Usually when I go to the theatre in the evening I kill the time before the start of a show by working longer hours, but last week I enjoyed a much nicer past-time when I was invited to Aubaine's launch of their delicious new Summer en Provence set menu. The event was held at their gorgeous Marylebone restaurant (one of nine locations in London) and was the perfect pre-theatre treat.
We were welcomed onto a special level of the Marylebone restaurant which had a greenhouse feel and look to it; beautiful and open, with the rare London sunshine streaming through the roof window panes. Combined with the vases of lavender scenting the air, it made us really feel like we were in the Provence area in France and I even wore my sunglasses indoors, it was that summery.
The first table that drew us in was the cocktail making station, where the mixologist made personal cocktails on the spot. I picked a lavender syrup (of course) topped up with vodka, apple juice, and fresh kiwis and strawberries. It was divine and the perfect refreshing drink for summer. We might still have been in London, but slowly but surely we felt ourselves being transported to the southeast of France.
We were also treated to some absolutely gorgeous canapés that were almost too beautiful to eat (but of course that didn't stop us from trying all three of them!). They were mini versions of some of the star dishes on the Summer en Provence menu: Cod Brandade, Spring Leaves and Lemon Oil; La Faisselle, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil Cress & Pansies; and Provençale Pistou With Bayonne Ham. The detail, colour and flavour palette were incredible and really showed the level of attention and artistic flair that Aubaine puts into their dishes.
The final treat of our pre-theatre evening were beautifully delicate mini-versions of Aubaine's desserts on the Summer en Provence menu: Le Frasier (Strawberries, Crème Pâtissière & Extra Virgin Oil); Menton Lemon Tart; and Tart Tropézienne (filled with either an Orange Blossom or a Pistachio Creme Pat). Before tucking into the sweet delights, we spoke at length to the pastry chef present at the launch about each of the three desserts, their origins and what they meant to them. This made eventually tasting them even more special.
We tried all three (though only a small bite of the Tart Tropézienne which even in mini-version was quite large) and with each taste I thought that that dessert was my favourite... until I tried the next one. If forced to pick, I'd choose Le Frasier though, which was the most delicate sponge I've ever tasted and melted in my mouth. I was thrilled when I was chatting to one of the team to discover they're soon to open a patisserie in Covent Garden, as I'd love to buy some of these pastries before my next West End show for an indulgent interval snack.
Thanks very much to the Aubaine team for the invite to the Summer en Provence launch and what a fitting way of celebrating the new menu. Having had a chance to sample mini versions of the dishes I'm absolutely sold and will definitely try to pop by one of the nine London locations (Broadgate Circle, Brompton Cross, Hyde Park, Kensington, Marylebone, Mayfair, Regent Street, Selfridges and Wimbledon) this summer to enjoy the full menu.
The Summer en Provence set menu is just £15.50 for two courses or £19.50 for three, a very good deal for the high quality of French dining it offers. However, it's only available until 30 August 2016 so make sure you pop by your nearest restaurant before then for a taste of southeast France. After all, you don't have to leave London to feel like you've gone on a summer holiday!