Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Les Deux Salons

carrot with your bavette, monsieur?

A quick one on a recent trip to Les Deux Salons, the French bistro which will be known by many as the old Pitcher & Piano by Trafalgar Square. And what a transformation.

The dining room is bold, mature and quite authentically Parisian in style. Or possibly Lyonnais too, I do keep seeing things about Lyon’s culinary scene. Anyway, it’s more simple and less over-stylised like a Café Rouge.

It’s a grand place, with a strong sense of occasion to it. Our meal wasn’t a long one – mains and dessert. And champers, and wine. Fantastic wine list, and I’ll be damned if I can remember what we had but it was certainly good value. Hic!

The rib of beef for two (£22.50) was fantastic. And great value. A generous portion, perfectly charred and even more perfectly pink, and nicely salted. Having had a few lacklustre chateaubriands and sharing steaks in my time, I wasn’t expecting great things, but it was delicious.

Another in our party had the bavette which at £15.50 is approaching the realms of pricier cuts. It inexplicably had a whole, massive carrot which was frankly bonkers. 
It was served in a pan with juices aplenty, a thoughtful touch for a cut which usually needs some moisture. Not pre-sliced though, and unless one is a butcher experienced at ‘the grain’, I’ve found bavettes can be less satisfying when you end up mutilating them.

The macaroni with butternut squash and wild mushrooms was creamy, cheesy, rich and indulgent. Veggie tick! And again served in the pan, although punchy at £15.95.

Fries were solid; gratin dauphinois was better (both £3.75). And a luxurious accompaniment to the steak.

At dessert, we had more booze and the cheeseboard. Oh, and the apple tart which was excellent. Nice caramelised apples with some bite left (I hate it too soggy I’m afraid so prefer this style to tarte tatin) and the obligatory scoop of vanilla which cannot fail to enhance a dessert. Much like bacon with a main course. 

But this vanilla was a slice and reminded me of that weird astronaut ice cream.

In terms of clientele, it is a fairly mature place and given the location, there are lots of theatre goers, people taking their London-visiting parents, dates, Euros, work dinners….it’s not Duck Soup or Polpo, but not everywhere has to be so sceney. It’s characterful and quite regal considering what it was. Must be one of the best renovations I’ve ever witnessed. It could have been here for years, if the mirrors were a tad smokier!

The bar possibly isn’t being utilised as well as it could be, or maybe it was just a bit quieter when we were in. Walk-ins and theatre dining are encouraged, but more of a cocktail scene would give this place the edge. It’ll certainly be in for a fight in terms of profile when Balthazar lands on these shores, but the excellent food and service should see it do absolutely fine in the longer term.

Food – 8/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 9/10
Value – 8/10
Tap water tales – 8/10
Staff Hotness – 7/10
Les Deux Salons on Urbanspoon 
Square Meal

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