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Matthew Grant

Les Deux Salons

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Is it open? I thought soft, half price food, opening from next Monday 10th (I have a table booked for for lunch - so hopefully the paint will be dry).

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I left it too late to get a table for the soft opening so shall wait till things have calmed down. Looking forward to hearing what it's like.

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I just had a look around Les Deux Salons, in William IV street, just around the corner from Charing Cross station. I'm obviously a little biased but the place looks fantastic, the aim was to try and recreate a classic Parisian brasserie and to my mind, if looks are anything to go by, they have succeeded. It was much larger than I was anticipating, spread over two floors with a full tiled floor, lots of mirrors, a couple of private rooms. One of the more glamorous openings I have seen recently in London. If the food matches the room, and I don't doubt it will, this should be a big hit.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Nice room, very Bistrot; food similar with lots of classics. Menu a little more Racine than Arbutus, but one look at the rabbit loin with gnocchi and you know who's kitchen it is. We had a starter of snail and bacon pie which was fantastic, as was the egg and mushroom on toast, steak tartar comes as starter or main but staff hadn't worked that out yet, which kind of summed up front of house, which was ragged (this being day one it seemed to consist of a couple of old stagers with their pants on their heads and a bunch of teenagers having difficulty working out which table was which) but will be absolutely fine by next week - thoroughly recommend.

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London-eating.co.uk says that the head chef is Craig Johnson. Of course that would not exclude others from being in the kitchen... especially in the early days.

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Good meal at Les Deux Salons last night, the room is really good, great atmostphere and they still haven't opened upstairs yet. The menu is not fully operational yet but there is still plenty of choice, of particular note last night were the Snail and Bacon pie, Pot au Feu, a beautiful creme brulee and lemon tart. When they are fully running the menu is quite large. I need to go back for the double Veal chop cooked on the Josper grill. The burger looked decent and seemed to be very popular.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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There is lots on the menu to tempt me.

I like the sound of the Snail and Bacon Pie, plus the Hare, which is a rare appearance. Hope its on when I go.

The Plats Du Jour look very tempting too, as does the Bavette, Welsh Lamb, Burger, etc,etc,etc.

Its very well chosen, could eat my way through it.

Better stop now I'm salivating :biggrin:

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Les Deux Salons

October 14, 2010

It was one of those nights.

I’d worked late, everyone else in the office had evacuated (except for one, lone, brave sole who was manning the desk and arranging my drivers), and I was looking at a grim, cold London night.

But I had reservations for Arbutus.

So, I turned up on Frith Street hoping to catch up on things, only to find that Daniel and Allan were tied up at the soft opening of the new restaurant.

I moped for a bit, indulged in some very nice bread and a carafe of cab/merlot from Spain, when I had an epiphany.

“I’ve just had an epiphany. Can they fit me in down at the new place?”

A whisk, a bam, a waving of nonchalant digits at the wine I’d taken, and I was off to William IV (just turn left by the Portrait Gallery).

“Tell Caroline that Tom sent you and that you’re Peter Green.”

I can deal with the second part of that.

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The new place is quite an undertaking.

Two floors, with the two rooms split – ground and first. As tomorrow (today as I write this) would be the grand opening, they were still working the kinks out on the ground floor before opening the second.

The vision is to create a slice of Parisian bistro life in the Covent area. Terroire had done the lead work on this, with their wine bar across the street, but this was an essay at the grand French bistro/café, with the bang of glasses, the buzz of conversation, and more of the bang of glasses.

Okay, there might be a bit too much banging.

Anthony admitted that the lighting needed to be adjusted a bit. Take it down a notch so that it’s not quite so expository. As for the sound, I don’t think there’s much they can do. There’s not much opportunity in a design such as this to introduce baffles to subdue the acoustics. The first floor (which I did not see) is more velvet and other fabrics, which will subdue matters somewhat, while benefitting from the clatter below, so I’ll probably make reservations for the floor above next time I’m back.

