Blood orange gratinMore pictures
With all the recent London openings such as Dinner by Heston, Koffmann’s and Nopi gathering many media inches and praise, it seems like an age away now that Les Deux Salons; an attempt to recreate a classic French brassiere – from the team behind Arbutus and Wild Honey – opened up to what felt like food-critic hysterics. It felt like every name in the industry told us that this was the best opening in London since the Jubilee line extension. Unfortunately for me on my visit it really felt that the early excellence has not been upheld and the amazing food and friendly service was no where to be seen.
It is still rather difficult getting a table at the restaurant and when entering I found staff that, to me, gave the impression that they were floundering under this success. Our reservation was for 6pm but I arrived a little bit early after a day of loitering in London to ‘check in’ (I obtained no telephone confirmation on the day for my booking) and get a quick drink at the bar. First thing I was told was that they would need the table back for 7.15pm; even if my table had been for 5.30pm, this is 15 minutes less than the 2hrs they say we had the table for on the booking confirmation email (grr). After confirming that I would indeed be taking my table at the expected 6pm, we were told that they needed it back by 7.45. Unfortunately these little service niggles continued throughout our meal.
Food-wise, the menu is very French; frites instead of chips, crème Anglais instead of custard. There are daily specials but unfortunately Saturdays offering is cottage pie. I have nothing against cottage pie but when compared to their other offerings, such as classic bouillabaisse and cassoulet, it seems rather a meagre offering. It turned out that they also do additional specials, but we only found out about these when wondering what the little menus on all other tables, but not ours were (grr).
With it being British Pie Week at the time, there was only one starter that I could really consider – the snail and bacon pie. My friend, having lived in France for an enviable amount of time went for fish soup with rouille and ‘croûtons’. First impressions were that of a burnt pie. I know it’s easy to do but don’t burn a pie and send it out; especially not on British Pie Week (grr). The filling was alright, it could have done with a bit more bacon and having had snails a couple of times before, I’m pretty sure that they are not quite for me. The soup had a slightly smoked taste to go with its broth but both were missing something to make them worth coming back again for. I was also a bit worried when they came out almost immediately on ordering (in under 5 minutes).
Likewise can be said for the mains. The rabbit dish my friend had looked rather impressive, was well cooked and, as my friend tells me – I don’t eat rabbit (unless tricked) – was nicely rabbit-tasting but was a little bit small when compared to the andouillette sausage that I had. I’d never had andouillette before and it’s fair to say that I probably won’t again. I am normally a fan of tripe but this just tasted a bit too strong for me. The high meat content meant that it kinda exploded with every cut; the mustard sauce it was served with also didn’t have a particularly strong taste and while it’s probably difficult to serve sausage attractively it did have the look of a turd in a pan. It’s fair to say that my taste for adventure probably didn’t end with me ordering the best dish on the menu and I’ve heard good things about the more ‘boring dishes’ such as belly pork and lentils, and the burgers.
Puds were a saving grace, with a nicely crisp topped vanilla crème brûlée and blood orange gratin. Both being light and well thought out, at least as much as they can be with a light sweetness providing a great way to finish off the meal. On walking out into Trafalgar Square, we past a pretty-much empty restaurant, annoying me all the more that such a fuss was made of their need to reclaim the table (grr).
If consistency is the mark of a great restaurant then Les Deux Salons still has a plenty-way to go as I didn’t experience any of the things that critiques before me had wrote about. The prices are good enough to warrant giving them a second effort and I know how good the team behind it are; I love Wild Honey and could eat their daily, so I’m hoping that they can iron these teething-issues out soon.Tweet