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48 Greek Street
020 7439 7474
Those seeking a taste of idiosyncratic old Soho should make a beeline for this multi-levelled townhouse on Greek Street. Dating from 1741, it became L’Escargot in 1927, with the titular gastropods earning pride of place on the menu: served steaming in a glossy garlic and parsley sauce, they keep company with the likes of celeriac and truffle soup, steak tartare or chicken liver parfait. To follow, half a grilled lobster is as swanky as the setting, while cassoulet just about passes muster (despite its “bland” sauce) – allow the clued-up, friendly staff to guide you towards more promising dishes, notably the daily specials. The menu has yielded to changing times with the odd plate of pak choi or dash of chilli but, like the homely open fire in the front dining room, it’s not concerned with the cutting edge. Myriad private rooms lend the restaurant a clubby lived-in buzz, while bar snacks and cocktails provide something more casual.
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Best Private Rooms: >30
From: 01 October 2018
To: 30 November 2018
Including Béarnaise sauce, frites, side salad and a glass of bubbly each.
Look for the "£" icon when booking (offers only available on certain days/times)
48 Greek Street
020 7439 7474
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 210m
Leicester Square Tube Station 329m
Prince Edward Theatre 35m
Old Compton Street 82m
For the best part of a century, L’Escargot has been a beacon of hospitality in Soho with a range of private rooms and menus to suit any occasion. The building has a clubby, lived-in buzz on account of its history and well-drilled staff, while the kitchen turns out dishes in the best bourgeois French tradition. Most famous of its private rooms is the The Salon Vert, with its stunning 18th Century ceiling, large windows and eclectic art, that graces any celebration with a certain wow-factor, be it a private dinner or cocktail reception. More intimate spaces can be set up for reception drinks or smart dinners.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
We were a party of six booked for Saturday evening at 8.45pm. We arrived a little early and went for a drink in the bar which is very nice. However, it took nearly 15 minutes for someone to come and take our drinks order and then a further 10 before they arrived. By this time our table still wasn't ready (8.55pm) and we were told it was available but still being set. 20 minutes later we were finally shown to our seats (we had clearly been lied to about the table being set) with no hint of an apology for them being over half an hour late.
The food itself is fine - well cooked classics although somewhat expensive for the quality of the cooking itself (£21 for a dozen snails, £32 for a steak with no sides included). Also there is a cover charge of £2 per head which is pretty unusual for a restaurant such as this (all it got us was four slices of bread between the six of us) and a 'market leading' service charge of 14.5%.
The services itself was patchy - attentive at points but disappointing at others (e.g. we ordered sparkling water and still arrived, when we pointed it out there was no apology and he just kept on pouring the water - also we ordered a bottle of white from the sommelier but when we wanted another we were told it had run out - for a party of 6 they should have let us know when we ordered it - in addition one of the coffees didn't arrive and then was charged twice on the bill). Nothing horrific but all in keeping with a sense that the waiting staff were more concerned about chatting amongst themselves and laughing at their own jokes than serving the customers.
Would I go back? No - decent food and a good atmosphere (although very loud bass heavy music which felt a little out of keeping for a classic French restaurant) but the service seemed more for their benefit than ours, both on price and quality.
Food + drink: 4
L'Escargot is like a tardis! The frontage appears small from the road yet once inside the interior is huge and the decor is amazing. Unfortunately, we could only stay for a short time as going to the theatre. We plan to return soon and spend an evening at this restaurant. The food is good and we look forward to selecting from the full menu rather than the pre theatre menu. Service is also good and the waiting staff attentive.
In the few days preceding the birthdays of my childhood I'd rifle through my Mother’s wardrobe searching for the present that I hoped she’d got me. Sometimes I couldn’t find anything. “Had she forgotten?” I would ask. A successful foray into the dark corners of the closet would result in the sighting of a gleaming red tractor encased in a box more colourful and magical than Joseph’s dream coat. A failed mission was defined by the absence of a positive sighting and operations were often aborted as I sensed my mother’s feet pacing down the hallway.
It was however the years when I wasn't able to locate my present prior to September 10th that I had the most enjoyable of birthdays. I've never been good at acting, or presenting a surprised facade after unwrapping a gift that I’d previously set eyes on. When I went looking for the gift, I ruined it for myself. It’s the same with restaurants. I can’t help but type the name of the place into tripadvisor and click through all the photographs. There’s not a renowned restaurant in London for which I've not seen the signature dish. Dining at special restaurants is not just about the taste of the food, but equally, the grin that envelopes your face as the waiter glides to your table with a composition you thought it impossible to create. When you've seen the dish online, that smile isn't quite the same.
I’ve already ruined my experience of L’Escargot because I know exactly what to expect. As much as I’d like to, there’s no real point in me going. I’ve booked it for tomorrow night but know I will have to send my apologies and cancel the table. I’ve read every review on it; I’ve trawled through photos on trip advisor. I know that the room looks warm, inviting and convivial. I know it’s going to be around forty quid for three courses and I know it’s been lovingly revived. I know I’d order the gnocchi and the tarte tatin. And I know that because of this someone else will have a more marvellous evening than I. Stop reading the reviews and give it a go. It looks a real cracker.
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