Cabotte – a Burgundian treat near the Guildhall

Cabotte is a very classy French restaurant near the Guildhall and thus only a short walk from the Barbican.  Walk through the Guildhall Yard, turn left into Gresham Street and it is about 20 yards down on the right hand side.  It has a very unassuming and modest entrance, but that belies the attractive décor inside.

Cabotte opened in September last year and is the creation of two master sommeliers: Gearoid Devaney and Xavier Rousset. Gearoid Devaney was born in Belfast and started his wine journey in London in 1997.  He rose to become a head sommelier at only 23 and Master Sommelier in 2009.  Please pause here, and note that there are only 236 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam in 1969.

Xavier Rousset was also a young star in the world of wine and became the youngest Master Sommelier in the world in 2002.  It has been said that the process of testing and preparing for entry into the Court of Master Sommeliers is at least as difficult as a medical degree; you have 3 years to pass all 3 parts of the exam and if you don’t complete within 3 years then you have to start at the very beginning again.

The restaurant interior was designed by Rosendale Design

Cabotte was created with a healthy dollop of passion for the region of Burgundy.  The word cabotte means a humble cottage and I read that cabotte huts are commonly found on vineyards in the region.

Inside, the rustic painted white brick walls nod to a simple village cafe.  The space is not huge but the art-deco style back-lit mirrors expand the space and reflect the warm white lighting which gives the impression of a friendly upmarket bistro; it was easy to share a few words with fellow diners.  My dining partner’s words were “moulin rouge” and that is definitely true of the comfortable burgundy red leather sofas in the bar area looking out onto the street.

The acoustics are a slight issue but only just worth mentioning.  There are few soft furnishings in the restaurant and therefore the noise is not deadened as much as other restaurants I have been to.  I imagine that, depending on the guests, it can get noisy, but even at a busy evening sitting, it didn’t bother us.

The prices are in line with other upmarket restaurants around the city and the clientele are more mature rather than young and rowdy.  Everyone seemed over 30 but varied in age after that and so the atmosphere is more refined but still very friendly.

The wine list, as you would expect, is frighteningly huge; the main wine list is more of a book than a list, with wines up to an eye-watering £5,000 a bottle or more, but the short version is a one-pager.  Lest the top priced wines put you off, wine by the bottle starts at £25 which shouldn’t break the bank.  Many of the ‘short list’, wines are available by the glass.  Even so, unless you know your wines (and Lawrence wasn’t with me tonight) or want to have an educated and educational discussion with the willing and eager sommelier, then much more fun is to have the wise and willing staff choose for you.

Given the proprietors’ expertise is in wines, they have drafted in top chef Edward Boarland to oversee the food element.  Boarland has an impressive cv including The Waterside Inn at Bray, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and the Michelin starred Le Rafael in Paris (facts gleaned from a very positive review by Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard which appeared on the day we ate at Cabotte.)

Fresh bread and a light cheese pastry speciality of Burgundy arrive at the table early and with it a recommended light and smooth Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Ballot-Millot 2011.

The menu showcases indulgent and rich French cuisine.  Some dishes are traditional; the “Oeuf en Meurette” is a Burgundian dish of poached eggs in a red wine sauce, and the beef cheek bourguignon is also a classic from the region.  Other dishes on the menu are familiar and classic with modern twists.  The whole menu is quite small but I would say that it has enough variation to satisfy most tastes.

If there was any concern about the menu it was that the vegetarian options are quite limited but what there is looks tasty and enticing.

 

Mushroom and winter vegetable tarte with parmesan and sage emulsion £8.95
Recommended wine Bourgogne Pinot Blanc, Domaine Henri Gouges 2012

As an indication, the starter I had was a delicious, savoury, hearty meat-like mushroom tarte on a base of the thinnest melt in the mouth puff pastry layer I’ve ever tasted.  My partner kindly shared it with me but I stole one of her delicately flavoured and perfectly executed scallops as payback.  As I looked across the room, another guest polished off their mushroom risotto main with gusto.

