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Will Smith and Anthony Demetre picked up universal acclaim for their first two sites, Arbutus and Wild Honey. As they prepare to open the doors at their third venture, Les Deux Salons (pictured, right and below), Square Meal caught up with Smith for a lowdown on the project, plus their future plans:
What’s the concept behind Les Deux Salons?
It’s based on, shall we say, a grand Parisian brasserie. We found a lovely building on William IV Street with high-enough ceilings to recreate a restaurant based on those timeless brasseries you find in the City. Mosaic floor, stained glass skylight, brass fittings – it looks superb.
What can customers expect from the menu?
Food is along brasserie lines, although perhaps a touch more refined. There’s the likes of stea- frites, crème brûlée, steak tartare, terrines and charcuterie, as well as a list of plats du jour – you can come in on Monday and have a special of lapin à la moutarde. Then we also do slightly more adventurous dishes such as saddle of rabbit, pumpkin gnocchi and hazelnuts.
You were widely praised for your wine lists at Arbutus and Wild Honey. How will it take shape at Les Deux Salons?
It’ll be slightly shorter – 20 reds and 20 whites – and goes around the world. Although we’re a French brasserie, I like to pick up wines from around the world. And, as always, every bin will be available by the bottle or in a 250ml carafe at a third of the price.
How has the half-price opening week
It’s been hectic. As always, it’s the technology that has let us down – failing credit-card machines, failing boilers; I’ve spent the week on the phone to engineers. But feedback has been excellent. People love the interior, the atmosphere has been good and we’ve done relatively big numbers – 60-80 for lunch and 100-120 dinner, so we’ll be ready for next week.
What next? Do you have plans for more sites in London?
We’ll be bedding this place in for the foreseeable future, but after that, who knows? Both Anthony and I have ambition and drive and like to challenge ourselves. So in the future, I’m sure we’ll look at opening another site.
Les Deux Salons, 40-42 William IV Street, Strand, London WC2N 4DD, 020 7420 2050. For more information and to read a full review click here.