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It’s been one of Soho’s gastronomic grandees since 1927 and has played host to many seminal figures from the world of hospitality, but venerable L’Escargot recently entered a new phase – following
its acquisition by Brian Clivaz (chairman of Langan's Brasserie) and Laurence Isaacson (co-founder of the
Chez Gérard chain). The interior has been given a striking (if somewhat provincial) refit involving black and red colour schemes and some dramatic chandeliers, but things are more reassuring on a
bourgeois menu that offers “everything you could wish for”. The kitchen can do creamy comfort (witness lobster thermidor, baked just so), although simple things tend to work best: signature
escargots disgorging breadcrumbs and garlicky juices; glossy spears of Evesham asparagus with hollandaise sauce; juicy grilled veal chop with lemon and thyme. Slick, super-friendly staff add to the
palpably good atmosphere, while grown-ups are happy to have somewhere civilised in Soho where they can actually book a table.
L’Escargot is London’s oldest French restaurant which is a pretty impressive statement. I remember going for dinner here back in the days when it was owned by Marco Pierre White and it was crap; stuffy atmosphere and service with mediocre food. It has since been given a rather dashing makeover and it’s now in the capable hands of a chap called Brian Clivaz who’s also chairman of Langan’s Brasserie.The ground floor dining room (it’s split into two) looks unrecognisable – it’s all red and black now with beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. We were seated by the open window overlooking Greek Street and it actually felt like we were on holiday...
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