Scottish hand-dived scallops with Puy lentils, artichoke and apple £16.50
Recommended wine Marsannay ʹLes Champs Perdrixʹ, Domaine Marc Roy 2010

Starters:

Warm confit veal breast with sandy carrot puree and shiitake £11.00

Scottish hand-dived scallops with Puy lentils, artichoke and apple £16.50

Game terrine served with pickled quince and sourdough £9.50

“Oeuf en Meurette” Poached duck egg, red wine and lardons £9.00

Potato gnocchi with native lobster, pak choi and lime £15.00

Gilthead sea bream & crab tartare, yuzu dressing and shiso £12.00

Mushroom and winter vegetable tarte with parmesan and sage emulsion £8.95

Half dozen Maldon rock oysters £12.50

Selection of charcuterie, spiced chutney and pickles £15.00

Obviously the restaurant knows that they are being reviewed, but I watched the other tables too and the service is consistently exceptional.  Most of the staff were French; our waitress was very efficient and friendly and the sommelier carefully and conversationally recommended the wines for us, personalised to go with each of our dishes, with a different style of glass for every course.  He explained that was just to help us and nothing magical, since we stuck mostly with whites.

My partner chose the pork rump for main.  The pork was flavourful and perfectly prepared and the Burgundy mustard was the icing on the dish for her.

Blythburgh pork rump, Burgundy mustard and William’s pear £18.50
Recommended wine Marsanne ‘Les Contours de Mairlant’, Francois Villard 2014

Both our main courses were delicious, but my Stone Bass was outstanding and the most delectable fish dish I’ve had for a long time.  I sipped the recommended wine before the main arrived and I wasn’t keen; the taste seemed too sharp for my liking especially after the smooth starter wine.  However, as I enjoyed the mild, subtle but buttery flavour of the Stone Bass with its moist and flaky texture, I appreciated the wine much more.  A more experienced wine expert could explain it better but the wine was perfectly suited to the dish for me.

Grilled fillet of Stone Bass, poached Maldon oyster, Crémant velouté £19.50
Recommended wine Pernand-Vergelesses Domaine Chanson 2014

Mains

Pan fried Scottish cod with a mussel and parsley sauce £19.50

Grilled fillet of Stone Bass, poached Maldon oyster, Crémant velouté £19.50

Beef cheek bourguignon en cocotte, savoy cabbage, smoked free range bacon £19.00

Wild Mushroom risotto with ceps and artichoke £16.00

Blythburgh pork rump, Burgundy mustard and William’s pear £18.50

Roasted milk fed veal chop, braised shallot, smokey bacon sauce £32.00

Selection of free range Blythburgh pork to share £45.00
Roasted chop and rump, braised cheek, crackling and leek gratin

Purée de pomme de terre £4.00
Bitter leaf, soft herb and vinaigrette £4.00
Leek gratin with Comté £4.00
Garlic green beans £4.00

Bitter leaf, soft herb and vinaigrette £4.00 and Garlic green beans £4.00

For dessert, I choose a Pecan cake special which wasn’t on the regular menu.  I’m not a great fan of pecan pie because it is too nutty for me, but the (several) chocolate brownie shaped dark Madeira cake slices with only shavings of embedded pecans and soft cream cheese blobs was gorgeous.

Pecan cake (special not on the menu)
Recommended wine Pedro Ximenez sherry

My partner chose the chocolate crèmeux which was a delicious heap of creamy chocolate mouse generously covered with more chocolate shavings and fruit.  Something that could have been neatly prepared and presented in a pot was improved exponentially by being left as an honest and plentiful mound on a plate.

“La Fôret du Morvan” £6.00
Recommended wine Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos ‘Dorgó Vineyard’, Disznókő, Hungary 2008

Desserts

Caramelised pineapple with coconut and juniper, lime and yoghurt mousse £6.00

Apple Tarte Tatin with Cornish clotted cream £14.00
Served for two to share

“La Fôret du Morvan” £6.00
Chocolate crèmeux with trio of citrus

Fallen fruit Clafoutis with pecan and pear £6.00

Cheese
3 for £9.50 / 5 for £13.50
A selection from Androuet

Overall, this restaurant has to be highly recommended, and certainly a must for wine-lovers.  Expert wine sites list Cabotte as the home of the best Burgundy wine list in London.  For me, it was an education in how the choice of wine with the dish is a skill which I’ll never need to learn because, thankfully, others on my doorstep are there to do it for me!

Cabotte,

48 Gresham Street,
EC2V 7AY

Tel: 0207 600 1616

Note that it’s not open at weekends.

Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner.
Cabotte also has two Private Dining Rooms available for exclusive hire for groups (6-40 people). Various menus are available for sit-down, canape parties or standing tasting events.

Helen Hudson