Food & Drink: Eating Out - Vive la vieille cuisine!

Tired of the trendy? You won't find any pepper in your ice cream at Amandier, where trad is the word

French food cooked by French chefs in French restaurants is not exactly the height of fashion. Maybe not even in France. But pursuit of the latest food fads has been straining my patience and digestion; I've had it up to here with wasabi and won tons, and I longed to be wilfully unfashionable just for once, to go somewhere irony is unknown. Remember when Anglo-French cooking held sway, when starters were starters, main courses majored on a piece of meat or fish, and puddings were always staggering feats of sweetness? We've thrown off our thrall to French queezeen, which is no bad thing, but eclecticism has been getting out of hand. Now you can hardly tell courses apart when a meal begins with meat and two veg in miniature, mains come in vertiginous towers of layered ingredients, and even desserts aren't necessarily different, what with pepper in the ice cream, chilli on the pineapple, and tomato on top of the pannacotta. Any of which can be delicious.

But sometimes it's a joyous relief to find a floating island - cloud- like meringue on custard cream covered with caramel - for afters. The opening of an unreformed French restaurant in London is such a rare event you'd expect it to turn as many heads as the latest publicity-boosted, French-Vietnamese-themed gaff or sushi on roller skates, but it took a while for news of Amandier to filter through to me. When it did, I decided it was just what I needed.

The chef Daniel Gobet has arrived here via some of London's most archetypal French restaurants, notably Mon Plaisir, and though only six months old, his new one is a grandish, carpeted restaurant of the old eau de nil school. Small is also exclusive, and Amandier, on an anonymously expensive stuccoed corner near Lancaster Gate, is certainly petite. On its own it probably wouldn't be viable, but it shares a kitchen with the cheaper, simpler-of-menu Bistro Daniel downstairs.

Other diners were middle aged or older, and my consort, staggering round the corner from the Royal Society of Literature - venerable authors with large advances take note - immediately identified the ambience as "very Kensington". His geography was out by about half a mile, but his demography was spot on. Though it's always diverting to see someone you recognise in a restaurant, it's less so when that someone is a long-retired member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, and even then only the original grey businessman in a suit.

It would be cruel to suggest that Lord Young is Amandier's target customer, but this too gives you an idea of the tone of the place.

Also at odds with contemporary impatience, they made us wait some time for our food. Fabulous rolls, so fresh from the oven they were almost too hot to touch, and a good selection of wines by the glass from a list where madcap Australian names give way to established Chateaux, kept us going. Parmesan tartelette with croquant vegetables - crunchy asparagus, courgette, carrot, beetroot and others - was too much like a salad for my consort's liking, and where was the pastry? The tartelette part was a lacy, cheesy basket that he wasn't convinced he should eat.

Just as well he got his vegetables in then, because that was the last greenery he saw. He'd been sold the off-menu bouillabaisse special as main course and, though very good, its tidiness - this was no rustic bowl of soup sprouting ungainly sealife - made the absence of accompaniments conspicuous. Though tame for a bouillabaisse, with neat pieces of fish and scallops, the sauce-like soup had hidden depths, with a splash of anise and a lobster base to give it a bisquey quality.

The other starter, layers of pasta between pureed aubergine, spinach and tomato, surrounded by a lake of intense tomato sauce with chives was a deliciously modern, Provencal take on lasagne, and vegetarian into the bargain. My main course, a thick, circular, perfectly cooked fillet of Scotch beef, with pomme fondant and Bordelaise sauce, again speckled in that typically French way with chives, was pleasing but not remarkable.

At the first bite of fondant potato I noticed there was no salt and pepper on the table. This used to be a sign of the dictatorial chef - he, and it's always he, will be convinced his food needs no adjustment - and, although there was no other sign of egotism on the chef's part, it did confirm the kitchen's seriousness. I'd noticed the absence of self-service salt because the potato called for a speck more.

The red meat, the red wine sauce, the butter-basted potatoes and token green vegetables weren't exactly what the doctor ordered, but were exactly what I'd been looking for; not tremendously exciting, but the perfect antidote to the usual frenzied ingredient overload.

Anyway, Amandier still had its trump card up its sleeve. The point of puddings is that just when you think you can't eat any more they convince that you can and should. These succeeded gloriously. Passion fruit brulee, a large, shallow free-standing version more like a mousse, beautifully decorated with perfect raspberries and strawberries and surrounded with sensational strawberry sauce - they'd call it a coulis - was greeted with a spontaneous gasp of surprise from one who doesn't think a brulee should be messed about with. Chocolate souffle, into which raspberry coulis (or sauce, if you insist) was poured, with a raspberry sorbet in a brandysnap basket on the side, was just as breathtakingly good.

Petits fours with coffee were surplus to requirements but exquisite none the less. The stately pace of the meal, the price (dinner's a set pounds 29.50 for three courses, a few dishes have pounds 2 supplements), the earnestly incomprehensible waiters, the tasteful dullness of dining room and Piaf-esque background music are all reasons people have decamped from French restaurants. But the virtues of Amandier outweighed these outmoded aspects. For those who are tired of the trendy, either because they've had enough, or couldn't be doing with it in the first place, Amandier should suit not just the Lord Youngs at heart. We liked it too.

Amandier, 26 Sussex Place, London W2 (0171-723 8395/0171-262 6073). Open Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner. Major cards except Diners. Lunch pounds 15.50 two courses, pounds 19.50 three courses. Dinner pounds 25.50 two courses, pounds 29.50 three courses. 12.5 per cent service added. Bistro Daniel lunch pounds 9.95 two courses, pounds 12.95 three courses, around pounds 20 a la carte.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions