May 30 2012 By Joe McGuire
Chardon d'Or Brian Maule Image 4
Address: 176 West Regent Street Phone: 248 3801 Web: www.brianmaule.com
I ALWAYS like dealing with family companies.
There’s something reassuring knowing that a business isn’t just a faceless corporation, but has a human face behind it. I find it doubly reassuring when an individual has such faith in their product that they’ll put their name to it.
In the case of West Regent street restaurant Chardon d’Or, owner and chef Brian Maule has the confidence to stick his name above the door. It’s a confidence that’s completely justified.
I visited last Friday night, the day after Maule, who trained under culinary masters the Roux brothers, took home Chef of the Year at the CIS Awards, an auspicious omen for my review.
Walking in to Chardon d’Or we were immediately greeted by the maitre de who ushered my friend and I to our window table. From there I could survey the entire room, an airy and open space, tastefully decorated and with bluesy jazz playing softly in the background. It made for easy listening as I selected a bottle.
The restaurant enjoys a reputation for fine wines, and holds regular tasting nights. Perusing the extensive wine menu it was clear to see this reputation is well merited. I chose a bottle of South African sauvignon blanc, Elgin Ridge 282 (£36) which was the finest I’ve had.
Reading the menu I was faced with the only unpleasant part of the evening-choosing just one starter and main. While waiting on our starters a foie gras amuse bouche whet our appetites nicely and promised excellence to come.
To kick things off I chose the pan friend crevetts with chorizo, red pepper compote, and sauce aioli (£10.50). Presented so beautifully I felt a tad guilty about eating it, the unusual combination of king prawns and chorizo was an absolute winner.
My friend chose the goats cheese which was served with a beetroot salad, walnuts and caramelised apple (£8.95) and she reported that it was “divine”.
Next up I chose the roast cod fillet with broccoli puree and grilled leeks, topped with a black olive tapenade (£24). This was an absolute triumph, the fish cooked to perfection and frankly I could’ve happily eaten a whole bowl of the tapenade alone (a puree of olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil). Now I’m not a fussy eater but I’ve never been a broccoli fan; It’s testament to Maule’s training that he could actually make me want more of them, and the grilled leeks where exceptional.
My companion opted for the breast of duck with spinach and tips of asparagus (£23.50). I got a sliver of this myself and it was top notch, the meat succulent and juicy. My friend said her only regret at ordering it was my poor japery of diving under the table when I asked what she ordered.
To round things off I had the homemade ice cream and sorbets selection (£8.95) , with vanilla, pistachio, watermelon and orange the order of the day, all delicious.
My friend thought she ordered the oranges marinated in grenadine, and orange curd with macaroons (£8.50) but what arrived was in fact an artwork-an incredibly tasty artwork admittedly.
A very nice touch is the fact that Maule came out and talked to the table who were finished, sharing a few words with all.
I love that philosophy that because it’s his name on the door, it’s him in the kitchen and on the floor.
He told me that not a single dish leaves the kitchen without his approval and from the excellence on display Friday evening, it’s clear that this diligence has paid off.