Until recently, Victoria was quite seriously lacking an authentic Parisian-styled bistro serving all-day gallic classics in elegant, Art Nouveau-era surroundings.
And also, any restaurants more generally.
Conveniently solving both problems in one fell swoop is Chez Antoinette, a relaxed and welcoming little café-restaurant in a secluded quarter right by St. James’s Park station.
Although housed in a modern build, the interiors are a vintage daydream – tiled floors, lacy café curtains and marble-topped tables for two. Upstairs on the mezzanine level are larger group tables, while on the ground floor, light spills in from the double-height windows onto a bakery display and tables for two over breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch.
The menu is quintessentially French, loaded with baked cheeses to share, charcuterie and foie gras. For breakfast, there’s homemade brioche and eggs royale; and for lunch, an array of tartines inspired by ‘Antoinette’ herself, co-owner Amelia’s grandmother. Toppings range from goat’s cheese and honey to duck rillettes or smoked salmon, and there’s a long line of cakes and patisserie to finish off (lemon tart, mille feuille and Paris Brest).
On weekdays, you can visit Chez Antoinette for classic, belt-loosening French cooking in the evenings, too. There’s bavette steak and coq au vin; Croque Messieurs and eggs en meurette (poached in red wine; delicious). But there’s the chance to scope out the less familiar, too; fish quenelles are an unusual comfort dish, with soft oval-shaped cakes of hake, potato and cream drenched in a crayfish-suffused Nantua sauce.
Naturally, there’s an extensive list of carefully picked, exclusively French wines to go with it, as well as Belgian beers and classic cocktails.
NOTE: Chez Antoinette is open weekdays for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus brunch and lunch on weekends. You can find out more, and book a table, HERE.
Chez Antoinette | 22 Palmer Street, SW1H 0PH
Like French steak? Head to L’Entrecote