Great food, sunshine and a move to the French military harbour of Toulon rekindled the rugby magic for Jonny Wilkinson. Unfortunately I don't think I'll have any calls coming in from Laporte to fill his boots. A shame; I do fancy the Mediterranean. So with that move looking unlikely, the next best thing for me when the sun came out in London was to take a trip to the capital's finest French Brasserie. Causing a stir on Conduit Street in the heart of Mayfair is Brasserie Chavot. It's the latest venture from acclaimed French Michelin starred chef Eric Chavot. London's playground for the rich and famous is known for its glitz and glamour and some say this Brasserie lacks a bit of that. But I disagree. Simple elegance is its beauty and the food does all the talking. It's a real French dining hall. You're allured by the handsome art deco surroundings and particular attention should be drawn to its magnificent mosaic floor. Unlike many of his neighbours though, Chavot's atmosphere is understated and I like that. It's endearing.
The food is quite the opposite. Strong, rich, flavoursome and most of all, just so confident. If it bears any reflection of Mr Chavot himself I feel like I know the bloke. I had my friend - an artisan chef along for the evening and our mouths kept us both schtum from start to finish. We were taken on a real tour through the menu. The rillettes are superb; light and creamy. Then onto the soft shell crab, a must have speciality of the house and the escargots looked irresistible. The flavour was immense. Under orders from the waitress who wanted us to try as much as possible we were dipping in and out of each others dishes. It's the way food should be enjoyed - not fussy and non pretentious. Beef and venison to follow. Fuelled with pugnacious flavour, I can say with some confidence it's the best venison I've tasted. A selection of cheeses then arrived. Their introductions made by a gentleman whose sheer passion for his job should be captured on film by Michael Gove and shown to children up and down the country - "Boys and girls, have this zeal about you and life will treat you well". Dessert followed promptly; a rum baba and crème brûlée brought a sublime evening to a close.
With every bite at Brasserie Chavot you get a sense of the boss himself saying, 'Trust me, I've got this'. You can taste the love for what he's doing. It's gallant cuisine and fine dining at its very best.