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|Address:||40-42 William IV Street, Strand, London WC2N 4DD|
|Tel:||020 3551 9854|
|Price: £47.00||Wine: £17.50||Champagne: £59.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-10.45pm (Sun -5.45pm)|
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
There has been a plethora of recent openings of French style brasseries in London, from the very good (Luc's and Pierre Koffman) to the unispired (Bar Boulud); Les Deux Salons falls emphatically into the former grouping. The room (or rather, as the name suggests, rooms) are authenticly big, high-ceilinged, brasserie affairs, with the obligatory banquettes and booths; all vaguely red and dark woods.
We arrived after the theatre and had a booth upstairs. This is the quieter of the two rooms, although with a good view of the more crowded room downstairs. We were swiftly seated and menus produced, along with some nice French bread. The food is traditional brasserie fare, but with a mixture of English dishes (cottage pie and a Barnsley chop, for instance) thrown in.
The first thing to mention is the wine list: a terrific one. Not the tome of classic old world wines, with the occaisional Grange thrown in as a nod to the new world, but a single page on the back of the menu. A mixture of old and new, with carafes as well as bottles, and nothing over a ton.
Starters were uniformly lovely: onion tart was sweet and came with a crumbly goats cheese, a textural counterbalance to the crisp pastry of the tart; the wild mushrooms on toast presented some fine examples of the fungus, topped by a beautifully poached egg; and the lamb sweetbreads the outstanding dish. This latter came in a little vol-au-vent case. That's not fair: vol-au-vent is very Abigail's Party and cheese and pineapple on sticks, this was a bouchée à la reine. Whatever you call it, it was lovely: the pastry of the vol/bouchée might have been a little undercooked, but the sweetbreads were cooked to perfection; nut brown on the outside, gently cooked through and lightly coated in a cream suace. I would go back just for these alone
Mains too started well with a perfectly pink Barnsley chop and a top notch cottage pie: this latter coming in its own pot. Andouillette too came in a separate dish: a frying pan with the juices from the cooking in it. This led me to believe that this was the pan in which it had been cooked but no, the pan was cold. Why would you take a hot dish and put it in a cold pan? Yes, presentationally it was great, but all it did was serve to cool the AAAAA too quickly, which, if it did have the advertised mustard sauce with it, was so weak and un-mustardy, that I had to get some extra to jazz it up. Andouillette is THE classic braseerie dish. It should be piping hot and come with a mustard sauce that tastes of the ground up seeds.
Deserts were, alas, a bit mixed: we were warned off the ice cream by our excellent waitress so settled for a floating island, a Paris Brest and the chocolate mousse. The mousse was light and creamy, but adorned with an unnecessary layer of apple. The Paris Brest was not as exciting as it sounds, being a choux pastry doughnut, filled with a praline cream (we were with Americans, so this made them feel very at home); all perfectly fine, but nothing to make you go wow. The floating island, however, was just wrong: the island was a lightly poached egg white (as it should be), but moulded into shape in a ramkin rather than into a quenelle, and, worst of all, flecked with a crunchy red sugary substance. OK, the custard was lovely, but there should be a big puddle of the stuff on which the egg floats in a large plate, not a smear, adhering the egg to the tiny dish.
I have eaten at Arbutus on a number of occasions and always found it enjoyable. I have not (yet) tried Wild Honey (although I did have my hair cut there once: no, it is not some sort of hair dresser/restaurant combo, but it did used to be an up market barbers). Les Deux Salons is very different from them both. It is not Soho frenetic or Mayfair posh, it is Covent Garden French: this may seem an odd comment, but, with the excellent Terroirs bistro almost opposite, William IV Street in Covent Garden has two of the finest (cheaper) French restaurants in London. And cheap(er) it is: there were four of us, we had three courses each, three bottles of wine between us and coffee all for under £60 a head, including service. Recommended, but I'd skip the desert next time and maybe try the cheese.