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Founded in 1927 by French chef, author and polymath Marcel Boulestin, the original Boulestin restaurant was a Covent Garden grandee for nearly 70 years. Now, one-time Conran collaborator Joel
Kissin has brought it back to life in a new home across town. The new Boulestin is more elegant than some of its brasserie rivals, with butterscotch leather banquettes, meticulously laid (if
tightly spaced) tables, checkerboard tiled floors and frosted glass partitions looking like a set from Poirot. The food is also a cut above: ‘exquisite’ oeufs en gelée get the vote, while calf’s
liver is perfectly grilled if let down by overcooked bacon, or there’s a rich cassoulet imbued with smoky Toulouse sausage. Desserts raise the bar – our bewitchingly creamy, boozy Sauternes custard
with Agen prunes will live long in the memory. Service is efficient if aloof. For ‘great-value’ breakfasts and casual lunches, try Café Marcel next door.
A victim of the 90s recession, the esteemed restaurant Boulestin was forced to close its doors in 1994. Fast-forward to September 2013 it’s back, and has shimmied over from its old Covent Garden site to the more illustrious setting of St.James’s Street.Owned in 1925 by Marcel Boulestin, hence the name, Joel Kissin now heads this fine French brasserie. Café style dining is at the front of the restaurant, which leads into more elegant and formal dining at the back. If weather permits, there’s an option to dine al fresco in the enchanting and secluded courtyard. I eat at the back of the restaurant, which has just enough other diners, who are mostly seniors, to make for a nice atmosphere...
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I love these sunny daysâ¦I think that is the beauty of being English, as soon as it is a nice day (a rare occurrence) you can't stop smiling!! Today was one of those days. Pascal and I had our usual chat of where can we go that has great food, lovely rose and a garden and I really came up trumps. I had read about Boulestin a few weeks ago but I was put off by the prices but actually compared to the majority of restaurants in central London, it wasn't too bad. The original Boulestin was opened in Covent Garden by French chef, author and polymath (just had to look up what that means in the dictionary!) Marcel Boulestin in 1927 however it closed after 70 years until Joel Kissin reopened the restaurant in St James. The emphasis is on fine french food and wine - Heaven for Pascal.Unfortunately you cannot book the tables outside, they operate on a first come first serve basis, so we arrived at the restaurant at 11.55am and were the first ones there! The terrace is beautiful, it is a courtyard amongst old tall London houses and would be a peaceful haven if there wasn't building work going on around it!! We chose a table and ordered Pascal's favourite drink - Ricard!The menu was extremely french and I knew exactly what I wanted to order (I had obviously studied the menu previously). I went for the courgette flowers with ricotta, basil and tomato to start.I love courgette flowers, they are such a treat as I don't see them on menus often and I would have no idea how to make them. These were absolutely scrumptious and literally melted in your mouth, I would really recommend them.Pascal had the grilled English asparagus with Bayonne ham and a poached egg. This was also delicious - I should have popped into the kitchen for lessons on poaching as the egg was perfect!For mains I ordered the cassoulet de Toulouse - the waiter warned me that it was a big hearty dish - it didn't put me off and instead encouraged me!!This was the best cassoulet I have ever had, delicious garlic sausage, crispy pork, white beans, herby breadcrumbs - I loved it and had no problem polishing nearly the whole lot off!Pascal was torn between the grilled calves' liver and bacon (yuk) or the tete de veau with sauce ravigote which is calves' head with tongue and brains (double yuk) - he went for the latter and I wasn't tempted by a taste! I took his word for it that it was very very good!We didn't really need sides but we ordered fries and 'pommes Anna' which was layered potatoes with butter, similar to dauphannois but without the cream and cheese. Both were brilliant - the chips were so good they didn't even need ketchup or mayonnaise and Pascal and I fought over the last bite of the potatoes Anna.We were far too full for cheese or puddings unfortunately which was a shame as they have a good selection of both.It was a really good meal - the rose was perfect, the food delicious and the setting beautiful. The waiters were extremely helpful, attentive and courteous. The meal was faultless. I even spotted a Royal in the restaurant and if it good enough for the Royal family, it is certainly good enough for me!!As we left I was even congratulated by the maitre d' on my ability to eat the entire cassoulet!! Such a piglet!!!Boulestin5 St James Street,LondonSW1A 1EFTel: 020 7930 2030
More from THIS LITTLE PIGGY LOVES FOOD! »
Nestled down the 'prettier' end of St James's is the brand new restaurant and newest addition to James Kissin's books, Boulestin. One of my best boy's booked us in for the opening lunch on Saturday and we were transported to France in an instant...The restaurant sits 60 covers in a relaxed bistro-style setting. It also has a walk in café, seating 30, towards the front to serve the near by hungry financiers of St. James's. We were lucky enough to be sat in the gorgeous terrace which is surrounded by Victorian houses and oozes Old London history. If you can go before the weather fades, try to book outside... it really is special...
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