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Opened by three childhood friends with a love of food and drink, the North Audley Cantine (N.A.C) is a relaxed Mayfair bistrot and cocktail lounge offering French sharing plates and desserts in a
cool, clean-lined setting of whitewashed walls, brown leather banquettes and contemporary lighting. Graze your way through gussied-up classics such as tuna niçoise, ‘oeuf parfait’ with forest
mushrooms, grissini-crusted veal escalope or seared scallops with roasted butternut squash, before hitting the sweet spot with profiteroles, madeleines or churros with popping candy, dulce de leche
ice cream and chocolate sauce. By contrast, the basement lounge is a sophisticated mash-up of mismatched vintage furniture, sofas and antique mirrored walls – ideal if you want to get down with
some eclectic sounds and creative concoctions such as Lady Grey (Earl Grey-infused gin, with hints of vanilla, peach, lime and Champagne).
I kept getting the name wrong, before I worked out that it stood for North Audley Cantine. Not canteen, nor cantina, just cantine. It’s French.I’d been here when it opened and we were the only people eating. Then it was all sharing plates and I remember it being a little confusing; they just seemed to be serving three-quarter sized versions of conventional dishes. But I’d remembered that it was well-prepared and I’d been meaning to come back. Like a few places along North Audley Street, they have tables outside for you to while away the afternoon, if you like that sort of thing.Eight months on and it’s still here, though I worry for them. According to my extensive searches, also known as Google search, this is a venture dreamt up by childhood friends in their mid-twenties. MID-twenties for pity’s sake. I was an articled clerk, frightened of my own shadow. Open a business? I’d more likely have thrown a custard pie in my boss’s face. And the property lawyer in me, never entirely absent, worrying about compliance and planning permission and listed building regs, as she does, is thinking about the rents not to mention the rates and unless it gets busier, it’s going to be costing someone a tidy sum to keep paying those Mayfair bills...
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