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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

40 B4 40- L'Escargot

No. 29: L'Escargot, Soho, London 

The previous weeks had been insanely busy, so a Friday night up town was just the remedy.

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As we arrived at Waterloo, along with our good friend Viv, we (they) decide to walk. As we entered Charing Cross I had my usual childish giggle at 'Herman The German's Hot Sausage Shop'. Several yards later I was in need of a drink, so I feigned a temporary paralysis. My wife simply took a big swing, and kicked me in the un-paralysed leg.  

Fortunately, Viv is a lot kinder, so we were soon at the bar of a trendy club near Covent Garden.  As I mused over how the bar girls outfits did not make them catch their death of cold, we were then approached by a bouncy barman who asked if we wanted doubles as it was 'Happy Hour'.  This threw the girls into turmoil, as they had already decided to have singles, trying to pace themselves for the night. Confusion then spread across Mr Bouncy's face, as he realised he had offered his 'Happy Hour' 15 minutes early. Singles it was then.

The walk still had a small way to go, and as we came into Old Compton Street my thirst suddenly returned. I slipped into an old Victorian pub, and the girls had no option other than to follow. As we ordered another round of drinks I noticed the other customers were quite male dominated, and a number of them were obviously 'very close friends'. 

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Time for dinner, so we turned the corner and were soon at L'Escargot in Greek Street, Soho. The greeting was warm as we entered the sixteenth century former townhouse. As we were taken into the dining room all of the staff gave us a smile, and we were feeling pretty good when we arrived at our table in the ground floor restaurant, with mirrored walls and work by artists such as Miro and Chagall.

As we were limited on time before going to our booked West End show, we decided to go for the 'Menu Du Jour'. Three tasty choices for each course, and at £19.50 fabulous value. It really is amazing the great places you can eat for such reasonable prices.

The waiter was soon putting luscious fresh butter on the crisp white table cloth, and offering us hot homemade olive, white or brown rolls. As you may imagine, I tried all of them over the course of the meal.

For our first starters we enjoyed Mussels à la Marinière and Velouté of Beef et Tomatoes, which was a very tasty spiced beef soup. The sauce and juices from the mussels was delicious, and more rolls were of course required for the mopping up, pleasingly our attentive waiter was soon on hand with his bread basket.  It seemed wrong not to experience the Spécialité de la Maison of Escargots cooked & served in their shells, with garlic butter & parsley, so we also all shared a serving of six snails.

Our main course choices were all the same, Pork Loin Steak, Vichy Carrots, Pomme Purée and mushroom jus. The pork was possibly the most tender I have ever had, the portion was pretty large, the mash smooth & creamy and the sauce simply rich and divine. Top dish!

The girls were looking pretty happy as we continued to slurp our bottle of Fleurie. Wine is something you can often get caught on in London restaurant, but these guys had a wine list that was varied and pretty gentle on the wallet.

For sweet I went for Pear Tart Bourdaloue with Cardinal Sauce, my wife & Viv had the Selection of French Cheese.  What a result, as I got to grab half of my wife's cheeses as well.

Time was now running out, so we had no time for coffee. As a really nice touch, a tray of petit fours was still presented with our bill.  Normally if there were only the two of us I would be in heaven, as my wife 'doesn't like' chocolate. (What a weirdo!).  Sadly, Viv is totally the opposite, so I had a challenge on my hands. Finding the balance between being polite, and maneuvering to get the favourite one's is tough. My concern was soon confirmed as Viv took the truffle to her lips.  My helpful comments on how; 'A moment on the lips, is a lifetime on the hips' did not phase her.  We simply stared in to each other eyes like wild west gunfighters as our game of petit four roulette played out. 

The restaurant describes itself as 'Fine dining with affordable glamour', and I have to say they have it spot on. 

As we left, very full and satisfied, the staff again gave us warm smiles, and we all confirmed this is a restaurant for us all to return to.

Next stop was our West End show, Les Miserables. Wow, wow, wow.  We had memories of how good it had been when we saw it around fifteen years ago, but this time it was even more spectacular. The singing, the story, the set, everything was superb. Your insides seem to jump and dance, and your emotions explode to the extent that on leaving you feel fantastic and exhausted!

If you have not seen Les Miserables in the West End, do go, and oh, if you take in a pre-theatre meal at L'Escargot it will make your evening perfect. 


About L’Escargot
The building dates from 1741 and was once the private residence of the Duke of Portland. L’Escargot was opened in 1927 by George Gaudin who created the first restaurant in the UK serving snails. The snails were farmed in the restaurants basement kitchen!  Following a complete refurbishment in the 1980's, L’Escargot was hailed as the first of London's 'Designer Restaurants', with head chef, Martin Lam making L'Escargot the place to eat. Today the restaurant is owned by Marco Pierre White.

On leaving, we spotted a Blue Plaque, showing that Peter Cook has lived in the flat opposite, a bet those floors having seen some great party's!

8 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4EF

If you are wondering what the 40 B4 40 Dining Challenge is all about, please click here and all will be explained.

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