Brunch at Bandol, Chelsea

Having recently read there was a new restaurant in my neighbourhood with a brunch worth investigating coming from the husband and wife team behind popular Chelsea restaurant Margaux I was hopeful to discover a new place to revive myself on a Sunday afternoon.

The restaurant is named Bandol after the charming wine region in France’s South West I once visited as a boy and they specialise in Niçoise and Provençale sharing dishes but more importantly, could Bandol be a new destination for those acceptably late Sunday breakfasts and the prerequisite caffeine, I wondered curiously.

I was also keen to see how such a tiny space, formerly a bar I frequented serving good cocktails (including picklebacks; a Bourbon and pickle juice shot drunk back to back) and rather poor Americana food, could be transformed into a neighbourhood restaurant.

Having visited Margaux before I felt safe to assume there would be a significant upgrade but I wasn’t expecting the transformation to be quite so brilliant. The restaurant is quite literally gleaming with bronze and rather tastefully furnished indeed. The masterful interior designer deserves great credit for making the best use of the limited space, the restaurant floor now looks three times the size and even offers space for two additional private dining areas.

Our waitress proudly informed us that we were their very first brunch customers which I suppose made us the inevitable guinea pigs so we put our new role to effect immediately ordering with haste two lattes, a tapenade and anchoïade dip to share followed by eggs benedict and eggs royal.

We also chose two freshly squeezed juices of pink grapefruit and apple-orange-ginger. Admittedly these are simple brunch items but also very easy to ruin and I have almost more often than not been disappointed with eggs benedict, quite amazing how many people don’t know what hollandaise sauce is, mine however was excellent and future Sunday afternoon visits are all but guaranteed.

Bandol Brunch
Eggs Benedict

Cost of brunch with one coffee and a fresh juice:
£20 per person

Food:
7 out of 10 – good selection of brunch items, presented nicely and well cooked

Atmosphere:
7 out of 10 – hard to tell being the first customers but the dining room is a really pleasant space to dwell

Service:
8 out of 10 – friendly greeting and the staff were very attentive

Overall:
7 out of 10 – attractive in both menu prices and decor this is a great choice for a casual brunch and dinner

Summary in seven:
The perfect spot for brunch in Chelsea

Details:
60 Hollywood Road,
London,
SW10 9HU

Monday to Friday: Lunch 12:00 – 15:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
Saturday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
Sunday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 22:00

Website: barbandol.co.uk
Phone: +44 (0) 207 351 1322
Email: contact@barbandol.co.uk

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Grain Store, London

Last week, on the hottest day of the year, we headed to Bruno Loubet’s new place in King’s Cross: Grain Store.

Whilst entry does require running the gauntlet of the new Granary Square development (fountains, buggies, deck chairs et al), once inside the management have done a great job of creating a light and airy warehouse space that screams MEATPACKING DISTRICT.

At those temperatures lunch was always going to be dominated by drinks and just a quick glance at the cocktail menu confirmed that we had made the perfect choice for a lazy afternoon. We started with the Cedar Wood Lemonade (Cedar Wood Fino Sherry, Lemon Juice and Soda) and it didn’t disappoint, walking that tricky line between refreshment and masculinity perfectly.

The next choice, a black truffle-infused martini, wasn’t quite the same ringing success and frankly seemed like a waste of good fungi. Luckily, we had hedged our bets and its arrival coincided with the appearance of a cracking bottle of Muscadet, so all was well with the world once more.

Our initial concerns that the menu might be designed for ‘hippies who lunch’ were allayed when starters of crudités with cashew and yeast dip and olive soil, and falafels made with courgette, broad bean and prawn arrived beautifully presented. Cardigan-wearing festival food this isn’t: just a timely reminder that we all need more vegetables in our lives.

The main courses were similarly veg-focused but with perfectly-cooked lamb belly, pork belly, quail and the like added as garnish. This is guilt-free food and, when combined with one of the best drinks lists we have seen in ages, proved to be the perfect anecdote to the stuffy day outside.

Interior

Cost of meal with 1 bottle of wine (and cocktails):
£40 per person

Food:
8 out of 10 – genuinely innovative and refreshingly different

Atmosphere:
7 out of 10 – the large room started to feel a little empty by the end of lunch

Service:
9 out of 10 – polite, friendly and helpful

Overall:
8 out of 10

Summary in seven:
Another exciting new option in King’s Cross

Details:
Grain Store
Granary Square, 1-3 Stable Street, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4AB
Tel: 020 7324 4466

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