November 8, 2019
Chez Antoinette a little piece of France offering authenticity
If you love France, or even if you have never been there, visit one of Chez Antoinette’s two locations in central London (Victoria and Covent Garden) and you will experience home French cooking at its very best.
Proprietor Aurelia says that everything she knows came straight from her ‘grand mere’ (grandmother), from whom she gained great inspiration in her very early years as a child. Recipes are simple but traditional, and as soon as you walk through the door the aroma is enough for you to want to tuck straight in. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are spoilt for choice whether you are having something to eat on the way to work, lunching with a colleague, or dining out in the evening with your partner – the atmosphere changes from a busy Parisian café style in the mornings to an intimate bijou restaurant in the later hours.
Co-owner Jean-Baptiste says ‘we wanted to create a canteen for the locals and provide the business community with a new dining room’ – well they have certainly managed to do that. It’s a great place for foodie friends to congregate and demonstrate their ‘joie de vivre’, as many used to do in the old-fashioned ‘guidettes’ that sprung up around the River Seine in Paris and on the outskirts of Lyon in the mid-18th century.
We were fortunate enough to visit the Victoria venue, which is only a few minutes from the station and St James’s Park. During the day you can enjoy tarts, tartines and terrines, delicious rolls, creative salads and exquisite pastries and cakes, to name but a few of the choices. Never has ‘grab and go’ food tasted so good.
We decided to have dinner there and were very impressed with the atmosphere and the menu. There is something about French cooking, however simple it is, that only they can create. The family connection was also evident by the décor and ambience with traditional furniture and authentic works of art straight from the family home, which is unique enough in itself. It purely and simply seemed to transport us to Paris and the quaint but charming bistros in the capital, even though we were in the middle of London.
We decided to choose our starters from the sharing platter section of the menu and tucked into a very tasty baked Camembert that simply oozed flavour and was ‘gooey’ as it should be! It came accompanied with equally fine charcuterie. We also sampled the foie gras as this is not so easy to find in restaurants these days. Everything was delicious and you could just imagine a French family around a big table, chattering and enjoying these delights.
Coq au vin and Bavette Steak were next, once again traditional and true to taste. The waiter showed us the excellent wine list and what a choice there was. After all, a French meal is not French without wine! There would have been wine to suit even the most discerning palate.
Whilst we loved how cosy and intimate our evening was, it would be just as lovely in the summer months, sitting outside on one of the tables, sipping wine and people watching. We will certainly try that when the weather improves! Not only was the food wonderful, but it was also kind on the pocket, with everything reasonably priced.
A: 30 The Market Building, London WC2E 8RE
T: 020 7240 9072
W: Chez Antoinette
Written by Rafa Zurita for Luxuria Lifestyle London and International