Successful London brand Aubaine is bringing its relaxed, informal approach and enticing menus north to Manchester. For their first venture outside the capital, Aubaine have chosen to launch two restaurants within Selfridges: Le Restaurant, and Le Cafe. Promising fine French dining without the formality, the Aubaine experience takes you from breakfast croissants right through to early evening cocktails.
Le Restaurant is set on the second floor of the store, and features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Exchange Square. The menus should certainly be enough to tempt weary shoppers away from the designer labels, and there’s a comfortable lounge area, so you can take the weight off your feet and start to unwind before sitting down to eat.
The food on offer covers a wide range of satisfying dishes, some familiar, others more adventurous. Different French regional traditions are well-represented. The common thread is that every dish delivers a combination of hearty flavours, carefully-cooked with meticulously-sourced ingredients.
Start with a simple butternut squash soup, sprinkled with parmesan and drizzled with truffle oil, or push the boat out with a salad of lobster, quinoa, orange and black olives. If the main course simply has to be steak frites, you can choose from tender fillet or succulent 35-day matured rib-eye. If you fancy something different, try free-range pigs’ cheeks with spring greens and Dijon mustard – or for a lighter choice, scallops with caramelised endives, cauliflower and pomegranate.
A particular passion for Aubaine is home-baked bread. Known for their firm belief that “man cannot live by bread alone, but, on the other hand, wouldn’t want to live without it”, Aubaine bake bread for every taste. The selection includes loaves made with chocolate, cheeses, nuts and fruit.
Desserts on offer include mouth-watering patisseries and refreshing sorbets.
Starters cost from £6.95, and main courses range from £10.95 to £23.50.
Serving a menu of lighter meals and snacks with a focus on fresh, simple dishes, Le Café will offer a very different but equally tempting experience. Tucked away on the lower ground floor, the Art Deco-inspired interior could be enough to transport you to1920s Paris – at least for the time it takes to eat a spiced scrambled egg croissant.
I’d say Aubaine looks a good bet as a place to recharge during or after a hard day’s shopping, or for early evening drinks after a tough day at the office. And if you’re looking for a long, leisurely lunch, it’s definitely got to be worth heading over to Exchange Square. With its relaxed ambience, contemporary elegance, and fine food and wine, Le Restaurant could prove to be the perfect chill-out zone.