One step into Les Deux Salons transports you to Paris, more specifically an oldy worldy Parisian Brasserie. The team behind Arbutus and Wild Honey, Anthony Demetre and Will Smith have opened a new French Brasserie in Covent Garden. No expense spared to transform this old bar into an aged French Brasserie, with antiqued mirrors, well spaced tables and all. The restaurant is on 2 floors with 250 covers, which is the largest venture for the team in London to date.
A couple of Tweets were sent around when bookings opened and I secured a lunch booking on the first day, as it was the only day that my dining companion was free for lunch. On the day, we were the 3rd table to arrive and one of the first customers to be guinea pigs to test out their new team.
The first thing we noticed was that there were a lot of staff hovering around, looking bewildered. Where we were seated, we couldn’t help but watch the confusion of the staff bringing the food out of the kitchen and staff on the floor working out the table numbers. We found out later that they were totally overstaffed on that first day as most the staff were new and needed training. As the lunch crowd drifted in, it was surprisingly not full as they kept the crowds down to allow the kitchen to get up to speed. We were told that it was all hands on deck in the kitchen as well with several chefs including Anthony in the kitchen that day.
We kicked off with the Lamb sweetbreads, “Bouchee a la reine” (£8.95) and the highly recommended Crisp boneless chicken wings, fresh macaroni winter savoury (7.50). The sweetbreads was a step back in time as I haven’t had one of these since I was working in Paris and it was rich and delicious, rather generous for a starter portion. The chicken wings, in an unusual combination, was nicely crisped and well balanced with the greens and pasta.
While the starters arrived promptly, it took another 45 minutes for the main courses to arrive, after the table next to us had eaten, paid and left. A mention to one of the staff tranplanted from another of their restaurant that the staff were a bit confused got this reply, “That is why there is a 50% discount on food this week”. Unnecessary, as we were totally aware that this is the first service and expected teething problems. Besides that one episode, service was rather enthusiastic.
Mains were tender, melting Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks with parsnip puree (£17.95), very rich in flavour, totally delicious and Roast Halibut with Razor Clams (21.50), a nice way to prepare razor clams, could have had just a plate of those by itself.
To finish, we had the Glazed Lemon Tart with Creme Chantilly and ordered the bill and coffee at the same time.
The dessert and bill arrived and was paid and the coffee making guy had still not received the order to make the coffee. It did eventually arrive after much prompting and was very good too. We also spotted this oozing brie on the cheese board on the way out, something to remember for next time.
The erratic service is forgivable as it’s their first service as the food is spot on. On the menu are several Plat du Jours (plural?) which I will be back to try – Wednesdays “Pot au Feu”, Thursdays Cassoulet and Friday Bouillabaisse. They also offer a 3 course Theatre Supper for £15.50 which I expect is going to be very popular in Theatreland. Our bill for the meal and a few glasses of wine, came up to about £60 after the 50% discount, and unless they introduce a lunch menu, it is bit rich as a regular lunch spot.