Why is Oxford Street such a popular shopping destination? Shopping for clothes with my better half on Monday, as a treat for his birthday (the haul, not the act of shopping itself) we headed straight for John Lewis and then hot-footed it out of Oxford Street and onto the more genteel surroundings of Regent Street. The wide boulevard, beautiful shop fronts, better quality brands – it puzzles me why Oxford Street wears the shopping tourist crown.
Anyway, three pairs of shoes later and having earned lunch by walking from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly and then North to Marylebone, we stumbled upon Aubaine – a French restaurant with a local feel. Marylebone still has a villagey atmosphere, despite being right in the centre of town. You won’t find the big fashion brands here – just lovely boutiques, pubs and restaurants with character. This is where we want to grow up (not old) when the kids leave home, although property prices are off the scale here.
Steve started with Eggs Royal, with a perfectly poached egg and rich hollandaise sauce, while I had Salade a la Fourme d’Ambert – chicory, endive, pear, blue cheese and walnut salad. The endive was a bit limp but the salad was well balanced, and had just the right amount of dressing to provide an acidic tang.
For our main course, Steve had the Lamb Cassoulet, a thick stew made with tomato, haricot beans and sausage. I had the Aubaine Burger, which was divine. The word burger brings to mind minced meat in a dense slab: Aubaine’s burger was made with shredded cuts of the finest steak, cooked to perfection and served in the fluffiest bun. The truffle sauce was a delicious addition and the French fries were crisp and even.
Aubaine’s clientele seemed familiar with their surroundings. The table next to us spoke of how the butcher’s shop opposite had once been less refined, selling bacon sarnies for 40p (sounds amazing!), and on the other side a couple of elegant French ladies poked at their salads.
The restaurant manages to pull off an air of discretion without feeling too exclusive and the rustic interior manages to fit in with the cosmopolitan neighbourhood.
The bill came to just over £70 for 2 with 2 glasses of wine. I would definitely go back and would have the burger again!
Aubaine, 7 Moxon Street, London W1U 4EP. Website here.