The last time ELLEuk had dinner in the building which now houses Cassis was back in the 90s, when it was a close-to-mothballed brasserie with zero atmosphere and tragic chips. It was like grazing beneath a particularly ominous black cloud, and the thing that particularly stuck in the memory was a Kafkaesque trek to a bathroom that felt like it was located in another borough.
At Cassis, the bathrooms are handy, the food is slick and the room feels bright, shiny and full of wealth and buzz. Celebrity restaurateur Marlon Abela (Umu, The Greenhouse; Mortons Club) has brought a much-needed lift to the V&A end of the Brompton Road there should be a plethora of fantastic dining options along this stretch of road from Harrods to the high fashion of Brompton Cross, but for the longest time there hasnt been.
Cassis is a fantastic lunch, dinner and weekend brunch spot sophisticated but relaxed with sharp but not obtrusive service. The room is a very pleasing mix of white tiling and warmer textiles and sawn-log wood panelling. The art is of the fashionable variety (Julian Opie, black and white film stills ) and the whole front of the room opens up to extend dining to the pavement on warm days and evenings.
Theres a list of lovely continental, frothy, effervescent aperitifs: Aperol spritzer, Pastis with mineral water, kir royal with blueberries And in lieu of any amuse bouches there are eight petites bouchées on offer, from a olive tapenade to a charcuterie selection. The whole table was taken with the idea of the cromesquis, a chorizo croquette. Everyone ordered it; everyone thought it was just okay. Far better were entrees of razor clams (also with chorizo) and a lemon-and-thyme-infused bowl of scallops with white beans. A plate of pan-fried foie gras was lush and a main of rabbit fricassee a la Provençale with rosemary potatoes gave everyone who didnt order it menu envy. A veggie main an artichoke and ricotta ravioli was simple, but made immensely impressive with a strong sage emulsion. (Are there any better friends to pasta than sage and butter?)
To finish up with, theres a very decadent Grand Marnier and orange soufflé for pudding thats big enough to share. Or, like us, you can opt to booze it up with a dessert cocktail, the Raspberry Cheesecake, which mixed Raspberry Stoli with mascarpone and double cream, a raspberry liqueur and fresh fruit. It was like drinking a quart of cream, but it was also curiously, delightfully, cheesecake-y.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Provençale bistro
Good for: Quick bite after work; pre-theatre; special occasion; first date; romantic; group dinner; work lunch/dinner
Prices and Other Details at Cassis
Address: 232 Brompton Road, Kensington, London SW3 2BB
Opening times: 12pm-11pm, daily.
Average price per person for two course meal without wine: £30
Set menu: £17 (two- course lunch menu); £20 (three -course lunch menu)
Price of bottle of house wine: £19, Mynus+, Viura-Muscat, Campo de Borja, Spain (white); £19, Mynus+, Garnacha-Tempranillo, Campo de Borja, Spain (red).
Price of glass of house wine: £5, as above.
Price of glass of house champagne: £11, N.V. Goutorbe-Bouillot Brut Carte dOr
Price of bottle of house champagne: £55 (as above)
Private dining? No
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Bar? Yes for non-diners (happy hour 3pm-7pm daily)
Best table? There is a row of booths for parties of four opposite the bar and who doesnt love a booth?
Who goes? Mature, wealthy Knightsbridge locals and a younger, chic, Chelsea set.
Nearest tube: South Kensington