes with an authentic French vibe.
The menu conveniently highlights the signature courses in red and there’s also a pre/post theatre option which suits perfectly given the central position of the restaurant. The set menu features a selection of the same classics that you can have à la carte.
Bread and butter consists of two delicious warm mini baguettes. Now, let’s talk about this: how have so many chefs not yet figured out that putting the bread in the oven for one minute before serving it improves the whole experience?
We start our meal with Grilled Wye Valley Asparagus Bayonne Ham & Poached Egg and Pan-fried Rye Bay Scallops, Pea Purée & Nettles. The portions are generous and both dishes look genuinely fresh. The egg is cooked to perfection and the asparagus’ chargrilled flavour immediately defines the difference between something properly broiled and something scorched. The scallop dish is very green: it has a smell of spring and the minted pea purée, although delicious, slightly smothers the delicacy of the shellfish.
The glass of Chardonnay 2010 by Domaine H Boillot from Burgundy is a great choice: its structure, depth and complex notes justify the pricey element (£14.50).
Daube de Boeuf and Roast Pigeon, Madeira Jus Morels & Broad Beans are our main courses, both signature and typically French. The daube is basically a simpler version of the boeuf bourguignon, with a lighter sauce; the beef is extremely tender and rich in flavour.
The pigeon is more or less the opposite, a refined dish that deserves a refined wine – we had an exquisite glass of Burgundy pinot noir, a St Aubin 1er Cru Derriere la Tour 2010 by Domaine Jean Claude, with dark fruit and spicy notes on top of light wood traits – it’s served with wilted chard and covered with very concentrated Madeira jus.
If you are overindulgent you can also try the Pommes “Anna” side dish: gratin potatoes without cheese, only potato and butter.
The desserts offer is rather wide but I strongly advise having the Assiette de Desserts, which is a selection of five including lemon tart, profiterole, sorbet, rhubarb jelly and chocolate cake. I start from the gel to get it out of the way but it’s surprisingly good – a little salty, not like the kind you typically have at children’s parties. The highlights are the chocolate cake (I’m a chocofanatic) and the lemon sorbet which is extremely tasty – I believe there is mango in it too.
Another nice thought is the two madeleines with the coffee as a petit four.
Whether you live in Mayfair, work there or are down to see a West End show, Boulestin is ideal for adding that classy touch to your meal. If it’s a warm day, don’t forget to book a table in the al fresco terrace to enjoy a romantic and summery feel.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
To book a table at Boulestin, 5 St James’s St, London SW1A 1EF, call 020 7930 2030 or enquire here.
The pre/post theatre menu is available 5pm-7pm, 10pm-11.30pm (11pm Mon-Wed), and on Saturday lunch. Two courses £19.50, three courses £24.50.