Mon–Fri midday–3pm and 6pm–11pm, Sat midday–4pm and 6pm–11pm, Sunday midday–4pm and 6pm–10pm
O: There was some debate at West London Living Towers about whether Bandol constitutes a bar or a restaurant. Alex, quite reasonably, argued restaurant on the grounds that there’s a full kitchen and the bulk of the floor-space was filled with tables and chairs set for supper. I however disagree. Yes, the food is a pretty big event at Bandol, but so is the wine. Arguably the main event. Bandol itself is a small wine-producing region in Provence and the wine-list here is second to none. Also, the bar/restaurant Bandol is in very much the same vein as its neighbour Brinkley’s, which again, whilst serving impeccable food, just feels like a bar. So there you have it. I’d call
Bandol a bar, because to me, it feels like a bar. Logic right there.
A: In their own words, Bandol is the ‘second restaurant’ from the founders of South Kensington’s Margaux—which is similarly very much a restaurant!—and mirrors its sister’s ‘refined food and wine in a relaxed environment’ vibe (although, to be fair, the website address is ‘barbandol’, so visiting it resolved nothing!). While, as Olivia mentions, the name stems from a small commune in France, the food is more broadly inspired by Nicoise and Provencale recipes of the surrounding region, and focuses on fresh, simple ingredients and skilful preparation.
O: The interior is contemporary yet understated. Think scrubbed steel surfaces, moody lighting and large ceiling windows. Organic, earthy tones and textures are juxtaposed with sharp lines and precision-cut materials. Young oak floors, unglazed ceramics, wicker chairs and taupe walls contrast with copper, steel and glass. Plants are dotted about whilst the dining area is dominated by a large spot-lit indoor olive tree. Ivy even winds up the far wall on a sort of square indoor trellis.
A: The weeknight we visited wasn’t the busiest, but there were several other tables of customers (locals?) dressed in the sort of taste that caresses rather than yells.
O: We began with a selection of small plates to share—a kingly spread of colour and flavour. The octopus carpaccio was unsurpassed. Except, in Alex’s opinion, it was. By the yellowtail carpaccio. Both were pretty incredible to be honest. We also had the Petite Friture de Poisson—a selection of fried prawns, whitebait, baby squid and aioli. All good, except I found the whitebait rather too fishy. Alongside all this we had the Burrata DOP, a wonderfully gooey and fresh burrata served with heirloom tomatoes.
I followed this spread up with the angus fillet steak, blue and exquisitely tender. Second only to wagyu in the tenderness stakes, I could happily eat this for every meal until I die.
A: Both carpaccios were something of a revelation; the octopus was a gorgeous visual display, wafer-thin slices arranged like a kaleidoscope on the plate, delicate flavours issuing out from them like smoke. But it was the yellowtail—which I’ve otherwise only had as sushi—that really courted my tastebuds, with its tart vinaigrette and tiny bursts of pomegranate complementing the richer flavour of the fish.
The duck leg confit followed as my main, and left me in no doubt as to the kitchen’s panache with their ingredients. Always a favourite of mine, the lentils and figs worked together to give earthy anchoring and fruity uplift to the duck itself, which was just the right balance of unctuous flesh and crispy skin. Creamed spinach on the side was as good as you’d find anywhere, and quickly became a new favourite of Olivia’s!
O: I was so blown away by the 2009 Pomerol, Chateau L’Enclos, I’ve been trying to track it down ever since. I’ve even considered relocating to Bordeaux just to live in sniffing distance of its vineyard. Sadly, neither Waitrose, M&S, Tesco or Sainsbury’s stock Pomerol at all, and Nicolas only had one measly bottle, which was not Chateau L’Enclos. So taken was I with its velvety smooth potency I’ve thought of little else since.
A: While I enjoyed the richness of the Pomerol too, particularly after a little while out in the air, I was more partial to the Au Bon Climat 2011 Pinot Noir I tasted, with its easy-drinking complexity and notes of cherry and spice.
Every red and white we tried honestly had something special to offer, though; it is a wine list with a great deal of thought put into it and, to my mind, exactly the right length to give as much choice as necessary while still maintaining exacting quality.
One finds this quality in every aspect of Bandol, from service to environment to food, so in the end the question of its bar/restaurant status pales into insignificance: whatever you may be looking for in Bandol, whether a place to relax with a bottle (or several) amongst friends or a splendid meal out that will not disappoint, you will find it, and it will be excellent.