le chabanaisMayfair’s Le Chabanais has closed just two weeks after Inaki Aizpitarte, the chef behind the estimable Le Chateaubriand in Paris, severed ties with the restaurant. Proof, perhaps, (if proof were needed) that no matter how enthusiastic the hype, a big name with an even bigger price-tag is no guarantee of a sure-fire winner.

Signs of teething problems were first in evidence when the restaurant opened, in the suitably well-heeled environs of Mount Street, to a smattering of invited guests back in May. Almost immediately the venue closed its doors again due to a mechanical fault in the kitchen, meanwhile some of the dishes were retooled and reworked.

When Le Chabanais (named after the infamous Parisian brothel) finally became available to the public a month later, a string of bad reviews followed in the British press.

The Evening Standard’s venerable Fay Maschler was among those unimpressed by her visit, feeling it was a disappointing sibling to the Paris original and grossly overpriced too. Indeed she suspected that ‘after nearly 10 years the owners of Le Chateaubriand probably wanted a nice comfortable cheque’.

When AA Gill reviewed the place for his Sunday Times column Table Talk, he took his colleague Camilla Long as a dining companion – that must have been a daunting combo for the waiting staff. He was, perhaps, typically cutting, but underneath there was the same disappointment of an opportunity missed. Those dishes that were excellent merely served to highlight how poor others had been and how much better the experience could have been.

The Guardian’s Jay Rayner at least enjoyed the food, although it was rather overshadowed by his incredulousness at the yards of burnished brass and “absurd prices”.

Aizpitarte confirmed that he had cut his links to Le Chabanais in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday 17 August. The restaurant’s spokesperson would only say: “We can confirm that the relationship with Inaki and the partners of Le Chateaubriand has ended, but beyond that we cannot comment at this stage.”

Le Chabanais was conceived by Varun Talreja, a film producer, together with Aizpitarte and his partners Franck Audoux and Laurent Cabut.

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