It almost goes without saying, that so much of what happens in London, happens underground. How many restaurants have I eaten in, where the dining areas have been below street level, or theatres where the stalls and the stage are in the bowels of the earth! Of course, the Underground itself is another world where so much goes on under the streets and buildings of the capital.
So it came as no surprise to know that the restaurant where I ate on my last visit to London, was underground. Indeed I had first read about this restaurant here on WordPress from a fellow blogger, and had made a note then that I must try to make a reservation at some point in the future. My fellow blogger’s post described the establishment admirably, how it was home not just to the dining area, but also to Le Bar Américain, and a small theatre called The Crazy Coqs.
What my fellow blogger did not do was prepare me, and my friends, for the view that awaited us at the foot of the stairs. Entering through a small café area at street level, halfway between Piccadilly Circus and the Piccadilly Theatre on Sherwood Street, one descends to the main foyer, and is immediately transported to another world, not just another world underground, but another city, Paris, here in the centre of London. The decor, the pictures, the signs and then the view through to the Brasserie, say to you that you are no longer in London, because a grand Parisian brasserie, with Beaux Arts and Art Deco interior has been transported to the heart of London. I have to confess that my breath was taken away by the view. It is just NOT what I was expecting to see under Piccadilly Circus!
Then, to enter the brasserie, and to be shown to our table by waiters dressed in true Parisian style, one is almost overcome by the size and grandeur of the room with its marble, its mirrors and its lighting, where over two hundred people can be seated. The place was buzzing, and by this time we were really looking forward to our dinner.
It is easy to write about the building and the style, but we were here to eat. What good is a stylish restaurant where the food is no good? Here, the menu, again in true Parisian brasserie style was extensive but not too expensive. Indeed the simple two course Prix Fixe set menu is available for £9.95, and the three course Formule with a choice of main course, and a glass of wine will cost you £19.75. There is also a full à la carte menu, with a different dish of the day for every day of the week. One thing that this restaurant does not lack, is choice.
In the end we all decided to start with Soupe à l’Oignon, (Onion soup) what better in a French Brasserie, and we were not disappointed. Our main courses were all different, mine was Filet de Saumon, Crème de Poireaux (Salmon with creamed leeks), one of my friends chose Truite aux Amandes (whole roast trout with almonds), while the other chose the dish of the day which was Cassoulet de Canard (Duck Cassoulet). All were excellent, and served without too long a delay.
One of my favourite French desserts is Ile Flottante (Floating Island), which is a soft meringue floating in a bowl of Crème Anglaise or custard, over which is sprinkled nuts, and other tasty morsels. It was the first dessert I ever had on my very first visit to Paris many years ago, and I have never had a proper one in England, until this one. It was delicious!
Following an afternoon at the theatre, for two short hours in the evening we had been “back in Paris”, or so it seemed! Then it was back up those stairs to the other world above ground, and the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus, before making our way to Euston and our train back to Coventry; but the memory of that other world underground, will remain with me for some time to come!