It’s refreshing to meet a chef and restaurateur who don’t believe they need to fall in line with food fashions yet deliver wonderful, hugely enjoyable food, sensitively balanced with an exceptional and unusual wine list. At Gastronhome on Lavender Hill, Damien Fremont, chef/co-owner and Christopher Nespoux sommelier/co-owner model their modest, homely restaurant on the ethos of legendary Lyon 3 Michelin chef Paul Bocuse and don’t take any shortcuts. The commitment to detail and to service is superb and it is gloriously French. Where else would you find a garlic snail croquette as an amuse?
Though subtle, miso aubergine partnered with smoked aubergine caviar and puree suggests a nod to Japan and Morocco.
Fish is superbly handled. Slow poached John Dory is delicately accented with an ethereal lemon verbena foam and rather acidic pickled sea lettuce. I adore the Silveni Cellar Reserve 2014 Marlborough New Zealand, a superb wine match and am tempted to purchase a bottle as it is available for off-sales.
A homage to mackerel is painterly, light and refreshing: the fish is marinated in soy and merely flamed and accompanied by pressed beetroot and turnip and watermelon with lime. Brilliant with a very special Viognier. Lamb is more traditional, a cutlet cooked to perfection with crisp skin, served with coco beans from Brittany, pea puree and a double butter, rich sauce.
Most spectacular of all is millefeuille (puff pastry is labour intensively made in-house and melts in the mouth) with almond cream, poached apricots and a fine apricot sorbet served with a vintage Limoux. It’s a perfect combination. What charms me most is the sheer professionalism, dedication and pride in the tiny – 20 seater – dining room. A great jazz play list with plenty of Miles Davis and Oscar Peterson helps too. It feels like a proper old-fashioned treat.
59 Lavender Hill, SW11 5QN 0203 417 5639 www.gastronhome.co.uk