Les 110 de Taillevent at Cavendish Square in London, is a newly opened outpost of a famous Parisian restaurant of the same name. Before you ask, Taillevent does not `mean’ anything – it is simply the name of a legendary French Chef. The `110’ part of the name is explained in the subsequent paragraphs.
We had heard wonderful things about this place and had made a booking. On telling our friends of our plans, Mr. & Mrs. Friend Philosopher & Guide [whom you would remember from previous posts], and, the Doctor Businesswoman and her sister in law all decided to join us.
This is a formal very French Brasserie with classic French food. Dark heavy Velvet curtains are at the door. The inside is wood panelled, with large paintings adorning the walls. The outer section of the room has a bar and a few tables where you could have a glass of wine accompanied by, what we in India would call, bar snacks. The inner room is the dining room.
What is unique about this restaurant is that it offers 110 wines by the glass! Now that is a lot by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, the restaurant carries some 350 wines, and a third of them are offered by the glass.
The menu is simple once you get the concept. Each dish is set out in a single line one below the other. There are 9 starters, some 12 main courses, 3 Cheeses and 9 Desserts. Alongside each dish are 4 recommended wines in 4 price points – under 8 GBP, under 14 GBP, under 20 GBP and over 20 GBP. The wines are all types ranging from Sake [which is strictly not a wine] to Champagnes, Reds, Whites and Roses. These wines are available in either a Homeopathic size of 70 ml or a more substantial 125 ml. You have the choice or freedom of mixing your wines, i.e. ignoring the suggestions, you could not have a wine at all, or you could stick to a bottle. There are no rules and no compulsions.
This was going to be fun. The wine choices reminded me of Tapas – tasting portions or small plates – but in liquid form. It took the people a while to order. Finally all the ordering was done and we settled down to a good meal.
The food looked really good. I tasted only mine, but asking around the table and looking at the empty plates, it was evident that everyone liked the food.
The dishes that really stood out were Pate En Croute. This is a really old style French dish and is a labour of love to make at home. It is very popular in restaurants. Chicken livers, Goose & Duck Livers, Pork, Mushroom and often minced pork and veal are combined with seasoning and encased in puff pastry. This is then baked and topped with a jelly made with Madeira and Meat Stock. This is served with Cornichons. Absolutely delicious and fantastic to look at. HRH The Queen of Kutch devoured every last morsel.
The Crab Remoulade with Fennel & Dill which I had was sensational. Remoulade is another classic old French dish. Mayonnaise is added to Crabmeat and combined. This was served layered, in a Martini glass – Caviar at the bottom, Crab in the centre and topped with a flavoured Mayonnaise. This was cold and stunning.
HRH The Queen of Kutch decided to stay with Puff Pastry for her main course. Another classic. Vol au Vent with Lamb Sweetbreads and Crayfish. The dish looked stunning and HRH The Queen of Kutch said it tasted stunning too.
Some of the other food ordered.
Duck Breast with Orange
Tenderloin with Marrow
The two outstanding desserts are worth mentioning. The dark Chocolate Mousse was the best I have had. Again, without sounding like a broken record, Chocolate Mousse is very old school. Here they modernised it. You got a plate of cold Chocolate Mousse. On this was placed a Quenelle of dark Chocolate ice-cream and a hot rich Chocolate sauce poured all over. Rich, indulgent and very adult.
Rhubarb is in season. This was a dessert of poached Rhubarb with Meringue. Looks gorgeous.
In balance, this was some seriously good food, well presented and tasty. It would not win prizes for being modern or innovative. This is well made old style classic food. The ability to taste myriad wines without having to buy a whole bottle is wonderful. This is a restaurant we will certainly return to.