I began solo, ordering a nice meusault on the advice of my waitress, and starting with the Herefordshire snail pie.

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Pleasant, a good crust. The snails were slightly lost, making their presence known through a rubbery announcement of their existence. But a pie is about being a pie. The ingredients are merely the bonbons under the wrapper.

Following this, there was a bit of confusion. A very pretty plate of veol ravioli came out, quite succulent with the fat carrying through from the pasta. But I just said “No, I’m having the sweet breads”. Sure enough they, likce the cat, came back and I was told they were a kindness from the kitchen.

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Who am I to say no?

Luckily, as I am always on the verge in such instances of doing a Mr. Creosote, the table next to me had adopted me. It’s a good thing to live in the world of foodies, say I.

This allowed me to share out the ravioli to some extent (one of our company did not do red meat…..pity).

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Following this were the sweetbreads, presented in a puff pastry. No concerns with this, as I’m always content with the texture and pleasant feel of the thyroid gland (has anyone ever had the pancreas, which the Penguin Guide to Food recommends as the more desireable of the choices for sweetbreads?)

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From here, we were on to the mains. I’d ordered the slow cooked ox cheeks, being the glutton that I am. I must admit, I was grinding to a halt at this point. But the meat was so moist, the onions sauted to that warm, sweet flavour, and the mash, well, just mashy. It’s a good dish, perhaps more Belgian to me than French, but that’s a quibbling point.

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Mind you, when my friend offered me her rabbit, I really was getting onto the edge of appetite (which would be a great name for a band).

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No, I foreswore dessert. At least until the point where the rum baba showed up, and the gravy boat of warm rum was unloaded.

I can always make a bit more room.

Armagnacs and calvados to finish, and it was a long finish. We talked for a few hours, joined by Allan, of Thailand, the travails of business in Covent Garden, and other matters of the restaurant trade ( my friends being far more knowledgeable of these matters……I’m always happy to be a fly on the wall).

Of course, talk of the critics reared its head. It’s a hard thing, the reataurant business, and a harder thing when you’re bringing online a massive two story bistro with seating for roughly 160 over two floors. There are teething issues (the lighting, the network, access to the credit card companies), but overall things were pretty good for what was an impressive opening.

As mentioned, it was a bit loud, but that’s the feel they want. I can see Yoonhi preferring this over Arbutus, but I might take Arbutus over Les Deux Salons. Mind, you, I’ll do what my wife says, every time.

It’ll be interesting to see how the staff shake out. They’ve drawn people in from the other venues, and they may stay here, or move back to Wild Honey and Arbutus. It’s yet to be seen. But one of Anthony’s best attributes is that he can hold good people with him, as many of the staff knew my friend from the Putney Bridge days.

A good bit of talk, and Anthony’s one of those people in the trade I like listening to.

By the time we coasted to a halt it was approaching two, and the restaurant was clear.

I had a horrible feeling that I needed to be up by four for the next flight.

Next – Hey, I’m already two years and roughly a dozen trips behind. You’ll get what’s next when it’s next

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Am I alone in thinking pictures spoil the pleasure to come? Now, instead of being surprised by what appears on my plate, I already have a murky and off-putting picture in my head.

Chefs spend a lot of time on presentation, to reduce their work to grubby little snaps insults their efforts. There is a reason why professional food photographers exist.

There is also the issue of general etiquette - yanking a camera out during a meal seems rude unless on your own and even then....

Additionally the whole idea of reducing a restaurant meal to some kind of gastro train spotting outing is surely wrong.

I know the bloggers obsessively photograph their meals and even Tweet while eating, but they are young and most do it because they can't write coherently. I would have thought this more mature forum would have gently dissuaded people from the practice?

Yes I know I don't have to look at the pictures, but images catch the eye whether one wants them to or not.

S

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I don't know if this forum software supports it, but a lot support a feature called 'hide tags' which let you hide the photos unless people want to see them, I'd love it if people used them on here, I loathe bad food photos, and there's loads on here of late.

