It's a shame I didn't get to try their bar downstairs, because it looks very cool. Unfortunately, I went to North Audley Cantine (NAC) at lunchtime, so while I did fancy tucking into their array of cocktails, the necessity of working in the afternoon prohibited me from doing so.
Luckily for my companion - my mother-in-law in fact - the post-lunch period promised a well-deserved snooze, so while I supped on a delicious ginger/apple-y mocktail, she was more than happy to try a Lady Grey. She assured me it was just right, "astringent and refreshing but with a buzz," she told me. You can see she's a writer.
This humble little restaurant just off Oxford Street opposite Selfridges is a cracking new edition to central London dining. Set up by three childhood friends, it riffs on the current penchant in the capital for sharing plates. Here, it's French bistro-style food with their own twist. For an semi-indulgent lunch, it was almost perfect.
The smiley waitresses discussed going out to buy the crockery and nudged us towards certain dishes, which made the service feel very matey, almost like a family venture. I like the sense of inclusivity, which felt honest, kind of 'we're all in it together'.
Everything pretty much came at the same time, so we were wisely suggested the oeuf parfait, slow-cooked egg with mushrooms and truffles to accompany cod goujons coated with panko breadcrumbs alongside a homemade tartar sauce for dipping. We wanted some proper meat too, so got the beef (sliced pieces of steak really) and scallops Saint Jacques-style.
The egg was surprisingly decadent without being overwhelming, while my mother-in-law loved the fish, which were crispy and light. The scallops were spectacular, perfectly-cooked and moreish, while I could have eaten another entire portion of beef. Fortunately, my companion was less greedy than me, so I got the majority of it.
The sharing platter concept was convivial and fun and "avoids other-person's-choice-envy" according to my mum-in-law. She was right.
There's a daily dessert and we were urged to try it. Shortbread with raspberries and what tasted like crème patissiere was lovely, but the star was the churros with popping candy and dulcey ice-cream, which we had to order. The popping candy is an inspired retro touch.
We left full but not bloated (and not inebriated thankfully, though the cocktails were difficult to resist as the meal went on).
I'd like to go back for a drink in the evening, though I was told it's primo hedge fund manager territory. I'm hoping NAC isn't taken over by those guys (though it would be better for their balance sheet), but in the meantime, this is a cracking venue to break away from Christmas shopping for a good nosh.