Jolly good eggs

Caviar lovers will delight in two glamorous restaurants offering the very best of these dark, shimmering spheres

Prunier restaurant, Paris
Prunier restaurant, Paris

How does the Gannet, who loves food – as Othello puts it, not wisely but too well – observe the festive season? What food seduces the palate, whispers the word “elegance” and shouts “celebration” louder than Kool & the Gang?

No contest: it is the salt-cured eggs of the sturgeon, known as caviar – in a glamorous setting, naturellement, with champagne on ice, the mother-of-pearl spoon glinting like a rainbow, and the dark eggs as shimmering and clinging as a Dior gown.

If there is a soupçon of Paris about this, it is because the first place that springs to mind when I think of those glistening spheres is Prunier, on Avenue Victor Hugo. This splendid Art Deco building is perfect for the consumption of caviar, a place that a rather chic mermaid might choose for lunch.The caviar in question is also French, farmed in Aquitaine. I am especially fond of the Saint James brand (there was a Prunier restaurant, Madame Prunier, on St James’s Street until the mid-1970s): pleasantly yielding in texture, not too salty, and with a lingering, savoury finish.But, while tempting, man cannot live on caviar alone; happily Prunier’s famous motto is: “Tout ce qui vient de la mer”. There are Gillardeau’s unimpeachable oysters, as well as lobster, crab and langoustines.Chef Eric Coisel has a supreme lightness of touch, introducing subtle Mediterranean flavours without overwhelming his top-notch produce: try octopus salad with Taggiasca olives, herby and dusted with piment d’Espelette; or sublime crab cakes with a light curry sauce; or opt for the “tout caviar” menu, in which the divine eggs are paired with a yuzu sorbet as a palate cleanser before dessert.In London, the caviar lover can do no better than head to Bellamy’s, on Bruton Place, which is housed in a building that was, until 10 years ago, Caviar Kaspia. The tradition survives at Bellamy’s Oyster Bar, where – aside from the bivalves and the famous open sandwiches topped with Cornish crab, potted shrimps or foie gras – you can also order caviar, either the Aquitaine variety or the pricier (but magnificent) oscietra.The restaurant itself is an archetypal little brasserie serving classic French dishes in a clubby, woody, white-clothed room. Start with oeuf en gelée, perhaps — a soft-boiled egg (from a hen, not a sturgeon) set in jellied consommé — and follow it with quenelles de brochet, sauce Nantua, pike transformed into ethereal souffléd dumplings, bathed in a sauce made from lobster, not the customary crayfish. A light meal, certainly, but at least you will have saved plenty of room for a few blinis… and some more caviar.

Bellamy’s restaurant, London
Bellamy’s restaurant, London
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