Chabrot Bistrot D’Amis was, on paper at least, a very promising proposition – a quaint new French bistro in Knightsbridge with a kitchen run by a Michelin starred chef, a front of house led by a gentleman with experience at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Nobu and Nahm, and a wine list put together by a well-respected sommelier. Couple that with a number of positive reviews and it ranked as a must try.
We shared 3 starters: 6 escargots au beurre persillé – Snails in parsley butter, Chipirons frits et piment d’Espelette – Crispy baby squid and piment d’Espelette and Pâté de foie de canard tiède, gougères au Comté - Duck liver warm pâté, Comté cheese popovers. The snails were decent - slightly better than the last escargot dish I had, at Brasserie Roux, but still not great. The crispy squid was also alright, but could have done with a dipping sauce of some sort to counterbalance the dryness of the dish. The pâté, with small chunks of liver, was easily the best dish of the night – it had a lovely texture and a good, earthy flavour. I also liked the use of the gougère as a vessel for the pâté but it could have been have been a bit lighter and more airy; the Comté cheese was completely undetectable.
My main course, Bar sauvage en croute de sel, fenouil – Wild seabass in salt crust, fennel salad was reasonable, but nothing all that special and hardly worth the £29.50 it was priced at. Another main course, Entrecôte d’O Sheas, Beurre Maitre d’Hôtel – Sirloin from our local butcher O’Sheas, Beurre Maitre d’hôtel (45 days dry aged) was requested medium rare but was so overcooked it arrived verging on the well done – absolutely inexcusable. A side order of Fries was excellent.
Service, which started out fine (when the room was empty), got progressively worse throughout the night (by the end of which the room was still only half full). We were seated in the upstairs area which was serviced by just one waitress but it wasn’t so much a case of her being overworked as just plain slow. Watching her amble around while we sat waiting, at some length, for our plates to be cleared after the main course, and then again for the dessert menu to be brought was irritating in the extreme. By the time she finally got round to taking our dessert orders, we had decided it was time to cut our losses and just write the place off.
It’s almost incredible how badly wrong an ensemble of highly qualified individuals such as the team behind Chabrot Bistrot D’Amis could get something. I don’t drink so I can’t comment on the wine list, but Le Gavroche and Le Louis XV-trained Thierry Laborde’s kitchen couldn’t even cook a piece of steak correctly to order, and the member of Yann Chevris’ wait team who served us was dreadfully inefficient.
The décor and ambience at the restaurant failed to impress either. The first floor room where we sat was bland and dull. The main dining room downstairs was, admittedly, more atmospheric, but the setting still reminded me more of Café Rouge than the South of France. At almost £50 per head (no desserts and just 2 beers), prices could hardly be described as bargainous either. I should point out that Chabrot Bistrot D’Amis does have a set lunch menu, known as the “Formule Bistro”, consisting of a meal, a glass of wine and a coffee gourmand (classic French coffee accompanied by a mini dessert) for £17.50, which sounds like quite good value but that, of course, didn’t apply to us.
In a nutshell...
To be fair, most of the dishes were passable - nothing that would ever draw you back, but nothing that would make you swear off the place either. But what will leave a lasting memory was the woefully inept attempt at cooking a steak, and the poor service.
Chabrot Bistrot D’Amis
9 Knightsbridge Green, London, SW1X 7QL
Average Price: £40