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L’Escargot in Greek Street, Soho
Complimentary Champagne when lunching or dining at this legendary restaurant
You remember L’Escargot? Of course you do! It is a legend, one of London’s most hitherto fashionable and well-established restaurants, where in times past you might find Coco Chanel sipping Champagne, or John Gielgud, or Mick Jagger, and where you will still find the kind of French food we know and love, together with friendly service and general bonhomie, surrounded by French brasserie-style mirrored walls, chandeliers and original French art (think Miro and Chagall).
History is ingrained within every fibre of L’Escargot—its own and that of Soho itself, its heydays encompassing the Fifties, the Swinging Sixties and the Eighties.
In fact L’Escargot traces its origins back to 1896, when Paris restaurateur Georges Gaudin opened the then named Le Bienvenu at 19 Greek Street, with a snail farm in the basement, his idea being to be the first British restaurant to serve fresh snails. So successful was this idea that in 1927, the year in which Charles Lindbergh made the first transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, the restaurant moved to larger premises at number 48. It was renamed L’Escargot Bienvenu, and the rest is indeed history.
Greek Street legend has it that Maurice Chevalier adopted his straw hat after seeing Max Beerbohm dining at L’Escargot wearing a boater.
Today a plaster bust of Monsieur Gaudin, riding a snail, with the motto ‘Slow but Sure’, still hangs above the restaurant in Greek Street, a much photographed part of every Soho visitor itinerary—but it is what lies inside these hallowed portals that is capturing most serious attention these days. For L’Escargot has new owners, led by Brian Clivaz, the man who recreated and re-energised Langan’s Brasserie. He is doing the same with L’Escargot, refreshing the décor and employing a new head chef, Oliver Lesnik, who worked with Angela Hartnett at the Connaught before moving on to Auberge du Lac, White’s Club, and the Cadogan.
As to L’Escargot’s menus, snails are still a speciality; they come by the half-dozen, served with garlic and parsley, to general acclaim. The rest of the menu changes seasonally but you will always find L’Escargot’s all-time French favourites, the rich and steaming Coq au Vin, creamy Moules Marinières and spot-on Steak Frites, plus a sublime Crème Brûlée which the great chef Pierre Koffmann (he of three Michelin stars and La Tante Claire fame) reportedly said was the best he had ever tasted: praise indeed.
There is an excellent, reasonably-priced wine list starting at less than £20 for a bottle of Languedoc-Rousillon Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc and including some well-priced, well-chosen Champagnes, Bordeaux, Burgundies and Rhônes.
Wines by the glass are good too—£6.50 for a glass of 2013 Sauvignon Blanc or a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot. Champagne by the glass starts with Laurent Perrier at £12 (which for you as a Club Member is complimentary when you lunch or dine). As for the cocktails, try L'Escargot Flip made with Hennessy Cognac shaken with limoncello, sugar and egg, or Ooh La La, combining gin, sloe gin, pineapple, cranberry and fresh lime, both at £8.50; or French 75, with gin, lemon, sugar and Champagne at £11.50.
You can enjoy the à la carte menu (Monday to Saturday, 11am to midnight) or a set menu (served from 5pm-7pm or 9pm to midnight), currently offering three courses for £21.50 including VAT, which is already excellent value—and to add to the general gaiety of the occasion, through our special arrangement with Brian Clivaz our Members receive a complimentary glass of Champagne when lunching or dining at L'Escargot: the perfect way to toast the rebirth of a legend.
Prices above are correct at time of going to press.
A £2 cover charge and a discretionary 14.5% service charge will be added to the bill.
Mon-Sat, 11am to midnight
48 Greek Street
Tel: TEL 020 7439 7474
Members and their guests receive a complimentary glass of Champagne at lunch or dinner.
To make your reservations, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
11 PRINCES STREET, MAYFAIR, LONDON W1B 2LJ
Telephone: 020 7399 2960