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|Address:||4-6 Russell Street, London WC2E 7BN|
|Tel:||020 3301 1155|
|Price: £56.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £61.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 7.30am-12M (Sat 9am- ) Sun 9am-11pm|
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Our first visit today to this large and very busy brasserie in Covent Garden with a young or tourist clientele. Its a place that has worked out that the way to make money is to keep busy from early till late and simply change what they serve to fit the time of day. Unfortunately what this means is that at lunchtimes at the weekend you get a brunch menu , period, and whilst there are main meals available on it, they tend to be the simpler things from the menu and its pretty difficult to tell what a kitchen can do from its onion soup, moules frites, and omelette. So nothing too taxing for th kitchen then, till what I imagine to be the first team come along for the evening shift.
To be fair the food we ate was OK. We both felt that the onion soup was too thick with onions and cheese, and not enough liquid. My moules frites were, well moules frites. Far superior to Belgo, and nicely plump, but with not a huge amount of flavour and the shape of the pot the mussels were served in made it difficult to get at the creamy sauce until you've pretty much finished the mussels. Frites were fine. We had a few glasses of a sauvignon/semillon from the Bordeaux region which did't have much character. Fresh mint tea decent, breads about average
What surprised me a little was the service, for despite that the place was full to overflowing, the service from a variety of staff was invariably pleasant and timely. The guys in suits were out there helping out which is a good sign. The place is large, lots of wood and what looked like a tin ceiling painted to look tobacco stained and which we tried(unsuccessfully ) to work out whether it was original or a reminder of Balthazar's NYC origins. Its very busy and pretty noisy, and finding your way through the tables can be a little tortuous, but we both felt that it wasn't excessively cramped.
All told, I left there today feeling that it was a bit like an upmarket Cafe Rouge which has for the time being at least succeeded in catching a lot of people's imagination. I repeat-we didn't get to eat what we'd have chosen from the real menu- but from what I saw today I'd say that Les Deux Salons, a few minutes away, is a better bet as Brasseries go. Certainly I've eaten carefully cooked food there.