Category: Brasserie (£££+)
I had been to Bistro Cassis once before, around Christmas time last year, and I didn’t like it very much at all. The dining room was freezing cold and didn’t feel welcoming and I found the food to be overpriced and mediocre. I gave Bistro Cassis the benefit of the doubt and didn’t write a review at this stage (I thought maybe the head chef was on Christmas leave) and returned for another meal in August 2013 with slightly better outcome.
One thing that was not Bistro Cassis‘ fault but was due to its location about 5 minutes walk from Harrods down Brompton Road, definitely impacted negatively on my appetite: while we were sitting in the restaurant on a table at the open window facing the street, fancy sport cars would cruise past – each of them worth more than I will ever earn in my life put together. They all had Arab number plates – apparently flown in to London by rich oil sheiks for the summer. Sorry, but that kind of extravagance and waste of money makes me sick!
This was not a good start to the evening but nothing an excellent meal would not have rectified. As compared to my first visit I certainly enjoyed the food much more but nevertheless I can’t say I was overly impressed by Bistro Cassis and found it far too pricey for what was offered. I felt I was paying for the location (the Harrods factor) rather than for what the food was actually worth and I didn’t like this very much.
The menu was Italian (not as described on the website Provençal). The chef sent Saffron Arancini (fried risotto balls) as an Amuse Bouche, which I desperately wanted to like (you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?) but didn’t. They were just very boring and an unfortunate case of wasted calories.
Far better was the Squid Ink Risotto (18) we shared between the two of us and I appreciated that they volunteered to serve one risotto portion on two plates. It was a perfectly nice risotto. The rice was creamy and al dente and tasted lemony and fresh in lovely contrast with the sweet and tender langoustine. For me, the pesto al pomodoro was superfluous and destroyed the harmony of the other ingredients.
We went with two fish dishes for the main. Both, the sea bass and the grilled sole, were expertly cooked, I just didn’t find either dish very exciting. The Sea Bass (23) was prepared “acqua pazza” – poached in a tomato-herb broth. It lacked any kind of oomph and I didn’t get the dill on top at all which for me is not a Mediterranean ingredient (I may be too close-minded here of course). While I couldn’t fault the preparation of the Grilled Sole (24), the Sicilian caponata it came with was just dull. I had beautiful caponata (rustic to high-end) on my trip to Sicily last year so I know what I am talking about!
It wasn’t the most exciting food I ever had, but at the same time it wasn’t a bad meal at all, and I struggle to recommend this restaurant mainly because of the value for money ratio. If you don’t care how much money you spend, you will probably have an enjoyable meal at Bistro Cassis. If you want to be wowed when you pay £24 for a main, then I’d go somewhere else. (I definitely had better modern Italian at Zucca and Tinello, which are both cheaper too).
- Food: 6.5/10
- Service: 7/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Value for Money: 5/10
- Chances of Returning: 5%
- Verdict: Decent but expensive modern Italian lacking the wow factor.
SW3 2BB Tel: 020 7581 1101