Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all pack our suitcases and escape to the South of France for a few weeks? Sitting by the pool sipping ice cold cocktails? Eating delicious Provençal food in a small bistro by a French harbour watching the colourful boats bobbing on the water in the light breeze? Drinking a bottle of one of the amazing rosé wines the region has to offer in a small courtyard café filled with the smell of rosemary and thyme, with the warm evening sun in your face? Wandering through acres and acres of lavender fields to find the perfect picnic spot? It would be, wouldn’t it?
If, like me, you can’t afford to go to the South of France, but live in London, here’s a tip to escape to Provence for a few hours, at least culinary. Aubaine, the all-day dining brasserie which boast its own authentic French patisserie and boulangerie are inviting you to celebrate a ‘Summer en Provence’ across all of its nine London restaurants.
From Monday 18th July until Tuesday 30th August, there will be, in addition to the regular menu, a special menu celebrating the historical southern province in Aubaine’s restaurants in Kensington, Selfridges, Mayfair, Marylebone, Wimbledon, Brompton Cross, Regent Street, Hyde Park and Broadgate Circle bringing a taste of sun-soaked southern France in London.
We were invited to a menu tasting at Aubain’s Marylebone branch in Moxon Street and I can tell you, you are in for a treat. Aubaine’s chefs have created a mouth-watering menu of authentic and traditional Provençal dishes, which are available as Prix Fixe with two courses for £15.50, or three for £19.50.
Diners can choose between three starters: a light Provençale ‘pistou’ with Bayonne ham (pistou is a wonderful vegetable and pasta soup with a dollop of pesto – we really loved this one), a zesty cod brandade with spring leaf & lemon and La Faiselle cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil cress & pansies.
The main courses are succulent roasted corn fed chicken breast with green olives, rosemary and toasted fregola, a tarte Provençal with confit tomatoes, roast courgettes and goats cheese, cheese crotin with red pepper coulis, which is bursting with colours and flavours, the classic steak frites with beurre a la Provençal (this dish is £3 extra) and, my absolute favourite, the hearty ‘La petit bouillabaisse’, prepared with sea bass, red mullet, mussels, squid & potatoes in the most delicious of sauces. Make sure you order some of the lovely restaurant baked bread to go with it to mop up all the juices!
The dessert menu is equally enticing with the star of the show being the traditional favourite (and difficult to find in London) Tart Tropezienne, which originated, as the name suggests, in St Tropez. This version was specially created by Aubaine Head Pastry Chef Alix Andre, and the layers of smooth cream in a buttery brioche feature a touch of orange blossom for a twist on the classic vanilla.
The South of France and especially Provence is famed for its rosé wines and there is a special menu of Provençal rosés from top producers including Miravel, Le Château Beaulieu and Mas La Chevalière. We tried a few of the wines (all in the name of research, of course) and we enjoyed them all.
Or try a limited edition Lavender Ice Tea (which I was not sure about at first, as I am usually not a fan of ‘flowery’ drinks, but ended up a fan) for £4, or a Lavender Collins made with Diplome Dry Gin, lavender syrup, apple juice and lime for £8.
At the menu launch we were also treated to a kind of DIY cocktail bar, only it was the lovely Chris who did all the real work. We started by picking a spirit (vodka or gin or both), one of the homemade syrups (lavender, thyme, rosemary) and then any of a variety of fruit and berries to give the cocktail its flavour. It was then topped off with apple juice or tonic water. Genius! And perfect for a hot day like yesterday.
The Summer en Provence celebrations at Aubaine are a perfect way to have a mini holiday in the middle of the hustle and bustle of London and to enjoy the food and wines the beautiful South of France has to offer.
For branches and opening times please go to