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I for one like to see photos of restaurant food, it gives me an idea of the dishes and helps me select where to go (even if the photos are bad I still get an idea). My time (not to mention money :rolleyes: ) is limited and I have to make painful selections. Out of laziness I have stopped taking photos myself, but I am not in the least bothered by people at other tables taking photos of their dishes (there are other things that bother me).

This is just to say that I appreciate the informative photographic efforts of many posters around here, and I hope they keep coming.

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Those professional photographers who take pictures completely out of context of the meal, with the food artfully tweezered around, made to a recipe that may well have been altered to look more attractive or behave better under lights than taste good? I think I'd rather have take the odd grainy snap taken by a real customer.

And as for other people taking photographs, it's just like people complaining about people using mobile phones on trains - unless they are shouting/using a flash, it shouldn't affect other people in the slightest.

On saying that, the current obsession of having to photgraph/blog about everything that goes on in your life confuses me - I just don't get it. But it doesn't really bother me when other people want to.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Dining room - nice looks the part but nothing spectacular - also far too bright in my opinion. Some may also feel its a bit loud? It doesn't feel as French as Galvin for example.

When we were there we saw Anthony Demetre perhaps as you’d expect in its opening weeks and the quality of the food is being clearly given a good steer.

Dishes - Slow cooked ox cheeks, parsnip purée served in a shallow Staub sauté dish – all very nice. The cooking excellent and the beef was meltingly tender. A rather mean portion of parsnip puree and some carrots languished in the jus. My issue with the dish was how it was served. After being presented with the said staub you then have to decant the whole meal including a the said parsnip puree into a wide bistro bowl not nearly as easy as that sounds- in the end the whole just feels clumsy and overthought. Just plate the thing up in the kitchen or do it tableside but do away with all this fuss. Perhaps more importantly the tables aren’t big enough for all these dishes.

Sides – Gratin Dauphinois – I have eaten these with great please in Arbutus yet by comparison these are a shadow of their illustrious brothers here. A mini frying pan portion about 10mm deep at best and at £3.50 you might well feel a touch fleeced.

They have put a lot of guff in the media round their burger and its well cooked but it lack a bit of soul. Its nothing special distinctly average am afraid. That said I will be interested to hear reports about the ‘Josper charcoal Grill’ once that is up and running. (the menu was limited in the 1st week) That may change things.

Menu meant to be French brasserie – ok so you have the Andouillette de Troyes AAAAA, and I fully expect Mr Rayner to wax lyrical over that in the coming weeks but there are some obvious classics missing. Cornish plaice stuffed with shrimps and kaffir lime doesn't feel "French brasserie" the dish was perfectly cooked and elegant yet some might find the Lime too overpowering and it feels a step too far away from the brasserie. It would be more suited to Wild honey or Arbutus a Skate au beurre noir? or a sole meunière instead perhaps ?

Wine – a decent enough list and follows the successful formula of carafe’s or bottles. That said nothing mind blowing and a Rioja, Capitoso Bodegas Altanza, was thin and distinctly average. There are better out there.

Desserts were good floating islands, rum baba, Paris Brest with praline cream all tick the right boxes. The soft serve Ice cream seemed a little off piste but pleasant enough.

We also walked past a rather fine looking cheese selection (Mont d’or, Roquefort a Valancay) not cheap but maybe you are paying for quality.

Price - the restaurants in the group pride themselves on good value and you could in theory do a lunch here with wine for less than £35 a head however I'd say a typical spend is more in the £40 a head bracket. Once the critics get their teeth into this I expect mixed reviews.

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Its easy to get carried away on all of the hype surrounding a new opening. So its refreshing for once to be in at the ground floor so to speak.

Normally we are last around the trough, sometimes as much as a year after opening, as at Polpo , so its refreshing to arrive early and form my own opinion. Not that I would be swayed of course by anyone elses report, I'm very much " a spades a spade man " as people who know me will testify.

