Les 110 de Taillevent brings French romance to London this Valentine's Day
The sumptuous French restaurant combines fine cuisine, impressive wines and joie de vivre
With London's fine dining scene outshining cities of the world, choosing the perfect venue to take your loved one for Valentine's Day is a nigh on impossible task. Thankfully, I've found the place: Les 110 de Taillevent. This French restaurant, tucked on the corner of Cavendish Square, opened in 2015 as the sister restaurant to Les Taillevent in Paris, which has been providing exquisite food and delectable wines into the heart of the Parisian gastronomical scene since 1946.
Marco Pierre White, who famously gave back his three Michelin stars, has talked at great length about an obsession of chefs nowadays to follow the trodden path of nouvelle cuisine greats. And while this has arguably led to a greater number of restaurants achieving critical acclaim, many have become faceless and sterile environments, lacking atmosphere and originality.
So, what a breath of fresh air Les 110 de Taillevent is; an establishment which puts the guest experience, food and wine list first and worries about the ‘checklist’ later. Boasting the most impressive wine list by the glass of any restaurant in the UK, and a team of first-class sommeliers on hand to guide you through every step, Les 110 de Taillevent has reinstated the importance of the age-old marriage between food and wine.
Upon entering the restaurant, you are struck immediately by the overwhelming beauty of the dining room, housed in the former Coutts banking hall, and with a view across Cavendish Square and out across Marylebone, the setting itself is almost as impressive as the victuals. The restaurant has adopted a fresh approach by presenting the menu and wine list as one. On opening the à la carte menu, the food menu is flanked either side by suggested wine pairings. No longer do you have to commit to a bottle of red that might go well with your aged beef tartare to start but isn’t full bodied enough to compliment the Highland venison.
Wanting to put the expertise of our sommelier to the test, I ordered the venue's six-course winter tasting menu with a blind pairing to match. >>
Over the next two hours, I was swept away by the utter genius of Chef Ross Bryan's culinary creations and Christopher Lecoufle's impeccable wines. After gorging on a carousel of exquisite amuse-bouches, my Game Terrine was served – a trifecta of quail, pigeon and foie gras, ordained by the most delicious of gribiche sauces and paired with a glass of 2016 Les Derniers Etats d'Ame.
Next up, a Squid Cauliflower Risotto served with a roast squid jus, sea herbs, micro cauliflower and toasted black rice. This dish was packed full of flavour and successfully boasted an array of textures, the highlight being the depth of flavour achieved in the brackish roast squid jus. The pairing for this course was a glass of 2013 Domaine Taupenot-Merme, a chardonnay from the small village of Saint-Romain in the Cote de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy. The malolactic fermentation process gave the wine a distinctive buttery aroma to perfectly compliment the delicate squid.
It’s difficult to choose a stand-out dish in a meal full of superstars; however, my next course – a Roasted Skate Wing served with Pied bleu, truffled leeks and clams – was a symphony of flavours, textures, and aromas that is hard to put into words. It is far easier to suggest where it transported me: heaven. This dish led us to the volcanic soil of Mt Etna in Sicily for a glass of 2014 Aurora by Salvo Foti, a bold, dry white wine made up of 90% carricante and 10% minella bianca.
A respite from the seafood dishes came in the shape of a perfectly formed Breast of Barbary Duck, served with a smoked aubergine puree and deep-fried shards of onion squash. A soft duck breast sandwiched between its own crispy skin, dipped in a bold red wine jus, and then offset slightly by a very smoky slow grilled and then blitzed aubergine puree, with the crispy squash added for more texture. Of course, whatever the kitchen could do, the Sommelier was able to match, and we weren’t disappointed by the 2013 Decero Amano from Mendoza in Argentina, having gently matured over 22 months in new French oak and spent a year in bottle prior to release.
The time had come for dessert: a gigantic coconut macaroon served with mango, lime, mint, cream and a hint of chili, paired with a perfectly chilled glass of sweet 2014 Muscat du Cap Corse. This was followed by Banana Mille-Feuille served with homemade peanut butter ice cream, candied pecans and gold leaf; a fitting end to a magisterial dinner.
As I polished off my Maderia Bual Port I thought to myself, how could one fail to fall in love while dining in this marvellous establishment – the only thing easier would be to fall in love with its menu.
Les 110 de Taillevent's six-course Valentine's Menu is £75 per person, with Prestige Wine Pairing available from £90 per person