Boulestin used to be one of the most expensive restaurants in London with clientele from the high societies, and this was back in the 1920s. Xavier Marcel Boulestin brought French cuisines and its culinary culture to England. It was really the place to be and no doubt the place to be seen.
Joel Kissin did say he was not trying to recreate the restaurant, however with its Mayfair location, creamed walls and plush cushion chairs, there was still an air of poshness in this modern version of Boulestin.
Oeuf en Meurette
This is a classic country dish, I remember having this almost every Sunday during my days in isolated French villages, but not something I see very often on menus in London. It's basically poached egg in a red wine sauce.
The egg was perfectly poached, floating in a reduced red wine sauce. The yolk spilled out to the sauce while the soft silky egg whites took on the flavours. Unlike what we had in France, it didn't have the saute mushrooms and bacon sprinkled on top with toasts on the side, but I was happy with what I was served. I only wish I had more bread to soak up the delicious concoction.
Sweet-cured herrings, potatoes, olive oil, dill
This wasn't really exciting. Compared to what I had in Moscow, this wasn't as good. This herring wasn't fatty enough, the sweetness was masked by the pickles - just generally uninteresting.
Grilled calves liver, pommes Lyonnaise
I was choosing between the roast rack of lamb and this, and the Maitre'd claimed the liver has received very positive reviews.
Apparently it was supposed to be served pink. Unfortunately this arrived cooked through, which means it was quite parched and grainy. Two large slabs of very dense liver, with a jus that I thought was a bit flat and too salty, plus overcooked potatoes, were hard to stomach. This was nowhere as good as the calve's liver I had at Galvin Bistro de Luxe.
Roast pigeon, girolles, lardons, kale
This was much better, the bird was cooked to a scarlet pink with soft and tender muscles. It was cooked very well to bring out the gamey taste of the pigeon. I thought the jus was very similar to what I had with my grilled liver, and as mentioned above, it lacked depth and didn't do much to support the meat.
We ordered spinach on the side - cold, bland and slack.
Overall I was disappointed. When the menu offers very classic French fare, and the restaurant is demanding £20-26 for a main course, I would expect the kitchen to have nailed the dishes with precise execution. It just felt very sloppy and uninteresting. Service wasn't great either; there was a long wait between our courses, and an even longer wait for our bill. Nonetheless it was a soft launch and so there were understandably hiccups and teething problems. I hope Boulestin will run more smoothly after its official opening, unfortunately it didn't show me enough to prompt another visit for me. I'd be heading to Brasserie Chavot for my fix of classic french fare.
5 St. James's Street
SW1A 1EFTel: 0207 930 2030