In large converted pub on Bethnal Green Road, just a minute’s walk from Shoreditch High Street station is Les Trois Garcons. The eponymous ‘garcons’ (or ‘three guys’), moved to the pub in 1996 and finding it to be the epitome of Englishness, decided to open a restaurant on the ground floor four years later. With a delectable menu of modern French cuisine, the restaurant fast became the talk of the town and has been catering to the palettes of culinary conscious Londoners, artists and celebrities ever since.
The eclectic décor in Les Trois Garcons is just as famous as their food, if not more so and crossing the threshold into the restaurant I could certainly see why. Vintage handbags and glittering costume jewellery adorn the walls, while bejewelled taxidermy animals stand upon the counters; silently observing diners as they tuck into fantastic feasts.
Greeted with a warm welcome from Fabien, the restaurant’s front of house manager, I was seated at beautifully laid table and given a 3 course a la carte menu for my perusal.
Foie gras cured in Sauternes and cooked ‘au torchon’ served with Toasted Brioche
Sweetbread and crayfish spring roll on a sesame dressed bean sprout salad
Seared Scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and Kumquat puree
Butternut squash and truffle veloute with parmesan éclair
Organic salmon served with spinach, red wine braised salsify, potato Dauphine, samphire and a champagne butter sauce
Pithivier of winter vegetables served with a fricassee of mushrooms and a brandy cream sauce
Spiced cured wild venison filled with braised venison Gou Tie, colcannon blini, savoy cabbage, beetroot puree and Szechaun pepper sauce
28 days matured Chateaubriand of Longhorn beef from Lake District for two served with galangal glazed tender stem broccoli, braised shallots and mash potatoes, red wine and balsamic jus
Classic vanilla Crème Brulee
Frozen coconut ‘nougat’ with passion fruit coulis
Flourless dark chocolate sponge and mousse, glazed in dark chocolate, served with fresh coulis and tuile of raspberries
Cheeses selection from ‘Maitre Affineur’ Androuet
To whet the appetite while I mulled over the menu, I was given an appetizer of ‘Tomato and Buttermilk Veloute’ (basically a creamy tomato and béchamel soup) served in a sweet little espresso cup and saucer with a basket of fresh crusty bread. The veloute was served at room temperature which was strange at first, but it slowly grew on me with its rich and salty flavours. There is also nothing quite like warm, buttery, crusty bread; so the garcons were already onto a winner as far as I was concerned. It’s the simple things.
The menu contained a whole host of interesting sounding courses, most of which included at least one word I’d never heard of. When it came to choosing a starter although I’d never had crayfish, I decided it was a light-ish option as I didn’t want to fill up (especially after I had gorged on so much bread). Fresh and flavoursome, the crispness of the spring roll combined with the crunchy beansprout salad and the delicate texture of the crayfish was perfect.
Choosing a main course was no easy task and I spent a great deal of time considering this incredibly tough decision. Fabien came over to take the order and as per usual, I panicked. Salmon or venison? SALMON OR VENISON!? I can never decide and usually at the last possible moment I randomly choose an item from the menu, only to deeply regret my decision immediately. ‘I’ll have the venison please?’ I said as a question, worrying that I’d made the wrong choice.
As soon as my main arrived, I knew I’d made the right decision. The venison was mouth-wateringly juicy and incredibly tender, with an aromatic, spiced flavour; like mulled wine or the smell of Christmas. Savoy cabbage and mini Gou Tie (otherwise known as dumplings) filled with braised venison were the perfect compliment and it was one of those meals I never, ever wanted to end.
Unlike the main, choosing a dessert was the easiest decision I have ever made. Crème Brulee is my number one pudding of choice every time. No questions. With sweet crunchy sugar and creamy vanilla, it was to die for. Coffee followed the dessert, accompanied by tiny quince jellies and mini pastry bites. Everything was meticulously presented in vintage silver vessels or quirky crockery, and everything was absolutely delicious.
Les Trois Garcons puts effortless fun into fine dining. Full to bursting with charm, opulence and eccentricity, I really hope that the reputation of their incredible food isn’t overshadowed by that of the distinctive décor. Whereas fine dining restaurants can often disappoint with small portion sizes or lack of character, Les Trois Garcons is a restaurant that provides both style and substance; and it has them in abundance.