I received a message from a Chum of mine who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks. He was in town and fancied catching up. The last couple of times it has been at my favourite London spot – Ronnie Scott’s but this time we wanted to grab dinner. Although I have lived in London for a couple of years now, I’m still not down with all the cool and hip places to eat. I am lucky enough to know a few ‘nice’ places that also happen to be reasonably priced.
Located a short walk from both Tottenham Court Road and Holborn tube stations it is very easy to get to if you are in central London. If you are into your Comic Books then the Forbidden Planet London Megastore is about 5 minutes walk away.
Outside Savoir Faire
The restaurant is quite well hidden in London. You’d not normally walk this way – between 2 Central Line tube stations – however its corner location does mean that if you are on the right road you will soon find it. The road is quite busy and has a mixture of busses and cars go past. For sunny days there are a couple of outside tables but I’d recommend avoiding these if you don’t want to deal with the road noise/dirt that comes with busy roads.
Inside Savoir Faire
Savoir Faire is a hidden gem, and from first impressions it certainly lives up to the French impressions the name and menu suggests. Through the front door you notice there is probably seating for less than 20 people, just like an intimate French café you’d find down a side-street in Paris.
The walls are covered in hand-painted art with every inch of space being used to help add to the French-feeling of the restaurant. The illusion is only broken when you look up and see the quotes written on the ceiling.
Unsurprisingly this is a French restaurant. Not only unashamedly French in content but they also only offer 2 menus. The first is their pre-theatre menu which offers 2 courses for £14.90 – What a bargain for a quick meal before heading to the West End to catch a show. The second is their standard 2 course dinner for £25.90. The menu items between the two are different (with some overlaps) but the main difference is the pre-theatre menu is only available between 5-7pm. You can check out the menus on this link.
In a strange turn of events we ordered exactly the same meal. My chum and I spent quite some time reviewing the menu. For the starter I was very taken by the chicken paté with onion marmalade. He was interested in the goose rillettes – like a coarse pate. We both wanted these but when the waitress arrived I asked what the soup of the day was, explaining that if it is French Onion Soup then I would have to have it.
And it was French Onion Soup!
For the main course I was tempted by the Chicken Supreme stuffed with Brie and Tarragon. My only concern was that the dish came with a hot blueberry sauce and I’m really not a fan of blueberries. The waitress did say that it was an amazing dish but in the end I went for the Rib-Eye Steak. As did my friend. He asked for his ‘Blue’ and I asked for mine to be ‘Saignant’ which is slightly more cooked than blue but not by much. I was about to order a portion of fries to go with it but we were told it came with some dauphinois potato. Dauphinois! My favourite! We both also took the bernaise sauce (out of a choice of bernaise, mushroom or brandy).
We really were a pair of Simon Same-Orders!
While we waited for the starters to arrive, some bread was delivered to the table. Already on the table was a lovely garlic & herb oil for dipping the bread into. There also wasn’t a mountain of bread so you didn’t feel like you were going to ruin your dinner by having it.
The French Onion soup arrived with a lovely large cheese topped crouton. We chatted and caught up on each other’s lives while we ate. Every-so-often we broke away from the conversation to comment on how lovely the dinner was. The bowl of soup wasn’t massive (a mistake a number of restaurants make) but it was the perfect size for a starter to our meal.
With the bread and the soup eaten, our plates were taken away. It didn’t take long for the main courses to arrive. We had the same meals for the main course, with the only difference being that mine would be slightly more cooked. The steak was perfectly cooked and I felt the Bearnaise complemented it just right. As well as the dauphinois, there were some batons of carrots and green beans. Its hard to explain how wonderful a correctly cooked steak is but Savoir Faire managed to get both steaks perfect. Being Rib-Eye steaks there was some fat but that is to be expected.
At this point we were both stuffed. The French onion soup and the steak was a fantastic meal. There was no need to eat any more however the waitress brought over the dessert menu. They had a vanilla cheesecake and I love cheesecake! What would be the odds of us both taking the same dessert? Did we? Didn’t we? Place bets now!
We did – Of course we did!
Not being a warm dessert these came out very quickly. I hadn’t asked but it was a baked cheesecake, something you don’t often see on menus as the fashion now is for just short chilled cheesecake. Usually I’d expect a slice of ‘whatever’ for dessert. Savoir Faire served a wedge, not a slice! A lesser restaurant could have easily cut the wedge in half and no-one would complain about the portion size or the cost! It was served with a raspberry coulis which contrasted the vanilla cheesecake perfectly.
With dessert demolished we both made the decision to pass on tea/coffee and aid digestion with a walk to the tube station. The bill came and we noticed that the restaurant had got much fuller and all the tables were now taken. It might not one of the best known locations for dinner but the diners certainly do know about it!
This was dinner for 2, including 3 courses and drinks. The total bill was £90 excluding tip. £30-odd for 3 courses each and then £15 each for drinks. In central London that is quite a reasonable price but for the quality of the food it feels like a steal! You can reduce your costs by avoiding dessert or having the pre-theatre menu which is about £10 cheaper per person. Due to the very reasonable set menus for dinner you’d actually struggle to have a much more expensive meal. You can pay a supplement to have fillet steak – but I wouldn’t bother. The set menus give a wide choice and there will be something for everyone.
The Reverend’s Final Thought
If you are in London and want some great food for a fair price then a visit to Savoir Faire should be on your itinerary. You can book or your can just risk turning up. If you do just turn up you may be seated downstairs – its a bit more private but it does feel like it loses some of the feeling that the main restaurant has.