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Founded in 1927, L’Escargot has an illustrious history, but the twenty-first century hasn’t been very kind to this landmark Soho French restaurant. Taken over by new owners in February 2014, they have yet to make wholesale improvements to rescue it from years of neglect. On our visit, the fittings looked scuffed; a huge crack in a ceiling cornice gaped above diners’ heads and the boxes of a wine delivery still blocked the entrance hall for most of the lunch service.

What has changed, though, is the chef, Oliver Lesnik, and the menu, which is retro bourgeois cooking that genuflects to the era of Escoffier. This style of old-fashioned French food owes much to the time Lesnik spent cooking at the Connaught in the days when it was all silver cloches, pâtés and gelées. Sole was turned into a mousse, then into quenelles which sat in a soupy lobster sauce, like three blind mice who’d taken a wrong turn into  the stockpot. Fussy dishes aren’t always good dishes.

There is much to admire in Lesnik’s technical skills; a pissaladière (baked onion tart) was beautifully presented with glazed pastry and latticed anchovies, and a chicken liver pâté with toasted brioche was sublime. But a heavy hand was apparent in the seasoning of all our savoury dishes, and some of them, such as that lobster sauce, or the coq au vin, were richer than a Bordeaux vintner.

We were assured by a representative of the restaurant that by our visit in March 2014, it was already up to full steam; we can’t help thinking it might be worth waiting a few more months, until the new management have smoothed a few details out, such as fixing that plaster to the ceiling properly.

Venue name: L'Escargot
Address: 48 Greek Street
Opening hours: noon - 4.00pm Mon-Fri; 5.00pm - midnight Mon-Sat.
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road tube
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £110.
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Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Genie P

I attended the Fentimans pop-up bar at L'Escargot this week on a Time Out recommendation! The rabbit warren that is  L'Escargot meant it was in a quiet area, round the corner and out of sight but the room was like a garden! Flowers and plants everywhere popping out of a bath and a beautiful skylight!

The coctails were, obviously, using Fentimans but were quirky and delicious, also quite strong...! My favourite was either the Fearless Fun or the Lillet Rose, each very different depending on how much you want to forget...!

It felt like I was going back in time stepping into L'Escargot, a really fun night and someone I'll definitely look to go to again soon!

St John B

Highly recommended. You may think this is an old school establishment but it's not. It's a classic restaurant that everybody should try. The food is excellent as it the wine list and service. Definitely going back! 

Warwick W
Staff Writer

Entertained clients at this Soho institution and what a venue! I'd heard the good, the bad and the ugly about this stalwart riding on the back of a celebrated heritage.

Have to say, it was great. The staff were attentive, there was a good buzz for a Wednesday Lunch time. The snails were delicious, as was my salt beef for main. 

Really impressed and will be back again for sure.

paul b

First visit yesterday , great food especially the mini sausages and the espresso martini weren't bad either 

Charly Lester
moderatorStaff Writer

Went to L'Escargot for a private members club party run by Inner Circle - LOVED the venue - incredible space, awesome decor, and a really unique spot.  Definitely worth a visit.

Staff WriterStaff Comp

My restaurant of choice in Soho. The owners have now completed an incredible makeover scaling back what used to be a cavernous dining space to become a more intimate dining experience and a super cool private members club upstairs. I love the Snails dripping in a fabulous garlic butter sauce and love the classic well cooked menu. Try to get a look at the club if you can Salon Noir is the place to be but if you're feeling frisky check out Salon Rouge.