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|Address:||40-42 William IV Street, Strand, London WC2N 4DD|
|Tel:||020 3551 9854|
|Price: £40.00||Wine: £17.50||Champagne: £59.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-11pm Sun 11am-6pm|
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The third in the family from Anthony Demetre, the chef behind low key Michelin starred joints Wild Honey and Arbutus, was always going to get my interest. I've had some great meals at the other two and was excited to hear about the plans for a larger, more classically French bistro just off St Martin's Lane. Like one of my other big current favourites, the Dean Street Townhouse, Les Deux Salons is housed in a former Pitcher and Piano and my god, is it an improvement. While they may not have the deep pockets of Caprice Holdings, the team behind Les Deux Salons have done a great job turning the large, cavernous space into an elegant French bistro. Deep red banquettes, blacks and whites and elegant brasses go with the formality of the linen table cloths and the bustling smart floor team. It's a big room, with further covers on the mezzanine level, and they'll have to go some to fill it on every service, but on this showing, I think they're in with a fighting chance, even if the mezzanine level isn't open often.
It's a classic bistro menu, with a large nod to their Josper Grill (an ultra hot Spanish machine drooled over by chefs nationwide) and a Gallic sneer towards the vegetarians – a couple of salads and a solitary (though very fine) pasta dish complete the meat free line up. A particularly fine looking bavette (or flank steak) arrives on the next table, joining a Scottish beefburger that comes in at £12 and pretty much guarantees my return visit. We go for the very good value £15 set menu and slip in the orecchiette pasta as a shared course after the starter. It's almost a step too far.
The white bean and smoked duck soup I start with is OK, but to be honest, it's nothing special. I can't taste the duck at all and the bean is a little chalky. The Vole's chunky country terrine is a much better option, full of flavoursome nuggets of melting fat. Fresh orecchiette pasta comes in a creamy sauce with artichokes, pecorino, kale and pine nuts and is exceptional. Well cooked, well seasoned and with individual flavours that really shine through. Simple but very well thought through. Even more simpler is the braised shoulder of venison served with a parsnip puree that follows as my main. It's a big portion of gamey melting meat served with a smooth puree and a rich jus. The meat was obviously on the go before I was this morning, and has been caramelised around the edges with the Josper. It's sweet and meltingly tender. I feel thoroughly sated.
The chocolate fondant was acceptable, good even, but almost too much after the previous courses. It wasn't too memorable, but I did spy a Rhum Baba on an adjacent table with my name on it for next time.