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The main ground floor room is dominated by a very inviting bar, its quite a cavernous space with lots of seating options, including some cosy corners to people watch and take in the atmosphere. I suspect the 150 covers (over two floors) could be extended if so desired as table spacing is not too cramped.

Meet and greet was good, starting at reception and carried through by staff including co-owner Will Smith, who's eagle eyed attention to detail was much in evidence.

Anthony Demetre was, as I expected, in the kitchen along with his head chef Craig Johnson. Anthony later assured us that he will be in residence every day until January at least. Of course that is the type of commitment you must make to ensure your "new baby" is nurtured. Its clear that this is a massive time and financial venture.

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Now be prepared for a bit of a marathon because we fairly ate our way through the menu, helped by a few compted dishes from the kitchen. The first (of four) starters was Salt Cod brandade (£8.95) served with sauteed squid, and a crispy cromesqui (croquette) filled with an erupting parsley filling.

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Next up was Ravioli of rose veal (£8.95) with a stuffing of goats curd and cavelo nero accompanied by a tasty jus.

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I lusted after this dish as soon as I read the description Herefordshire snail and bacon pie (£7.95) a well seasoned (not too salty) pot of comfort food, filled with plump snails and a tasty bacon infused sauce, oh and a nice pastry topping. Fantastic, a lick your lips revalation.

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Warm sweet onion tart (£5.95) was compted by the kitchen (or front of house ?) and I can understand why they wanted me to try it, its F A B, with the crumbled goats cheese and figs its a marriage made in heaven, and its very reasonably priced too.

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She who must be obeyed (sometimes) chose the Saddle of Rabbit (£17.50) which was served with pumpkin gnocci and hazelnuts. It was declared as "glorious".

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My main was the undoubted star of the show Pork belly petit sale, (£16.95) a wonderful bounty of all the flavours that I hold dear. Carrots, celery, puy lentils. I adore puy lentils which is surprising as I never cook them at home, perhaps because I never seem to get the flavour into them which Mr D has here. The pork was the tastiest this year, the buttery fat, as smooth as silk was to die for. A big hunk of garlic sausage took the taste buds off in another direction, by way of a pleasant addition not a distraction.

As butch as it looks, ladies, go for it you will not be disappointed.

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Full to near bursting point (I know its a disgrace) we had to try at least one of the desserts and after much debate decided on the Pan Perdu with coxs apples and a smattering of raisins. (£5.50) Its good to see the kitchen support english produce it would have been easy to opt for " french" golden delicious however cox's have far better eating quality so were more than appropriate. Also worth a mention is the pricing of the desserts, all at £5.50, a not too greedy a mark up.

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Perhaps because I had mentioned to Will Smith that I was a bit miffed with myself we had missed the soft opening (50% off food) he generously presented the other dish that we mulled over before our decision on the pan perdu.

Glazed Lemon Tart with creme chantilly a light as a feather (thankfully) end to an extremelly pleasant meal.

As it has been over two weeks since our visit some of the heavy hitters from the newspapers have tried the place for themselves. Their reviews are here, here, and, here ensuring more than ever that this place will be a resounding success.

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The proud parents Anthony Demetre and Will Smith with their new baby in the background.

Like any foody would be, I was thrilled that Anthony took time to come out of the kitchen to have a natter with us. We were joined at the table by Will and talked about mainly, well yes you guessed, food, food and more food,and France, a subject close to Francophile Demetre's heart, but also about motors, business etc, etc. Mostly of course blokey sort of stuff but my wife was quite happy with that thankfully.

What shone out from these guys was their down to earth approach to the restaurant business, and their wholehearted commitment to customer satisfaction, being more than willing to take on board any constructive criticism. Needless to say we had none.

We paid for most of the above, the bill for a lot of food including an entry level (no upselling here) bottle of wine was from memory about £87 which included 12.5% service.

