Younger sibling of Michelin-starred Club Gascon, Le Cercle hasn’t fallen far from the tree – it may be across town in Chelsea, but chef Pascal Aussignac’s trademark of reinventing traditional French cuisine works just as well in the intimate environs of a lounge as it does in his flagship restaurant in Smithfield.
Describing itself as ‘A stylish space to indulge in fine cocktails and delicious food’, Le Cercle’s door is well hidden and shrouded by brick town houses, and diners descend into a downstairs room with the lights up just high enough, imbuing it with the sub rosa feel of a speakeasy. Airy, cream-coloured floor-to-ceiling draperies surround the tables; Le Cercle feels like the perfect place for a lunch away with the spouse (or perhaps the maître/maîtresse).
This being a hybrid of restaurant and lounge, heavy, resolute dishes would seem as welcome as a lamb shank dropped into a glass of champagne. The food tends toward lightness, and is served in modest portions unlikely to deter anyone from a bit of vigorous exercise after supping. Many of Aussignac’s favourite ingredients are on display here as well, though: on a recent menu, the sweetness of roast foie gras was offset by the tart and pungent flavours of rhubarb, salsify and horseradish, and critics are awed by his nose-to-tail pork selection that puts the kitchen’s full range and breadth on full display for lucky customers.
In addition to a full dinner menu, Le Cercle also features a smaller lounge menu for those less peckish. The wine list is as extensive as one might expect, and the restaurant occasionally even holds special dinners themed around individual regions, recently, Loire Valley wines and biodynamic producers from Roussilon.
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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Awards & accolades
The AA culinary accolade
Two AA rosettes