Having recently opened Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone near the site of both Texture and one of the 28-50 chain that he helped to build up so successfully, Xavier Rousset, together with fellow Master Sommelier Gearoid Devaney, has now added Cabotte in the City, near another of the 28-50 bars. One might almost think that he was doing this deliberately.
Whilst neither Blandford Comptoir nor Cabotte could claim to be the culinary destination that Texture aspires to be, they are both certainly a step up from 28-50, both on the food and on the wine fronts.
Cabotte (named after a type of bothy, found amongst the vines in the Côtes- -Nuits, -Beaune and -d'Or) draws on an astonishing wine listed, garnered from some of the finest domaines in the most intriguing wine region in the world: Burgundy. Whether you're looking for a cheeky aligoté or splashing out on a Grand Cru, you will be hard pressed to find a finer wine list anywhere (there's a great touch in the list too, where wines from other regions of France outside of Burgundy come under the "Rest of the World" heading, as if the Dukes of Burgundy had turned back the clocks to pre-1477 when Burgundy was not part of France).
The food too is unashamedly French: the gorgeous slab of ham and parsley terrine comes with chewy sourdough bread; the poached duck egg in a slick of red wine and lardons; beef cheeks; ribeye marinated in rosemary and garlic - this is heady stuff, beautifully cooked by a chef with a fine touch. Not that said chef cannot but help to betray the fact that, whilst he can certainly cook a fine French dish, he doesn't hail from across Le Manche, so Cornish mackerel escabèche and swordfish & crab tartare, with a yuzu dressing and shiso find themselves nestling amongst the starters with the aforementioned terrine and poached duck egg.
A group of eight of us went on the first night of the soft opening, and it was fantastic - between us we tried every starter and every main. They are all terrific: from the crispy skinned "Poulet Gaston Gerard" (posh roast chicken), the samphire and burnt spring onion enhanced [grey] mullet with poached oyster, the rib-stickingly unctuous beef cheeks, through to the perfectly cooked steak (seared on the outside, blood red within), there was nothing but praise; nothing that did not hit the spot. Of course, the free flowing wine, served by not one, but two, Master Sommeliers may have helped, but that is the charm of this paean to the gastronomy of the heart of France.
There are now two private rooms on the upper floor two: one in a wine cellar with a view into the kitchen, and the other a bright, airy room overlooking Gresham Street. Perfect for post-deal or birthday celebrations, or even just to celebrate the fact that it's a Tuesday, and nobody really does a properly long lunch in the City any more (sigh).
Whilst I might not be going in for the 1978 La Tâche DRC (a mere £7,500 if you must ask), I will certainly be returning for a trip down the Côtes to Macon, taking in more manageable properties along the way.