As you may have gathered we loved it. :biggrin:

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I went there in December and being a huge fan of Arbutus and Wild Honey I was looking forward to my visit. The menu and concept has a slight Woolsey look to it but it has a far more 'French' feel / menu.

I was so disappointed! The food was ok without being up to the standard of the other two. The service was dreadful. Little things were just wrong. For example the plates were not warmed (they were cold) which meant that the food got cold quickly. The pasta starter (a really nice ravioli of veal and fresh goats curd) was cold by the second mouthful. The other starter, a well executed, salt cod with young squid was full of large bones that had not been taken out when the cod was mashed. No apology with a waiter who clearly didn't want to be there just shrugging his shoulders.

All in all a great concept which didn't work. I hope it was just teething problems and they sort it out.

Somewhat worrying I did email them with these comments and no acknowledgement let alone a reply. I held off posting this hoping for a reply so I could say they'd apologised but they are clearly to busy to care about customer service :sad:

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Thats a real shame, because above all else they pride themselves on customer service. I was assured on our visit that they take on board all comments, good or bad, so I am a bit bemused that you have not had a reply.

I know they follow egullet. You may just get a reply now, that is if they still have your e-mail.

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Thats a real shame, because above all else they pride themselves on customer service. I was assured on our visit that they take on board all comments, good or bad, so I am a bit bemused that you have not had a reply.

I know they follow egullet. You may just get a reply now, that is if they still have your e-mail.

Given the superb meals and service I had at the other two I was also amazed. I did wonder if the email just goes through to the reception and they decided to delete it. I had thought about resending it to Arbutus and ask them to pass it on but never got round to it.

A few weeks later I was thinking of going to Wild Honey with a couple of friends and opted to go elsewhere as I was so 'annoyed' at a lack of reply.

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That is a real shame.

Both times I've visited the service was fantastic, couldn't fault it.

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I went on Saturday - we were going to the theatre in Drury Lane at 7.30, and I reasoned that a booking for 5.30 would allow us plenty of time...

Firstly, we loved the place, and the food was gorgeous. Mr PSB & I had the pre-theatre menu - fabulous and fabulous value. Mini-PSB [11 3/4] had the terrine from the main menu, plus as a main the snail pie ( he's a big fan of snails, and found these a little disappointing - too chewy - the only fault that any of us found with the food). He & I then shared a Paris-Brest which was comme il faut. The main waitress and other staff were lovely - bright, frendly, etc.

However - there were so many delays it was laughable. Every. Blooming. Course. Was late. Plus Mr PSB's rabbit terrine came without toast - even that took 10 mins to arrive. We said we had a theatre to get too - made no difference. In the end we gobbled down the Gâteau Paris-Brest, ignoring the coffees that arrived as we were leaving, although we'd chased two or three times. Oh and they originally couldn't find my coat when we left, and had mislaid my scarf. We covered the trip to Drury Lane in 5 mins and got there just in time, ie it had taken almost 2 hours.

I suspect that we were very unlucky - maybe having a starter as a main threw them. Everyone around us seemed to be getting served pretty promptly. When the food is that good I will forgive almost anything - but I don't think I'll go there pre-theatre again.

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Despite my last post, I did go for the pre-theatre recently - this occasion wasn't time-critical, we just wanted to eat early. And it was smashing.

The service was really good - friendly, warm, and efficient. The food was just as good as before, and came with the right gaps.

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Went there on Friday 20th May, was Pre Opera - ENO being just round the corner makes this place very handy. Arrived at 6pm and the four of us had three courses from the a la carte and let them know that we had to be quick. Service was quick and efficent, food was great and we even had time for coffee and were out by 7:20pm


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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So this is a really short notice post but I thought I'd give it a shot. I have reservations at both Arbutus and Les Deux Salons tonight and I am wondering which one to hit tonight. I'm thinking that whichever one I don't go to I will go to the other one on Sunday (provided I like tonight's meal). So any thoughts, which one should be first?

Thanks.

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