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L’Escargot review: Fine French dining in the heart of Soho

Truly, it's the best restaurant in Soho

By Alastair James

L'Escargot's Greek Street exterior (Image: Provided)

Arriving early for my 7:30pm reservation at L’Escargot I ask if it’s ok to sit at the bar until my table is ready. The staff are more than happy to oblige, and I’m escorted past the early-bird dinner crowd and directed upstairs to the top floor of the Georgian townhouse.

Here I find The Snail Club, a quiet and veritable paradise well secluded from the throngs enjoying a post-work tipple in the streets of Soho. As well as its privacy, the bar’s chilled-out vibe comes thanks to luscious green vegetation, plush seating, and ambient music. All in all the perfect start to a Thursday night dinner out that beckons an early start to the weekend.

Recognised as London’s oldest French restaurant, L’Escargot is a slice of fine French dining in the heart of Soho. It also bears the crown of the best restaurant in Soho, and after my three-course meal, it’s easy to see why.

Back downstairs, I’m seated in the front room of the main restaurant which offers a view of a humming Greek Street. As acoustic and jazzy versions of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ play overhead, it isn’t long after sitting down amid the delicate and refined opulence that a chilled glass of Henriot Brut ‘Souverain’ is placed in front of me, elevating the sense of luxury.

Soon after one of many delightful and charming servers comes to take my order. I start with the bread plate, made up of a crunchy white baguette, well-seasoned savoury focaccia, and a cheesy-looking swirl. I barely make it through two pieces before my French onion soup is placed politely in front of me.

The soup is strong, thanks in no small part to the mature cheese toasted on top which packs a flavourful punch. For my main, I opt for the confit duck, which comes served with white beans as well as tarragon. The duck is tender, the meat falling right off the bone, and topped with a satisfyingly crisp layer of skin. As a side, I go for the dauphinoise potatoes which are a thing of dreams. Thin slices of soft potato layered with cream and cheese. Delectable. For the fans of the restaurant’s namesake, snails come in two portion sizes – half dozen (£18) and a dozen (£36). They prove popular with my fellow patrons and are evidently a draw.

Suitably well-fed already, I’m offered the pudding menu and it feels impolite to not at least look at it. Several options catch my eye but the soufflé au chocolat comes highly recommended and so there is really very little option. It is as decadent as you can imagine. Soft, spongy soufflé that practically melts in the mouth. It is richly chocolatey but not overly so. It also comes served with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream planted in the middle with the whole dish being smothered in a smooth, velvety chocolate sauce. Every mouthful is divine. The pudding feels like a hug, gentle and comforting, and the perfect end to the night.

L’Escargot is a restaurant that comes with a lot of history. You can feel it in the building around you. It also more than lives up to its accolades and is well worth a visit next time you’re in town.

Make your reservation here.