30 Charlotte Street , London, W1T 2NG

Elena L Etoile May 2016 2

SquareMeal Review of L'Etoile

L’Etoile’s red upholstery and starched linen may have been replaced by muted tones and bare tabletops (and significantly fewer celebrity photographs), but after 120 years of operation, it’ll take more than an airy refurbishment to change this former showbiz darling’s ways. Food remains reassuringly weighty, meaty and old-school French. A starter of ‘rich fish soup’ was unarguably so: a filling signature dish with rouille, Parmesan and croûtons. To follow, a broth of ham hock, merguez sausage and pork belly had slightly tough meat, but roast guinea fowl boasted moist flesh and crisp skin, plus sides of smooth garlic mash and wickedly creamy cabbage and bacon. Desserts include ‘Black Forest chocolate decadence’ (an unexpectedly light brownie with fruits), and the wine list is heavily Gallic. Sadly, Elena Salvoni, the legendary nonagenarian host, died earlier this year, but the newly brightened L’Etoile shines on, offering solid French sustenance in cosseting, steady surroundings.

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Goodge Street Tube Station 227m

Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 417m


Address: 30 Charlotte Street , London W1T 2NG

Area: Bloomsbury & Fitzrovia

Opening times

Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm Mon-Sat 5-10.30pm

Nearby Landmarks

Contemporary Applied Arts 136m

Goodge Street 185m


Telephone: 020 7636 7189


Cuisine: French

Private Dining: 0


Food & Drink: 6.1

Service: 5.4

Atmosphere: 6.3

Value: 5.6

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

Stuart F. 12 June 2012

This place used to be a great haunt for PRs and journalists back in the 90s, when I last went there. I came here on a Monday lunchtime and found it very quiet – more waiters than diners. I came back to some of the atmosphere that existed back then, but sadly lacking now. Perhaps a victim of the financial crunch or perhaps everyone has gone elsewhere? This used to be an iconic Soho eatery. What's happened?

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

John B. 02 October 2010

My third and last visit to this time worn venue.I hadn't been for 2 years and this was my first evening visit. I didn't expect the place to be done up even Parisien restaurants decorate occasionally, the way to the toilets is quite unpleasant. My colleague and I ordered 2 glasses of champagne and a bottle of '05 St Emillion at £43.25. I was asked to try the red wine whilst still drinking the Champagne but not shown the bottle. It was only later that I realised it was a far less special '06 My Roquefort tart starter was very bland but then we had to wait a long time for our mains. My lamb was far from warm and my colleague's had clearly been kept under a lamp for far too long and was dry. We couldn't complain at that point because no member of staff came near our end of the restaurant indeed at no point were we asked if we had enjoyed the food.Service was very variable 4 requests to order but then left for long gaps and my plate removed before my colleague had finished eating. Desserts were fine. We asked about being served the wrong wine and the manager gave the following explanations, “had we checked the date on the bottle?”. “ Had we enjoyed it?” "we wouldn't get '06 cheaper anywhere else" "The '05 was very popular and that was why they had run out. I pointed out that '05 was an exceptional vintage and is chaged at a premium, we should have been told it was not available and I expected a reduction, to which he shrugged and walked away. When the bill arrived the manager stood over us in an intimidatory way while I checked the bill noting no reduction in the price of the wine or a refund.It took me a little while to spot he had not charged for the desserts and his crowing response had by then mitigated any benefit of the reduction. The reduction was also somewhat reduced by us being charged more than a half each for our share of the bill. They didn't like being questioned about their service, didn't care what we thought about it and couldn't produce decent food . A previous reviewer said this place compared well with Parisien restaurants. Far cheaper places in Paris would provide a far better experience and be very concerned that you had a good evening. Elena's L'Etoile ruined ours.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Phillipa F. 15 September 2010

Square Meal Review on Etoile Restaurant My husband and I recently decided to go for lunch in London we chose the “Elena’s Etoile” in Charlotte Street as it was French and we liked the look of the menu when we searched their website prior to booking. I don’t usually bother to write reviews but on this occasion I felt I must. The restaurant was full of old fashioned charm and character and the walls were covered in signed photographs of the many celebrities who have dined there over the years. The staffs were efficient and attentive without being too intrusive. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, I had a goats cheese and ham hock starter, my husband the Pea soup (he always has soup) this was followed by Gressingham duck with beetroot and sautéed baby gem hearts and Sea Bream. I had a Marquise chocolate dish which was beautifully presented and delicious, my husband had the Crème Brule. The ambiance was great lots of media types in deep conversations. I can definitely recommend this restaurant and I’m look forward to my next visit, whenever that may be?

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Tom W. 28 October 2009

This really was comically bad in some aspects it made the decidly average food the high point of the evening. I arrived for my 31st birthday, the maitre d barely looked at us, the waiter broke a wine glass but failed to clear it up, leaving us cleaning specks of glass away from our cutlery and from our water glasses. We were then asked four times if we were ready to order. Admittedly we took some time to choose, but four times?? Maybe when the waiter knocked my girlfriend in the head with a tray serving the table next to us it was some method of hurrying us along. Scallops were small & overpriced, my lamb was dry and poorly presented, no better than I can knock up at home for half the price. My better half called her also dry guinea fowl ‘aeroplane food’. I cannot believe they can charge over £20 a plate for this. Coffee arrived after reminding the waiter twice, and the service charge was begrudgingly removed – the first time we have ever felt strongly enough to request this. A family next to me also were also compaining to each other about the service so I feel the criticism is justifiable. I feel ashamed that the tourists next to us will go back to Norway and bemoan London restaurants, because the majority I eat in are excellent. However this place should be singled out for criticism. I picked it out based on Square Meals ‘best for romance’ category. They are sadly wrong.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

robert b. platinum reviewer 01 March 2009

Yes I know its an institution! but I have to say the last time I went, which was over 15 years ago, my guest- a very important client I seem to remember-handed over to the waiter the biggest cockroach I have ever seen! so its been a while since I have had the nerve to go back. On Friday night I was with my lovely wife and two friends and it was one of our friends who suggested we go, I told my story but they insisted. The good news is no insects large or small. It is a funny old place, oblivious to fashion and stubbornly refusing to change what it does and how it does it. The staff are as old as the paint work but boy are they quick! orders are taken quickly and with a smile, empty plates don't hang around long. One of my friends said “If you stopped in some small town en route to Paris this is the kind of restaurant you would probably find” and thats a pretty good summary: reliable french cooking of the old school, not very exciting or different with a wine list to match. Good for older French relatives or friends bad for anyone under the age of 30 or over the age of ten.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Jane E. 16 December 2008

After spending a day at the Chelsea Flower show May 2008, my good friends met me and took me to Etoile. This was a resturant they had visited several times before, but not for a while. But they felt it was the right one for our evening. We all wanted a relaxed eveing, where we could enjoy the conversation, good food, good wine and discrete service – so it would be a memorable treat, as it had been a long time since we'd been altogether. Etoile's proved to deliver just what we wanted. Friendly, cosy, interesting, attentive without being intrusive and each dish was excellent. Each of us ordered very different dishes for each course. Each of us know what we like, we are fussy and know when the food, wine and service is right. We enjoyed ourselves. We concluded that Etoiles was the right choice, the food was good and tasted as it should, they were classic dishes and no one apologised that they were classic, as opposed to trendy. So we shall return, next time we are all in London.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 2.0

Terry F. 01 November 2008

Rude and rank. My first visit was great, but my last, was my last. Not going into the details, but that's dust on the waiters shoulders not dandruff.