Brompton Bar & Grill 243 Brompton Road, London SW3

Its predecessor was named after a restaurant reviewer. But is the Brompton Bar & Grill still beyond reproach?

In the course of my 25-year career as a journalist, many people have told me no one ever erected a monument to a critic. But that isn't strictly true. The Brasserie St Quentin – a French bistro that opened in London in 1980 – was named after the late journalist Quentin Crewe. A travel writer and bon vivant, Crewe's lasting claim to fame is that he invented the modern restaurant column.

According to legend, it happened when he was working as an associate editor at Queen magazine in the 1960s. In those days, a typical restaurant review would be full of elegant descriptions of sauces and garnishes, but never made any mention of the other diners on the grounds that to do so would be unspeakably vulgar, given how many plutocrats were entertaining their mistresses at adjoining tables.

One fateful morning, Queen's regular critic failed to materialise and Crewe, who was off to have lunch at Wiltons, volunteered to fill in. On his return to the office, he wrote a scabrous, 1,000-word review in which he described how doddering old aristocrats were served nursery food by buxom waitresses dressed as nannies. The prices, he said, were so exorbitant they resembled death duties.

It caused a sensation. Nothing like it had ever been written before and the modern restaurant column was born.

The Brasserie St Quentin closed in 2008 and a new restaurant has sprung up on the same site: the Brompton Bar & Grill. The owner is François O'Neill, the 24-year-old son of St Quentin's proprietor (Lord Rathcavan), and in many respects he has kept faith with the original. He's stripped out the brass rails and leather banquettes so it no longer resembles a Café Rouge and he's changed the menu from classic French bistro to modern European/British, but it still has a raffish, aristocratic air; modern without being trendy. Judging from the average age of customers, many are the same people who came to the opening night of Brasserie St Quentin 30 years ago. For a restaurant to change hands yet keep hold of its regulars is quite an achievement.

My wife is a vegetarian and had resigned herself to wild-mushroom risotto – usually the only option for non-meat eaters in restaurants such as this – but is pleasantly surprised to see macaroni cheese and green salad on the menu. "That's fantastic," she says, stabbing the menu in approval. "Exactly the kind of good old-fashioned comfort food that vegetarians can never get at restaurants."

Having said that, she doesn't order it, opting instead for two side dishes – leek gratin and lentil and baby gem salad. That may be because she's ordered Jerusalem artichokes, green beans, girolles and poached egg for her first course and wants to leave room for dessert.

I cannot resist starting with the pan-fried foie gras with sweetcorn pancake because I have such fond memories of Rowley Leigh's same dish when he was the head chef of Kensington Place. To follow, I order one of the day's specials: roast pheasant with creamed sprouts and cabbage.

Caroline is pleased with her starter, which actually takes up more room on a dinner plate than my main course, but I'm slightly unsatisfied by mine, mainly because the chef has chosen to add a green pepper sauce. To my mind, the rich, gooey interior of the pan-fried foie gras is sauce enough, and it doesn't need a rival.

Caroline's main is a bit dull and she complains of finding several grains of sand in her leeks, but mine is good. I particularly like the creamed sprouts which, on paper, threatened to be rather disgusting. Instead of completely pulverising the sprouts, the kitchen has left large chunks untouched and the result is a nice combination of textures.

For pudding, we mutually agree on the chocolate and blood-orange mousse, but can't decide between the honeycomb ice-cream or the lemon sorbet, so end up ordering both. The mousse is OK, but there's no discernible orange flavour – just a segment sitting on top and a bit of syrup at the bottom – and the ice-cream doesn't have nearly enough bits of Crunchie in it. Best of the bunch is the lemon sorbet.

The Brompton Bar & Grill has a nice feel to it and the front-of-house manager, Eric Demange, is a 24-carat charmer. But head chef Gary Durrant needs to up the ante if it's to last as long as its predecessor. n

13/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok, 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable, 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

Brompton Bar & Grill 243 Brompton Road, London SW3, tel: 020 7589 8005

Lunch and dinner daily. About £95 for two, including wine (£24 for a bog-standard bottle of Pinot Noir) and service

Second helpings: More modern brasseries

Tike

5 Fenchurch Place, London EC3, tel: 020 7702 9965

Neighbouring Fenchurch Street station, this bright new Turkish/Mediterranean brasserie is handy for travellers and makes a good place for an informal City lunch too

Brasserie Black Door

Biscuit Factory, Stoddard Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, tel: 0191 260 5411

Interesting location – especially if you want to wander around the adjacent art gallery between courses – and the cuisine is delicious too

Raphael

Gascoyne House, Upper Borough Walls, Bath, tel: 01225 480 042

A lively and well-organised brasserie, ideal for pre-theatre in the centre of Bath; it's an intimate sort of place, commended by all who comment on it to Harden's

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee