Opening a French restaurant in London is a gamble. Opening one a stones throw away from the fabulously successful French gastro-bistro Terroirs, and you could be accused of being a glutton for punishment. But whats a little competition to Will Smith and Anthony Demetre, the Michelin-starred dynamic duo behind Sohos Arbutus, Mayfairs Wild Honey, and now Covent Gardens Les Deux Salons?
Draw back the brocade drapes at the door and London vanishes in a haze of dark leather banquettes, smoked mirrors and white-aproned waiters. It all screams Parisian bistro chic. Not that there was much French to be heard amongst the cheerful, very grown-up crowd or the staff for that matter. But then Les Deux Salons does take a slightly bipartisan approach to things, teaming the best of British ingredients with some classic French dishes, (snails and bacon pie for example), while still keeping the steak& frites classics in the mix. The bavette may be from Scotland and the snails from Herefordshire, but the veals head and andouillette (tripe sausage) were all French in spirit.
Being a bit of a wimp when it comes to offal, it was left to the gastronomically unflappable French dining partner to try out the Bouchée à la Reine, (lamb sweetmeats in puff pastry) which apparently could have been a bit creamier. The liver main course, however, passed her taste test with flying colours, while back on the less red-blooded side of the table, the onion and goats cheese tart got top marks, as did the roasted cod, and steamed spinach that followed. A slightly bitter dark chocolate mousse and a decadent creme brulee brought our two-hour indulgence to a very sweet end. As we reluctantly left the velvety fug of Les Deux Salons, it was comforting to know that like all great brasseries, we didnt need a special occasion to return to Les Deux Salons just a good appetite.
The ELLEuk Score
Good for: Special occasions; first date; romantic
Style of food: French
Prices & Other Details at Les Deux Salons
Address: 40 William IV Street, London WC2 4DD
Opening hours: Mon Sun Lunch noon-3pm, Afternoon Tea 3-5pm, dinner 5-11pm (Sun 10.30pm).
Price per person for two-course meal without wine: £30-32
Set menu: Three-course theatre menu is £15.50
Price of bottle of house wine: Trebbiano, Italy (white) £14.50; Tempranillo, Spain (red) £14.50
Price of glass of house wine: Trebbiano, Italy (white) £3.50; Tempranillo, Spain (red) £3.50
Price of glass of house champagne: Ernest Rapeneau Brut NV, France £9.95
Price of bottle of house champagne: Ernest Rapeneau Brut NV, France £42.50
Private room hire: Two rooms for hire. The smaller one seats 10, while the larger can accommodate 24.
Who goes? Business people, foodies, locals, tourists.
Garden/al fresco area: No
Bar: Yes and open for diners to eat the full a la carte
Best table? Downstairs is best for groups, but go for one of the sexy velvet-curtained nooks upstairs if youre in a more romantic frame of mind.
Nearest tube: Charing Cross Tube