In a city filled with new openings every five minutes, it’s easy to forget restaurants that have been around a little longer. 93 years since opening, L’Escargot can boast the title of London’s oldest French restaurant.
Inside it feels old-school-posh but without that stifling atmosphere you used to get with fine dining. Service is relaxed, friendly, even jokey. We sit by the window, next to an open fire and underneath a crystal chandelier. It’s lovely.
The menu is vast and comes with the date printed on the top – a small but always nice touch. We start by sharing a croque monsieur (£6), which is more of a toastie but who cares as it’s ruddy delicious, and some cocktail sausages (£4) smothered in sweet, sticky honey and wholegrain mustard.
Beef bourguignon (£18) comes in its own cast iron dish. It’s rich, salty, sweet, comforting. The huge dollop of mash is 90% butter – exactly how it should be. The chunks of beef are soft and squishy while texture comes from the thick wedges of bacon.
Chateaubriand for two (£59) is served from a silver tray at the table. The thick slices of beef are exquisite; soft and delicate and brought alive by a punchy béarnaise. We dunk salty, freshly-fried chips in the endless amounts of that heavenly sauce.
We’re full but can’t resist a creme brûlée (£8). It’s a perfectly executed classic, yet more proof James Tyrrell, L’Escargot’s head chef of three years, knows exactly what he’s doing.
We waddle off into the madness of Soho in no doubt that the cooking at L’Escargot is top notch. Sure, you can find similar dishes down the road at Brasserie Zédel for less dollar, but you won’t be sitting in a 93 year old Grande Dame.
Would we go back? Yes