Q: You are invited to a party where there is posh French food. It’s in London, two hours away, in the day time. On Saturday. You have a baby and a toddler and have to take the train and be back in time for swimming at 2pm. Is it fun?
A: Of course. It’s Aubaine.
I have always loved French food. I used to play a game (I use the word loosely) with people where I asked what three things they would exist on for life if they could choose. Mine were proper baguette, smoked salmon and champagne. Now, I think they are proper baguette, champagne and soft play.
Well, Aubaine has all three. It is a chain of ‘all day dining’ French restaurants which, says its website, offers an air of ‘relaxed sophistication and an aura of chic’ and evolved to ‘find the perfect French bread in London’. I think they succeeded.
We emerge from Baker Street underground to the frenzy that is central London on a Saturday. “But where are the cakes, Mummy?” asks NG. I promised her cake on the train. She is not one to forget.
“We’ll get some when we get to the party,” I promise. “This is Baker Street. We won’t find cake here.” Both NW and NG eye me suspiciously at this claim, but I don’t give anyone the chance to dispute this point. I used to work around here: there really is nowhere to eat decent bakes on Baker Street. Irony, hey?
After a short buggy walk, we arrive and within minutes of entering, are greeted by smiling, shiny, aproned staff. One offers to help NW take the buggy upstairs; the other personally shows NG and me where the loo is so we can fail again at potty training. Once installed in the heaven that is the ‘function room’ (industrial feel to the ceiling, which NC enjoys gazing up at whilst feeding), I am offered coffee and a comfortable seat. NG makes a beeline for the soft play area and is presented with two drinks: water and fresh orange juice. Ooh la la. Aubaine translates as ‘godsend’. It really is.
The last time the Duchess of Cambridge was in France, she was papped topless. She’d have been safe here. Aubaine feels very discreet, yet oh, so welcoming. A wonderful hour elapses in which NG slides down the slide over and over and over again BY HERSELF and NW forgets about Fantasy Football long enough to enjoy avocado toast.
There are now 10 Aubaine restaurants across London. We patronised the Marylebone branch – three floors of delicious, grown-up, playful dining. The table decoration was exquisite and everything was thought of – from high chairs already installed where one year olds were placed, to champagne refills that just ‘appeared’.
We didn’t want to go home. But we had to. And when we left the serene greys of the restaurant for the outside drizzle, with pain au chocolat lining all our tummies, even dreary Baker Street seemed a bit more ‘boulangerie’.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Aubaine for this review.
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KEY TO CHARACTERS
Characters are abbreviated as follows:
NW – not William (husband and father)
NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)
NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and four month old)
NL – not Lupo (a Labrador)