A dinner invitation past 7pm, let alone 8pm, would often make me er in hesitancy; the idea of a quiet night in on the sofa bingeing on Netflix often the much more appealing option, particularly during the colder months. Or perhaps it’s just a sign of age, or rather maturity, as I would prefer to call it. Special exceptions are made however, such as on this occasion, where an invitation was extended to an intimate dinner at Bagatelle London, located in the luxurious and upscale Mayfair district. Bagatelle was first launched in 2008 in New York, a project envisioned by two French friends, Aymeric Clemente and Rémi Laba, who dreamt of creating a place combining aesthetics, refinement and conviviality, while symbolizing the codes of French joie de vivre. The Bagatelle Group currently has 15 establishments spread across 12 countries, and continues to grow.
The kitchen in Mayfair is headed by Executive Chef François-Laurent Apachié who serves a menu created by Corporate Chef Rocco Seminara, inspired by flavours of the French Riviera.
Arriving ahead of time as always, feeling slightly modest in my attire as I approached the reception behind two girls in sparkly mini dresses, I was led down to the private lounge where I enjoyed an aperitif before the arrival of the other guests. Combining traditions and classics of French gastronomy with scents of the Mediterranean, we were treated to a feast which was aesthetically pleasing as well as tantalizing to the tastebuds. I particularly enjoyed my main for which I had opted for the John Dory cooked meuniere style with spinach shoots and caviar sauce. The two signature dishes which were prepared table-side were also crowd-pleasers; a whole free-range chicken with tarragon in a salt crust with aromatic herbs, and a whole locally-caught fish baked in lemon leaves.
Ending the evening on a high, it was then Head Pastry Chef, Manon Santini’s turn to shine with her impressive dessert creations. Amongst them was the Jivara chocolate pizzetta topped with Piémont hazelnuts, her take on a popular Italian classic which won the World Champion of Pizza Dessert in 2019.
By the end of the night, or start of the day, as it was past midnight when I eventually bid adieu, the restaurant upstairs had turned into more of a dancefloor, from what I heard. I was too distracted trying to navigate my way towards my Uber driver, but would certainly be tempted to return for a different kind of experience on another visit, mini dress and dancing shoes at the ready.
- I was invited to the press dinner at Bagatelle London – views and photos are my own