Looking to get away from the hustle & bustle of Soho? A lovely restaurant minutes away from the gaping touristic maw that is Leicester square calls out. Its name? If you’ve read the title you can probably guess it’s Le Garrick. A French restaurant that has withstood the changing surroundings of the theatre district for over 30 years. Greeted at ground level, we are directed down a spiral staircase into the catacomb-like heart of the restaurant.
Cavernous, intimate, authentic. Le Garrick is illuminated by candlelight and adorned with pictures and paintings that give the restaurant a homely feel and augment the cosiness, reminiscent of Parisian eateries.
To start, we got several dishes to really explore the breadth of French cooking. First, a foie gras served with toasted brioche and chutney. The foie gras was rich and tender, and combined with a sweet, fluffy brioche & a wonderfully fruity chutney produce a taste that is – formidable.
Following on from the foie gras we had Noix de St Jacques – seared scallops with salad. While they were nicely cooked and delicious, we felt they were slightly overpowered by an unconventional salad dressing of rocket and red pepper. To finish our “Tour des Starters” we had Escargots de Bourgogne, snails cooked in parsley & garlic butter to really test the authenticity, and the highly recommended Cassolette de calamar à la plancha au piment d’espelette, or calamari for short. It was my first time eating escargots and I was pleasantly surprised. The calamari definitely justified its high praise, they were flawlessly cooked and did not have a rubbery texture. However I must give top marks to the sauce the calamari was served in. It took me a while to pinpoint the flavour but my dining guest informed me I was tasting ginger along with the coriander and chilli, which while dominant, maximised the flavour of the calamari. This was all served with a glass of chilled Bergerac recommended to complement our starters, and I am not afraid to admit I had a little moment in the restaurant as I absolutely adore Bergerac and it brought back so many memories of my own stint living in France.
As we moved onto our mains we had a glass of Bordeaux to complement our meal recommended by the attentive and knowledgeable staff at Le Garrick. I had the filet mignon served with potatoes. The meat was tender and delicious, and the potatoes were close to perfection, completed by a great sauce!
My (French) dining guest had the Confit de Canard et ses haricots verts – Duck confit with green beans. This duck was so very tender, melt-in-your-mouth amazing! Having earlier scoffed at my moment with the Bergerac, she had her own moment with this duck and declared that it was like being at home for Christmas in Paris!
For dessert we again decided to sample a large selection. First came the cheese board. Again selected by the expert staff at Le Garrick, we had Camembert au calvados, Reblochon & Vacherin cheeses served with bread and chutneys. While all 3 cheeses were creamy & delectable, each cheese had its own charm. For me, the camembert takes pride of place at the top of the ladder.
Continuing our voyage through the dessert menu we had a Fondant au chocolat, Tarte au citron & Crème brûlée. The chocolate fondant was beautiful! Perfectly made, and served with a scoop of ice cream that gave a nice cooling juxtaposition to the warm fondant. The lemon tart tasted nice with a simultaneous sweet and bitter make up, partly due to the fact the rind is incorporated in the mix. I did not care for that inclusion while my date thought otherwise – it all comes down to personal preference! Finally, the crème brûlée. So creamy, so dreamy, it was the perfect end to a wonderful evening. I thought the top had a nice crackle to it but she thought it could be stiffer – again it’s a personal preference thing!
My companion summed up the meal perfectly – from the food & drink, to the ambience and surroundings, it was like we were transported into the divine quarters of Paris. While the restaurant is at the pulsating heart of theatre land, escape the hustle and bustle on ground level, stay a while for the intimate atmosphere, let time slow around you as you enjoy a sublime meal and remember the phrase “fais péter la poire” – you never know what may end up in front of you!
10-12 Garrick Street, London, WC2E 9BH