Cigalon, Chancery Lane
If you live in Central London all your life, you come to realise it is not that big a place. I’m talking about the West End. Soho, Covent Garden and Mayfair. You can easily walk from Regent Street to Aldwych for lunch in the time it will take the jury to decide as to whether Anders Brevik is a guilty man; approximately 15 minutes or so.
However, when it comes to eating out and grabbing something for lunch, we are creatures of habit. Most people venture to the closest Pret or Boots for their weekday sandwich, and never care to venture far from where they know.
Chancery Lane is a part of London that is ignored by the tourists who congregate in Covent Garden, and bypassed by the media set and majority of law firms, who call Holborn home. Cigalon is located on Chancery Lane, at the Fleet Street end. It is only a 5-minute power walk from The Delaunay, and the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden piazza, yet this part of town couldn’t be any different.
This provencal cum Corsican restaurant is one of the most beautiful dining rooms in London, and I don’t say this lightly. The décor has a Nicole Farhi feel to it, and reminds me of a chic townhouse you might find tucked away in the hilltop village of Saint Paul de Vence. The lighting is exquisite. The additional feature of circular lavender coloured booths in the middle of the room splits the restaurant floor perfectly: stopping it from being a standard sea of tables and chairs.
Olive trees have been placed in the room, as well as a subtle soundtrack of cicadas playing in the background. These touches could almost verge on Vegas tacky, but it is done with taste and all melts into the background of the whole affair, just so. Restaurant host Yann Osouf is instantly recognisable in his funky specs that wouldn’t look out of place in the Tour de France. When I walk into a restaurant and recognise the face of a front of house from the Corbin & King school of restaurateuring, I breathe a small sigh of relief. Seeing an old Wolselyian is like finding out your hotel when abroad serves English breakfast tea.
Yann Osouf, Cigalon
We started with a dish that should be mandatory when eating at Cigalon, the nicoise salad. They produce the confit of albacore tuna on site: a smack in the face to John West. Meat chunks of tuna sit amongst crisp lettuce leaves and tomatoes, anchovies and a perfectly boiled egg. This quality all for £8.00. I have a personal list that has, in my opinion, the best value dishes in London, and this nicoise sits proudly on it. A seasoned slab of foie gras was the opposite end of the food spectrum compared to the nicoise, but the pan fried foie had the right consistency: silky as.
Seasoned Foie Gras
To follow, a rack of lamb arrived: the meat perfectly pink. The special of the day was a pork chop with a side of olive mash. Give me a slice of pig on a plate any day. The chop was well seasoned, and had a good outline of fat that kept the meat moist and added to the flavour. Desserts followed the theme to the rest of the meal in the sense that they were tidy, cleanly executed plates of food. The honeycomb with salted caramel ice cream was a perfect cap to a dinner for anyone with a sweet tooth. The wine list is accommodating and the house wine, at £18.00 a bottle, allows even the trainee solicitors in the neighbouring area to be able to afford a drink with dinner.
Grilled Rack of Lamb, Basil Purée & Caponata
Grilled Pork Chop, Olive Mash
Chestnut & “Farigoule” Cake, Praline Ice Cream & Honeycomb
Warm Black Chocolate & Pastis Tart, Pear Sorbet
Next time you are planning to go out to eat and can’t decide where, I urge you to think of Cigalon. It may not be your chosen location but you will most definitely feel as though you’ve arrived home.
All Photos (c) Paul Winch-Furness
115 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PP
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Mon – Fri: 12 noon – 10pm
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