Natasha Blair Rediscovers Authentic French Cooking at dog-friendly L’Escargot
We arrived early for our dinner reservation, and despite it being 6.30pm the restaurant was already busy. Soho has always been renowned for its eclectic choice of restaurants. L’Escargot the French restaurant in Greek Street, based in what in what was once a Georgian house, is one of London’s eateries that has been around for nearly a hundred years, and boasts royalty and famous celebrities amongst its clientèle.
I couldn’t miss the place with its huge neon sign. Inside, the Regency style dècor has been preserved together with a glitzy bar that divides the front seating area from the back. The walls are covered in paintings contributed over time by locals and clients. The interior oozes comfort and warmth rather than the more modern, but cold décor that is considered stylish at the moment.
As a dog owner, a big bonus for me is that dogs are not only allowed but welcomed. The Senior Partner, Brian Clivaz was there with his English bulldog Dorris, and although I didn’t know it when I arrived, there were several other well-behaved dogs there too. My companion and I were shown to a table in a corner in the back which had comfortable red velour armchairs, and Poppy, my dog, was settled under the table with a bowl of water.
With Valentine coming up, this is definitely a place to consider for a romantic evening. A glass of Henriot Brut, their house champagne, £16.00 a glass, £85 a bottle seemed the most appropriate way of starting the evening.
The restaurant has a fixed price menu – two courses £25, three £29 available at lunch and between 5 and 7pm. Although we were eating after that time, I choose a starter and main course which were both on the fixed menu. With a name like L’Escargot, the snail, the restaurant’s house speciality was, of course, snails. As a prelude to our meal, we shared six snails £18 which came smothered in a thick sauce of butter, garlic and parsley plus unknown ingredients which the restaurant claims to be their own unique sauce!
I haven’t had an authentic French onion soup for ages so was delighted when mine turned out to be just that. Arriving piping hot, the soup was smothered with cheese, a combination of comté and gruyere which was all gooey just as it should be, and delicious. Malcolm’s salad of avocado, pomegranate and pistachios £12 looked uninspiring by contrast. However, he did better with the carbonnade of beef “Georges Gaudin’, named after the original founder of the restaurant.
Malcolm who came from up North said that there it would have been called a stew, but whatever, he thought it delicious. Pieces of marinated beef that were soft and tender, served with potatoes and carrots. A nice touch was a piece of fried bread shaped as a heart placed on top. I had the confit of duck served on a bed of braised red cabbage £24 with fresh leaf spinach on the side £7.
We shared a dark chocolate souffle £16 which we were warned would mean a 20-minute wait, but after my rich meal, it gave us time to digest our meal before the dessert. The souffle came with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream, which the waiter inserted deep inside, and then smothered the souffle with a hot chocolate sauce. Malcolm’s proclaimed it ‘divine’.
The wine list, all French, ranged from £34 to £350 for a Dom Pérignon champagne £350. There was also a good selection of wines by the glass as well as digestifs, and sweet and fortified wines.
Chef, James Tyrrell trained at Langan’s Brasserie with the legendary Richard Shepherd as well as doing a stint in the kitchens at Claridges Hotel in Mayfair.
From Thursday to Saturday, afternoon tea is served £48 which includes a selection of finger sandwiches, home-baked scones and cake.
Upstairs there are rooms which can be hired for private dinners and events. As well as, hidden away on the second floor, The Snail Club which opens on 21 February, 2024. Capitalising on the legacy of the restaurant’s past famous visitors, the Club’s aim is to provide fine-dining, cultural experiences and intellectual connections with a diverse range of events being organised.
Sometimes one forgets about old favourites in the search for somewhere new. L’Escargot has definitely stood the test of time, and I look forward to visiting the Club particularly as there will have a pianist entertaining members into the small wee hours!
Tell me more about L’Escargot in Soho.
L’Escargot 48 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4EF.
T: 020 7439 7474 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Tuesday – Saturday 12 – 3pm last orders. Dinner 5 – 10.30pm last orders
Afternoon tea 2.30 – 5pm Sunday 12 – 5pm. Closed Monday
The Snail Club
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 1am
Sunday 11am – 6pm E: email@example.com