Blandford Comptoir joins the series of successful bar and restaurant creations of Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset, including 28°-50° and Cabotte. Fiona Beckett reviews his London wine bar cum Italian bistro, in the chic surrounds of Marylebone village.
Blandford Comptoir Marylebone, London
The UK hasn’t succumbed to the cult of the super-sommelier but if it had, Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset would lead the charge. From the time he spent under chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, through his early adoption of new Nordic cuisine at Texture to revitalising the wine-bar genre with the stylish 28°-50° chain, he’s been ahead of the game. He’s also just opened a new Burgundy-themed restaurant in the City called Cabotte.
Blandford Comptoir is a wine bar in Marylebone village. I say wine bar but its a bit more than that: more of a modern bistro with a very good wine list and a bar with – hallelujah! – comfortable stools, which makes sitting there a pleasure rather than a penance.
The Italian-influenced menu offers the option of small and bigger-sized plates. We went largely for small (but not ungenerous) ones, which I suggest you order in tranches. Some dishes such as the Italian summer truffle risotto (£8) and an umami-rich dish of quail with truffle boudin (£7) are clearly designed to show off the Burgundy list.
Others such as hake with artichoke barigoule (£15) could have fought the wines but fortunately Rousset was at hand to suggest a match: a crisp 2015 Roter Veltliner from Weingut Eichinger. The standout dishes were Sicilian red prawns and an octopus dish so tender it must have been subjected to some mysterious molecular treatment.
The wines by the glass are part of a model wine list pitched at every price point to encourage you to experiment. The house Champagne, Pierre Moncuit’s impeccable Blanc de Blancs is a very reasonable £10 a glass. Bottles are imaginatively priced in tiers starting with six wines at £23, nine at £28, then upwards through £35, £42, £49 and £60.
There’s a mouthwatering list of ‘older and wiser’ wines including, at the time of writing, Patrick Jasmin’s Côte-Rôtie 2005 for £79 but that will almost certainly change from week to week.
The ‘celebrity’ guest list (from Rousset’s mentor Gerard Basset OBE MW MS on the day I visited) isn’t quite as good a bargain. I’m also not convinced by the grape variety-inspired cocktail list which is ingenious but doesn’t quite come off. The ‘Riesling’ (an elderflowery G & T with St-Germain) was more akin to Sauvignon Blanc. Much better to drink the real thing. And the service is a bit ‘French’, leaving us standing for few minutes in the entrance until they deigned to notice us.
With a wine list of gems like this, I doubt that will deter many. The problem will be getting a table. Your best bet would be to swing by on your own for a late lunch and perch on one of those well-padded stools.
- Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter Magazine here
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