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.
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.|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.4 / 5
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I cannot recommend stepping into this place enough, as we discovered this not only this great area at the back of the restaurant, where we had lunch, chilli & crab on toast with spinach on the side, but had a quick peak up stairs, to discover room after room for events that were going on, and finally the best on is the bar at the very top, hmm I thinking party time, as especially as its my birthday oh so soon!
We had a lovely time at L'Escargot. The food was delicious and the decor great. No sign of ceiling cracks. We had a Chateaubriand which was delicious and a Grand Marnier souffle to die for. The snails were just as I wanted very rich garlicky and hot ! Excellent well priced wine list. The staff were very friendly and we met George the Manager who was charming. We will definitely come back.
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!
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.
First visit yesterday , great food especially the mini sausages and the espresso martini weren't bad either
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.