This new Nicoise and Provencal restaurant, named after French region of Bandol, has a similar emphasis to its South Kensington sister, tucked discreetly away on Hollywood Road, that South West London residential no-man's-land. There's nothing outback, though, about Bandol's cuisine: with a menu designed by Zsolt Ferencz of Scott’s Restaurant, the emphasis here is on fresh, simple ingredients – cooked to utter perfection.
Bandol offers main dishes and a beautifully curated list of sharing plates: all of them light, fresh, and aimed at leaving guests full but not uncomfortable. An amuse bouche of Provencal red onion on brioche and dressed with seasonal olives is enough to trigger the senses, transporting us straight to the sunny climes of Southern France – from whence you're free to peruse the rest of Bandol's delectable starters on offer. Due to the menu's regional emphasis, fish is a prominent feature — from stone bass tartare to delicious grilled sardines marinated in virgin olive oil and dressed in olives, tomatoes, red onions and wild herbs. Each dish seems steeped in tradition, and these crispy, tender little fish certainly set the Bandol bar high.
Next we were presented with a delicately sliced Octopus carpaccio, dressed with crispy fried shallots, apple and onion – unusual, tasty and incredibly fresh. But the sharing menu's piece de resistance was, for us, the black ink risotto topped with squid – aldente rice perfectly complementing the succulent, melt-in-the-mouth squid, with its inky black sauce rich but not cloying – we've no doubt you'll be licking the plate well and truly clean.
The wine list is short but sweet and predominantly French. They recommend the Bandol in both red and white, which you can order by glass, bottle or carafe – channelling the relaxing café culture of the French Riviera. No Bandol inspired menu would be complete without a traditional Bouillabaisse, and this Chelsea french restaurant serves theirs with red mullet, gurnard, tiger prawns and mussels: gently steeped in a rich bisque, this is authentic French haute cuisine, served, of course, with a traditional French rouille.
Elsewhere on the menu, the slow-braised rabbit is an astonishingly succulent dish: it falls effortlessly away from the bone and is served steeped in a light, fragrant gravy, elegantly cooked seasonal provençal vegetables and girolles.
Rounding off a light and balanced menu, the sunny climates of the region serve as the perfect foundation for figs, which play a key part on the dessert menu. The milk fondant is divine and despite the rich earlier courses doesn't affront the palate, as lemon curd oozes out of the creamy posset to mingle with the firmer texture of the figs.
Whilst the restaurant wholly transports you in flavour to the rolling landscapes of the French Riviera, Bandol's interior design channels a more urban vibe: walking past long copper bar you'll see brass lamps hanging from the ceiling, exposed lightbulbs shedding a rich glow on the cuisine, served on zinc tables of two. A centre piece of a large twisted clementine tree stands upright in the middle of the bar referencing Bandol's Provencal roots.
If you're looking for a romantic dinner out, Bandol offers the perfect setting, but you won't feel out of place bringing a dinner party or having a relaxed catch up with friends. With unique food and exceptional service without being stuffy, Bandol's practically perfect in every way.
|What||Bandol, Chelsea restaurant review|
|Where||Bandol, 6 Hollywood Road, SW10 9HU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Earl's Court (underground)|
15 Oct 15 – 01 Nov 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to go to the Bandol website.|