In the 1935 Pagnol comedy Cigalon, the eponymous chef is so in love with his own rarefied cuisine that he refuses to cook for mere customers. Pascal Aussignac’s newest arrival may lack its namesake’s hilarious pretension, but diners will feel just as lucky as the fictional Cigalon’s did as they tuck into their meals.
Located on Chancery Lane in the heart of London, Cigalon nonetheless situates itself firmly in the fishy, citrus- and olive oil-rich traditions of traditional Provençal cooking. As a region that shares a long border with Italy, pasta is no stranger to Provence either; accordingly, a recent menu accompanied beef onglet with gnocchi and beef cheek daube (a traditional stew of braised beef and vegetables).
Naturally, the menu’s shot through with the herbal soupe au pistou and salade niçoise so cherished by visitors to the South of France, but also a garlicky aïoli of poached salt cod served with vegetable broth.
In addition to its extensive a la carte menu, Cigalon also offers a reasonably priced set menu that recently included treats like roasted coley with salsify and a rich red wine sauce and smoked mackerel rilettes.
The interior provides an airy, pastel-and-cream-hued home for the dining, with touches of woven reeds, an open kitchen and a relaxed veranda-like feel that evokes a Cannes restaurant with the maquis at its back and the Mediterranean at its front. (Cigalon even enhances the atmosphere by piping in the sound of cicadas near the entrance.)
Even though it only opened a short time ago, Cigalon has already won 2 AA rosettes; its wine list and cocktails (including the all-too-rarely-seen Sazerac) won it Best Newcomer 2011 at the Harpers Drinking Out Excellence Awards.
Pascal Aussignac’s roster of fine venues has grown to include Cellar Gascon, romantic bistro Comptoir Gascon and Chelsea’s Le Cercle.
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