This Brewer Street stalwart headed up by Ed Baines is the type of place you’d revisit time and again
While there are many ‘bistros’ up and down the UK championing authenticity, there are few that really compare with what you’ll find in France. Many try too hard, are too pricey or are simply too diluted by their ‘concept’ to be bone fide. Thankfully, none of these apply with Randall & Aubin.
Familiar, convivial and serving up superb Anglo-French seafood and rotisserie at very fair prices, it’s the kind of place you’ll go back to, frequently. The petite Victorian dining room with its original cream-tiled walls, Parisian chandeliers and open kitchen dates back to 1911, when it served as a butcher’s shop to the city’s elite. Co-founders Jamie Poulton (a former broker) and chef Ed Baines are the guys behind it, and have carved its place on the vibrant Soho scene over 21 years with an ethos of informal dining that showcases quality ingredients with a nod to tradition.
We visit late afternoon on a bank holiday Monday. The rest of town is quiet, but here there’s already a queue curving out of the door for a table. The concertina windows that run the length of the dining room are open wide carrying the breeze and the sound of chatter. At-ease locals enjoying jovial catch-ups and cosy third dates sit side by side with the odd tourist at the marble-topped communal tables.
The long-standing menu will find the sweet spot of every palate.
The scent of bistro classics hangs in the air: oysters, steaming bowls of garlicky moules and steak frites with a soupçon of mustard. Crisp crab cakes are served with zingy lime mayo, while silken white-onion soup with tarragon is a light way to start. The assiette of mixed seafood features battered skate wing, grilled cod and tuna with a mussel cream sauce and chive-dressed new potatoes. Each fish sings with flavour. Chicken comes smothered with gutsy herbs, and is best paired with Emmental-topped gratin Dauphinoise. For dessert, decadent and dark chocolate cake comes with milk ice cream.
You can only book for weekday lunches, but there’s something atmospheric about sipping champagne and watching the revelry of other diners as you wait. And good news for our friends in the North: a Manchester branch has just opened, bringing the same excellent menu to Bridge Street. BG. 020 7287 4447, randallandaubin.com