I remember first visiting L’Escargot back in the Marco Pierre White days and it was stuffy, fussy and a little bit shit. It was then taken over by a lovely chap called Brian Clivaz (who’s also soon to open a new swanky members club in Devonshire Square) and a club prive was added above the ground floor restaurant.
I was surprised to see the place rather empty on my Thursday lunch visit. As I got comfy in my armchair it did however make me feel like I was in the drawing room of my very own stately home – which is always a nice thing at lunch.
To start, a frisÃ©e Caesar salad with lardons (Â£9) was a light and refreshing choice for a sunny afternoon. The lardons were huge; plump and salty and served alongside oily croutons which were lush.
Salt beef ‘pot au feu’ (Â£18) saw the most beautiful slab of fatty salt beef in a light beefy broth with some vegetables strewn over the top. It was such a flavourful, hearty broth that it instantly seemed to cure my hangover; like only a good old Jewish chicken soup can do.
Tart au citron (Â£8) was outstanding. The pastry was crisp (not a soggy bottom in sight) and the filling was so intensely citrusy it blew my head off – in a good way. A few basil leaves seemed an odd addition but they really worked alongside the dollop of thick clotted cream.
Critic for the Guardian Weekend magazine Marina O’Loughlin long ago coined the term “use ’em or lose ’em” referring to the grand old dames of the London restaurant scene. L’Escargot is certainly one of those dames. Yes, there are things that aren’t quite right; the menu being photocopied onto A3 sheets of paper being one of them, but the food is brilliant. Next time you’re in Soho looking for a burger or a bowl of ramen, give L’Escargot a whirl. Vous ne le regretterez pas.