PUBLISHED: 17:09 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 20 February 2013
Let's do lunch with... the legendary chef Albert Roux at his new brasserie at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow's Terminal 5. Tessa Harris was lucky enough to be his guest.
What was the occasion?
When you're invited by a living gastronomic legend to review his new brasserie just 20 minutes away from Ascot, how can you refuse? The master may be in his late sixties now but he still retains his Gallic charm and had me blushing within five minutes of our meeting!
The Brasserie Roux is actually inside the uber sophistacted 5-star Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow's Terminal 5. It's a bit tricky to find your way around the maze of slip roads and the nightmare is, of course, that you end up on a plane to Kazakstan, but once you're there - the journey time is only 20 minutes from Sunningdale - it is a real experience.
As for the décor?
Aubergine walls, black leather-clad benches, tall mirrors, fabulous lighting and a giant water feature, all work together to make M.Roux's latest creation a relaxing and inviting, yet ultra-chic space.
Tell us about the menu.
It's fair to say that the Roux brothers - Michel (of The Waterside Inn at Bray) and Albert - have had more influence on cuisine in England over the past 40 years than any other chefs. So the menu is classic brasserie fare, which is like saying it's classic Roux. Along with Head Chef Jonathon Predy, Albert has created a typically French menu that delivers a range of indulgent yet comfortingly familiar dishes for all tastes.
Starters range from duck foie gras with honey roasted fig, to warm leek salad with poached egg, while mains on offer include veal escalope with anchovies and capers, sautéed scallops with cider butter sauce or hearty monkfish cassoulet.
What did you both choose?
My starter was tartare of smoked organic salmon with horseradish sauce, £10.50. The texture made an interesting change and the sauce complemented the fish perfectly. I followed this with free range chicken with Puy lentils, in a sizzling skillet, at £14.50 for a breast or £10.50 for a leg. This was informal eating at its best - no outlandish food combinations, just real, uncompromising French cuisine at its best.
The master chose a Scottish rib eye steak, rare of course, with home made chips and béarnaise sauce.
The Trolley Selection offers a different dish each day such as rolled saddle of lamb stuffed with spinach and mushroom, and for diners in a rush to catch a flight, or people simply in a hurry there's even 'Roux Express' menu that serves four selected dishes simultaneously within just 20 minutes of ordering for £19.50, or your money back.
What did we drink?
Albert chooses the wines personally and recommends which wine suits each dish. These are listed at 'Wines of the Moment' on the menu. So, I sipped on a La Soula Blanc 2004 at £9.50 a glass.
Were we tempted by the desserts?
How could I refuse? It was the best tarte tatin I have ever tasted, but then I could also have been easily persuaded to try the chocolate crème brulée or the rum baba - now that's something you don't see on menus very often these days.
What was the service like throughout the meal?
Suave restaurant manager Thierry de Magneval, who has in the past worked with Michel Roux Jr. at Le Gavroche, was so in tune with his customers that he even guessed what my companions and I wanted for dessert.
The acid test: would you recommend it to your friends?
Absolutely! It's the real deal: French brasserie food at its finest. It may be at an airport but it feels more like a destination restaurant. I can't wait to try their Sunday lunch.
London Heathrow, Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, TW6 2GD
Tel: 020 8757 5029