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Chelsea Brasserie SW1
Funny place Sloane Square. Shoppers and the local residents sashay by, resplendent in the choicest fabrics and beautiful shoes and immaculate hair-dos. And that's just the men. It all makes for good people-watching, which helps explain the perennial success of the Square's lacklustre Oriel brasserie.
Seeing as it calls itself a brasserie, this newcomer opposite would, at first sight, appear, to provide some real local competition. But whereas Oriel is your classic cod-French joint, the newcomer is svelte and contemporary. And - with its sophisticated décor, with much use of wood, patches of bare brick walls with inlaid strips of mirrors, and trendy green dangly lamps - it lacks the 'drop-in' feel of a classic brasserie.
On the food front, the brasserie term seems similarly misleading. Chef David Karlsson MÃ¶ller admittedly used to be one of the head honchos at a fantastic nearby 'brasserie' - Knightsbridge's Racine. But the dishes on the menu here seem a notch more complex.
A test meal kicked off with moreish bread and accompanied - just as it is at Racine - with fine French (Echiré) butter. The starter was slivers of melted Raclette, under a well-dressed mix of potato and red onion. Next up was tasty (if slightly chewy) partridge, served spatchcock-style, with chestnuts, (brilliant) Dauphinoise potatoes and chocolate sauce (which was good, if less startling than it might sound). Pudding - poached Victoria plums with almond cream - had that confident simplicity that is too often the preserve of our friends across the Channel.
In fact, all the food had a dash of sure-footed Gallic panache that's still too rare in British kitchens. It is complemented by a drinks list that includes not only a short well-chosen selection of wines, but an exemplary choice of beers, both mainstream and specialist.
Finally - after weeks of searching - somewhere that really does deserve four stars!
7-12 Sloane Sq, London, SW1W 8EG
lunch noon - 3 pm, dinner 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 10.30 pm