A hidden bistro gem in the heart of London's theatreland
Where? Mon Plaisir, 21 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DD (020 7836 7243, www.monplaisir.co.uk)
Posh gourmet cooking, posh surroundings? Despite the top-notch cuisine from 'London's oldest French restaurant' (Charles de Gaulle dined here back in 1942 – fact), this authentic bistro has a cosy ambience with no airs and graces, just well-presented, delicious fare.
Is it tourist central in the middle of Covent Garden? Mon Plaisir might be theatre-central but its hidden away so only hardy theatre-goers and locals really know about it. The restaurant is made up of four interconnecting dining areas around winding passages full of character. Every available nook and cranny is full of souvenirs, posters and flea-market bric-a-brac, making it feel like you're in a bistro in the heart of Paris.
Should we brace ourselves for snails and frogs legs? Well, yes there are snails on the menu (£12), and we thought it only right that we sampled them. The garlic and parsley butter sauce disguises any sense of what you are eating but they slipped down nicely all the same. The steamed filet of sea bass with broccoli and shellfish sauce (£16.95) was subtle in taste and the assortment of clams and mussels were an added surprise. For heartier cuisine, the rump of lamb with aubergine caviar and Niçois jus was tender and the caviar complemented the dish well.
What should we wash it down with? The wine list is extensive – and it's not just French wines on offer, but fine wines from around the world. We tried the Sancerre 2004 Domaine Reverdy-Ducroux (£24) which was light and extremely drinkable.
Need to know? If you do have theatre tickets booked, there's a three-course pre-theatre menu for £15.95 and if you tip off the efficient staff they'll make sure you're well-fed and make it in time for curtain up.
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