Accomplished cooking, quite tedious
In 2012 Head Chef Massimiliano Blasone left the renowned Apsleys to join Cassis Bistro, reviving this South Kensington restaurant with an Italian branded flair and finesse. During the Blasone-Era the blogeratti came, judged, and left happy, and their reams of backdated pictures and gushing reviews keep the legacy buoyant. A year later and Blasone has left to conquer new ground, and so this is perhaps a morning-after review. Now that the party has ended, has the dancing stopped and do previous reviews still hold true?
The interior of Cassis is clinically correct; stone hued walls, interchangeable artwork and seemingly meaningless French words etched onto glass dividers – we hope the menu holds more soul than the décor. A pre-starter of green and black olive tapenade is roughly chopped and delicious spread on fried bread crisps, whilst slices of spongy tomato focaccia soak up olive oil beautifully. The cocktail list has a number of interesting items including fruity pear, lychee and cherry cocktails (sufficiently strong).
The feel of the Med is carried through into the starters with a substantial portion of milky burrata – sable-soft, set on salad leaves and coiled with lightly charred courgette ribbon. The veal carpaccio is another big plate, strewn with shaved parmesan and truffle. Although decent, the reality falls short of the expectation.
Mains nurse their own transgressions; a tail of red mullet, whilst delicate in taste and texture itself, is overpowered by an intense lobster sauce covering both the fish and basil gnocchi. Although poached seabass offers more balance its main taste input is from a nondescript tomato sauce.
Desserts are leagues ahead of their savoury counterparts; strawberry semi freddo is tart, moreish and offset with a soothing milk ice cream, whilst crisp Sicilian cannoli are full of ricotta, pistachio and kumquat, served with an understated rice ice cream and crushed meringue biscuit.
The majority of the food at Cassis is much like its décor – unassuming, apathetic and lacklustre. Although there is nothing glaringly criminal about the offerings, I expect much more for the price and apparent reputation, and leave feeling bored. Considering we are one of four occupied tables, it bodes ill that service is less than perfect. Average price per person is £55, average chance of return is 0%.
Tube: South Kensingtonby