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Cafe Luc (CLOSED)

Restaurants, French Marylebone

Time Out says

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At the top end of Marylebone High Street, there’s a new brasserie. Opened by Belgian restaurateur Luc van Oostende with his daughter Julie, it is a highly polished venue whose look speaks of people who know what they’re doing. Quelle surprise, then, that the Van Oostendes run a similar operation in Ghent – the Café Theatre in the Royal Opera.

Sunny yellow blown glass, looking like a riot of children’s party balloons, hang over the bar; there are leather banquettes the colour of midnight, modernised bentwood chairs and – those classic brasserie fixtures – mirrors everywhere. It is, no doubt, a gorgeous place – a room for people-watching, and for being watched.

It’s also very brasserie de luxe, and the prices certainly reflect the type of clientele that burn tracks (and money) along this particular high street.

The menu is French-leaning but not entirely conventional. There are enough brasserie classics to keep diners feeling cosy (a pair of suits, gazing at the menu outside the restaurant, noted, ‘there’s steak tartare – that’ll do!’), but with some deviations by way of steamed sea bass with green mango, papaya and quinoa; or a risotto spiked with shiitake mushrooms.

The crab meat in our tian of Cornish crab had strands that were sweet and tender, laced with dill; we could have done without the thick puck of gluey cream cheese on top though, and the messy streaks of tomato sauce and too-grassy avocado purée were superfluous at best.

Chicken suprême (the breast, with the wing left on) with black trompettes and pappardelle did not come with the distinctive trumpet-shaped mushrooms, but bog-standard caps; the al dente pasta, however, we could have eaten an entire bowl of and called it a day.

An otherwise adequate meal was soured by the desserts. When we bit into innocent-looking grapes in a bowl of ‘crème caramel with marinated raisins’, we nearly spat them out – they had been so heavily soaked in alcohol they were unpalatable. Roasted pineapple was succulent, however coconut sorbet had but a whisper of the tropics and there was no sign of the advertised pistachio.

The wine list, dominated by French bottles, offers little below £20, but is redeemed by interesting wines by the glass. But then if you’re already blasé about paying £17.20 for a chicken dish (albeit an organic chook with a Champagne sauce) or £7.30 for a wodge of pineapple and tiny scoop of sorbet, you might not be too concerned about the high cost of the wine bill.

For quality that matches the cost you might be better off strolling over to Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, which has similar aspirations, but is a brasserie de luxe of established reputation.



Address: 50 Marylebone High St
Transport: Tube: Baker St or Regent's Park tube
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