Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Les Deux Salons William IV Street review - French brasserie with a twist


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Address: 40 William IV Street
London WC2N 4DD
Tel: 020 7420 2050
Nearest Tube station: Charing Cross

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £30pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ****
Having impressed them with Ottolenghi’s breakfast, there was a higher expectation for lunch, which followed soon after. Despite having a filling breakfast, our visitors who were stopping over London for the weekend were looking forward to lunch at Les Deux Salons.

We arrived in Covent Garden way ahead of our 1pm reservation that Saturday and took the opportunity to walk off the French toasts that was still burning off slowing in our guts. It was interesting to see what our companions, who frequently fly to and fro London and Singapore, get when they are in town. Apparently, the current fads are Fred Perry shirts and Swarovski pens. Then again, with the current exchange rate, anything goes. Given half a chance, folks back home would probably cleared the shelves along New Bond Street. The saving grace is that Londoners have the likes of Hawksmoor, Ottolenghi and Koya in our backyard. If we are indeed deprived, at least we eat well.

So there we were walking along Charing Cross Road turning into William IV Street and coming up to Les Deux Salons moments later. Granted that we were a bit early (twenty two minutes to be precise) but the all day French brasserie was a tad bare when we reached. I made the mistake of thinking that thought out loud and the hostess was a bit defensive with a ”it does get more crowded later on.” To give her credit, it did though not by much.

Wife was really disappointed when we were told that the sweetbread, an item Les Deux Salons was known for, had ran out. Not only that, the menu was different from what we expected. Actually, we were gunning for its famed cheeseburger. Not exactly something that you would expect from a French brasserie and thus the novelty. Maybe that was available for dinner and not lunch, in which case was not apparent on its website's menu. That said, the complementary bread selection was warm when served, a hallmark of a fine dining place.

The service was a joy however. A tall jovial gentleman served us, our companion uttered a merci. “Oh, it’s alright, I’m not even French,” he chuckled. With our stomach still filled with Ottolenghi’s bread, we ordered two mains and two sides to be shared among the four of us. He flashed us a brilliant smile, “But of course!”

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The ravioli of rose veal (£8.95) was an interesting French take on an Italian creation. A thin slice of veal replaced the usual pasta; goat's curd and cavolo nero (or kale) laid within. The thickness of curd mixed with a slight sweetness of kale coupled well with the veal wrap's texture - something that had to be savoured whole.

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The roast saddle of welsh lamb (£16.95) came stuffed with a pickled green, which I didn't get a chance to ask the waiter what it was. The greens were pushed into the crevices of the lamb cut and the entire piece was held together by a string, which cutting into the lamb's skin was still discernible, before being sent to the oven. While the accompanying citrus mash went well with the lamb, I thought the copious amount of greens was an overkill and dominated the dish. No complaints about the roasted potato side that came in a neat Staub though.

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Les Deux Salons, a Will Smith and Anthony Demetre creation, reminded me every bit of a Parisian brasserie. It even came with a host that remained sullen and crossed arms throughout our meal. Formerly a Pitcher and Piano, Les Deux Salons is well positioned at the fringe of Covent Garden away from the throngs of tourists. While the first floor of Les Deux Salons was still empty when we left at around two in the afternoon, I suspect reservations for dinner is absolutely necessary for dinners.

Les Deux Salons on Urbanspoon

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