If someone were to ask me ‘what’s your perfect restaurant’, my immediate riposte would be ‘doesn’t exist’. However if pressed on the matter and with a bit of thought behind it i’d probably mention something about this mythical establishment having wine, yes plenty of wine, and.. great - nay - outstanding service. It goes without saying that the food should be worth the detour and of course nothing too extortionate.
At which point this all starts to look a bit dull, because this is exactly what most people over the age of 30 who have had the chance to enjoy a decently cooked meal would also ask for - but could never find it. Instead we end up at Nando’s again or (worse) desperately parsing Deliveroo for the third time this week.
Well you’ll be quite pleased to hear that it won’t be Deliveroo again this Friday as Les 110 de Taillevent very closely fits the description of ‘perfect restaurant’. So good in fact it *almost* knocks Noble Rot from its perch.
Here’s the basics. The restaurant is the ‘petite soueur’ of revered Parisian institution Taillevent - an venerable establishment which over its 70 year history has launched the careers of many a legendary chef (a St.John of Paris if you will).
The rather elongated name involving the number 110 references the fact that the restaurant is bloody serious about wine, offering 110 of them by the glass - a concept which carries over from the big sister in Paris (so far so perfect). Each wine is assigned a pairing with a dish on the menu. Obviously there’s not 110 dishes, instead there are four wine matches for each dish, all at graduating price points (roughly £8, £14, £,20 and over £20).
When dining at a restaurant such as Les 110, it makes sense to go with the classics. Cornish crab rémoulade neatly crowned with paper thin slices of radish was an excellent start. This, a recreation of one of the famous dishes from the original Taillevent, was a bold statement - a decadently rich rémoulade, broken by the freshness of the Loire Sauvignon - a masterful match.
Our other starter, Scottish Langoustine Tartare was similarly impressively plated - a balanced, symmetrical plate dotted with caviar and painted with a luminescent stroke of sauce.
Glasses whisked away and replenished and we were straight into mains. These two polar, but equally delicious expressions of Pinot comprised of Felton Rd Cornish Point - an energetic wine showcasing the deeper smokier side of this varietal and a Cote de Nuits-Villages from Domaine Julien 2013, lighter on the palate but still showing very well at such a young age.
Accompanying this fine liquid, our mains were composed of a series of French classics. Lobster served two ways is another Taillevent classic - Part 1 - a meaty chunk of roasted tail with a swipe of butternut squash, a thick bisque poured overtop and Part 2 - a consommé with a single lobster raviole and medley of vegetables. In keeping with their tres French vibe, sauces are poured at the table, something of a signature which they manage to pull off with no ceremony, just class.
The second set of mains were an attempt to finish us. A hearty veal chop served off the bone (they’d asked if we wanted to keep the bone and I very nearly agreed) with butternut squash puree and yet more magnificent jus. Despite the generous portion, the plate returned totally clean.
To finish came two show stopping desserts which demonstrate some real talent in the pastry section. Calamansi lemon, passion fruit, meringue, shortbread, tequila & lime sorbet - a dessert which is not as it seems. Quenelles of sorbet made from tequila & lime with a thin sheet of passionfruit sitting atop - worked out to be a dance of sweetness and acidity.
For the closing act, another French classic executed Taillevent-style. Baba au Rhum - this small citrus flavoured cake comes soaked in brandy and presented to the table doused in flaming booze. Quite the punchy way to finish.
With a seasonally changing menu, talented team in the kitchen, charming team out front and not to forget those 110 wines by the glass, Les 110 manages to be so much more than just a modest Parisian brasserie. It manages to appeal on so many levels by effortlessly fusing classic and modern interpretations- delivered in a thoughtful but unpretentious manner.
Les 110 de Taillevent is running a summer menu promotion with the FT as part of their 'Summer menu series'. The menu consists of a four course tasting menu with glass of Laurent-Perrier for £48pp. For more info and to book visit here.
We dined as guests of the restaurant