This classy Italian off Drury Lane is the result of years of impressive networking. Co-founders Nicolas Jaouën and Paulo de Tarso certainly know their hospitality: de Tarso spent nearly six years as maître d’ at Bar Boulud, while Jaouën was the first general manager of Balthazar. Still, almost four years after opening, Margot doesn’t need comparing with the pair’s previous projects and has established itself as one of the most reliable bets in Covent Garden.
Margot is an impressive-looking proposition, a handsomely appointed, high-ceilinged space occupying a plum corner spot near the Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal. Attention to service is the top priority, from the white-suited Italian bar staff who can rustle up a classic cocktail to the eye-catching crockery and the attentions of the charming waiters.
We kicked off with uovo in camicia, a soft-poached duck egg that burst forth its rich, fondant-textured yolk over a parmesan polenta that was almost like a chunky cheese soup, with peppery seasoning courtesy of fresh watercress. Perfectly timed pan-fried scallops, meanwhile, came crusted with spicy nduja, some cauliflower purée offering a welcome blandness to offset the heat.
Pastas come in main-course portions; the chewy lobster in a tangle of tagliolini, alas, didn’t display the same sure touch as the scallops, though the pasta itself was excellent. Ossobuco was much better, a slab of tender veal shin sitting atop a golden saffron risotto soaking up veal jus and the sticky marrow from inside the bone.
Generous portions – including multiple visits from a waiter bearing a bread basket containing addictive focaccia – mean you might not make it to dessert; we’d recommend sharing a salted caramel semifreddo with gianduja cream, which delivers a hit of sugar without any heaviness.
With pre- and post-theatre menus, Sunday roasts and a 350-strong wine list boasting Italian heavyweights and 20 by-the-glass options, there’s much to enjoy here.