Located at the border of Chelsea and South Kensington, Brasserie Gustave serves traditional French cuisine with a seasonal twist. The low-key street presence of the entrance hints to the fact that this is not a show-off place, but somewhere you come for great quality food. After being greeted by Richard Weiss, the friendly sommelier and restaurant manager, we were seated in a red leather booth. Like the exterior, the interior is pretty relaxed, with comfortable furniture and just enough decorative accents to create the French brasserie atmosphere.
We started off with two refreshing glasses of Kir Royale while scanning the menu. For my starter, I chose the venison carpaccio with black truffle, while my friend opted for the hand-dived scallops, also with a generous helping of truffle. The venison had a melt-in-the-mouth texture, and was lightly dressed and not too oily. I managed to get a taste of the scallops as well, which were served with a delicious and slightly bitter parsnip mash. The scallops themselves were seared to a light brown, crips perfection, while being almost sashimi-like inside. So far we were very pleased with our meal. For the mains, I went for the fillet of sea bass with roast garlic and vegetables. The crisp skin worked wonderfully with the succulent fish. My friend had the entrecote, which he happily devoured and said it was to a very high standard. For my dessert, I had the chocolate fondant, which I believe is a good gauge of the quality of a French restaurant. It was gooey and dark, but it was served with banana ice cream rather than the usual vanilla. This didn't work too well, and a classic combination like that should be left as is. My friend ordered the caramelised apple tart, one of their specials, and it is intended for two people. He did his best to finish it on his own, but after our huge and tasty meal it proved challenging. I helped him out as best I could, but at the end we had to give up and consider ourselves done with a great, classic meal.
In addition to the honest, high quality food, something that really stood out to me at Brasserie Gustave was the atmosphere. By 8pm the room was buzzing with people, and you almost felt like you knew the strangers sitting on the next table. Everyone was happy and friendly, and the slight bravado of the sommelier helped with this. The couple next to us ordered a bottle of champagne, which was sabered in a performance for all the diners to enjoy. Despite this showiness, I would say there was very little pretence in Brasserie Gustave, and that it seems like a true neighbourhood restaurant where food and good company comes first.
We were invited to review Brasserie Gustave, and the opinions expressed are our own.