From style to food, the French have that je ne sais quoi – the extra ingredient that pushes everything that they do to the highest level of chicness. So, when Les 110 de Taillevent moved in at 16 Cavendish Square a few years back, Francophiles rejoiced. The dining room is both cosy and puissant and the back wall, assembled with a spectacular collection of glass bottles, gestures that Les 110 de Taillevent has more than a proclivity for wine.
An extension of Taillevent Paris, the group behind the iconic two-Michelin starred Le Taillevent, the relaxed London brasserie gives a taste of its Michelin-starred sister, pairing an exquisite menu of food with its selection of one hundred and ten wines by the glass. Wines from France and beyond are cleverly organised on the menu (chosen by by Taillevent Paris’ Director of the Wine Department, Pierre Bérot) and diners are able to select one of four wines for course after amazing course, and there is a price point for everyone. Another reason to rejoice.
All of the food at Les 110 de Taillevent is seasonal with thirty à la carte offerings, and flavour and freshness is extolled in each and every dish. It is presently truffle season, so we highly recommend booking in as soon as you possibly can. Under no circumstances do you want to miss truffle season at this restaurant. Les 110 de Taillevent’s chef is bit of a truffle virtuoso.
Champagne (naturally) started the meal, followed by a selection of three amuse-bouches: sliced truffle sandwiches, gravadlax salmon and a warm mushroom fusion. Each one went down in our books as favourites and they set the tone for a titillating meal to follow.
Next up was octopus à la plancha (grilled) with vierge sauce, Iberico chorizo and squid ink. Preparing octopus is an art and this was one of the best we’ve had – tender, delicious and beautifully presented. Its concomitant wine was a glass of 2014 Irouléguy Hegoxuri from Domaine Arretxea, we were off to an impeccable start.
While Les 110 de Taillevent is French at its core, elements are sourced locally and the main courses were composed of a meaty portion of Cornish John Dory, joined by a pipette of fish mousseline and a single leaf romaine, topped in a bath of lobster bisque, and secondly, thick slices of medium rare veal rump (a delectable first for us) overlaid in crisped black truffle slices with dollops of puréed artichoke and a lightly breaded and stuffed baby artichoke. A snappy 2013 Alsace Riesling Calcaire from Zind-Humbrecht went with the fish and 2012 Saumur-Champigny La Marginale from des Roches Neuves was chosen for the veal. We like wine, a lot, but meal pairings can be perplexing and stressful, which is why Les 110 de Taillevent makes it incredibly easy to pair the right kind of wine with each food type, and if you’re not keen to make a go of it, the astute wait staff is there to step in.
Sides? The potato mash is buttery and divine, as are the sautéed mushrooms. They have even French-ified classic, American macaroni and cheese, baking it with a healthy blanket of Emmental and an addition of jambon de Paris and mushrooms.
At this point you will feel very full, but you know that already if you’ve been paying attention, but you have to press on and share a selection of desserts. Our standouts were the chocolate mousse, doused in a hot sauce of 70% cacao. For chocolate lovers, it is literally like you’ve died and gone to chocolate paradise. We wouldn’t normally be drawn to chestnuts for dessert, so the Mont-Blanc with chestnut cream as its highlighted feature, which was chosen for us, was a wonderful flavour surprise. Keeping on theme with nuts, The Almond was a delectable and artistic compendium of lime meringue, almond praline, macaron crumble and sorbet. All was washed down with a glass of Champagne Brut Reserve from Billecart-Salmon.
At this point, there is no a chance of ingesting anything further, but our hosts tantalised us with an Italian Moscato d’Asti from G.D. Vajra and of course we said yes. It was a perfect liquescent finish.
We cannot wait to return for next season’s menu.
Words by Courtney Blackman