There’s something about Soho in the morning, before the tourists pile in or the debauchery starts it’s tranquil and the smell of coffee wafts through the air, it’s like you’re seeing it without its makeup on. In search of an antidote to the heaving Instagram-famous brunch spots, we ducked into L’Escargot.
L’escargot was big news in the 80s and is somewhat of a Soho institution but it’s sparkle faded over the years. Now, after a refurb and with a new brunch menu, it’s worth putting on your radar once again. The 280-year-old town house is also a member’s club, and it shows in this room: dark wood and comfortable, red velvet-covered chairs, it hasn’t lost the French bistro charm.
We’ve become accustomed to ‘bottomless brunch’ referring to booze, but here it’s about the food. Normally one to shy away from this kind of offering, I was a bit nervous upon entering. The menu is split into sections with ‘from the buffet’ and ‘from the kitchen’ either side with specialties down the middle – order a rhubarb fizz or bloody mary while you consider your options. Going to the buffet does make it feel like you’re in a hotel, but paper-thin crepes with fresh seasonal fruit or ham and gruyere, oozing ripe brie de meaux and whole sides of smoked salmon make it worth it.
‘From the kitchen’ is where you’ll find brunch classics like avo and poached egg and eggs royale, but there are also more interesting options for Francophiles such as croque madame that had a grilled cheese-style crunch to the bread, perfectly cooked egg and tangy gherkins to cut through the richness, and fluffy French toast. Or, if you’re really feeling hungry go for the generous ‘full French’; rich, garlicy Tolouse sausage, Alsace bacon, cassoulet beans, black pudding and eggs, or rebel with roast beef and mammoth Yorkshire puddings. Of course, no visit would be complete without escargots – just make sure everyone has them, the garlic butter packs a punch.
Brunch is served Sundays 11am-4pm and is £24.95pp excluding drinks. Dogs welcome. For more information, visit lescargot.co.uk