Tel: +44 (0)20 7224 1898
Address: 19 Blandford Street, London W1H 3AD
Cuisine Type: modern European
Bond Street (CENTRAL), Baker Street (METROPOLITAN, CIRCLE, HAMMERSMITH & CITY, BAKERLOO, JUBILEE)
‘Xaviers Brasserie is the first in a line of conceptual restaurants, the brainchild of Eugene Bari, who developed the idea after a period of extensive travel. Drawing inspiration from Australia, America and the Continent the result is a relaxed, intimate environment reflected in the décor that combines a subtle blend of state of the art technology with the talents of various artists and architects who responded to the challenge of creating something original and stylish.’
So runs the introduction on their website. Not having read this until after my visit, I was slightly bemused by a menu which seems firmly bedded in Italy (Veal Filled Ravioli, Tagliolini with fresh Lobster) but then veers off suddenly to Japan for Crispy Japanese Chicken, returning via New York and London for Lock Stock & Bagel.
However once you’ve adjusted to the time changes the menu offers some tempting fare. The aforementioned crispy chicken could have been crispier but the flavour was vibrant, and the same applied to a deep fried fresh crab and cream cheese paupiette, served with a spicy tomato coulis. Quite a few chillies had died for that sauce so if you like your food hot, this could be the place for you: they don’t mess around. The veal escalopes were superb; even if ordering veal meant a big guilt trip. Oven baked breast of duck came with a delicious Cointreau and mixed berry sauce, though the duck itself could have been pinker.
Seasonal vegetables were simple but perfectly cooked, still (alas) not that common in London. Puddings were also good – and here the London influence allows some British classics such as Treacle Tart and Rhubarb and Apple Crumble. The Zabaglione and Cream Ice Cream and the Tarte Tatin were both wickedly good.
Xaviers is a small restaurant, which acts as a brasserie / upmarket sandwich shop at lunchtime (they also do takeaway, and you can even order through the website). The location is a quiet backwater in between Oxford Street and Marylebone Road. The service is good and it was nice to see that although only open a few months, it already has regular customers. The prices are also very reasonable – £3-£6 for starters and £7-£14 for main courses, with that lobster tagliolini at a very modest £8.95.
A short but interesting wine list is also well priced. All in all, a good find: the cooking is robust rather than subtle, but that’s not always a bad thing, and the atmosphere is pleasantly relaxed.