Some people crave cocaine, some people crave sex and what do I crave? Snails. It’s not just the snails themselves, I love the whole experience. Firstly, it reminds me of a brilliant holiday with my friend Ross and his fantastic family. Secondly, dipping du pain into the juice surrounding the snails is one of life’s greatest pleasures and lastly, I love to feel that, I suppose, je ne sais quoi, I get to pretend I’m French for a little moment.
Snails might be slimy but when cooked to perfection the flesh almost bounces onto your tongue before dissolving in all of that garlic, buttery, heavenly yumminess. I have spent far too long trying to work out where I can purchase snails here in the UK. I’ve even asked other people to bring me snails back from various holidays. None of this has resulted in even one Escargot finding its way into my kitchen which made me think perhaps it’s time to return to Clement’s restaurant in Tignes. Then, dun dun dun, I discovered L’Escargot, thankfully, my pal Lucy agreed to go with me and it was on, I was about to have snails again.
You’ll find L’Escargot in a hustling and bustling Soho, tucked into a superb building that is not out of place in the flamboyance of Soho at all. In fact, the old-fashioned quirky interior just makes me love it more. It’s like a little hole of history in the middle of somewhere ever trying to keep up with trends.
Lucy and I were led to a comfortable table for two just near the bar, a little fire going behind us and a lovely view of everyone else in the restaurant so we could nose. We were given menus and a lovely Waiter called Max told us that he would be looking after us for the evening. We had pre-ordered the chateaubriand to share and as Lucy was a snails first timer, we decided to just order six to ease her in (I was very tempted to order 12.) Thankfully, once Lucy got the hang of the clamps and her miniature fork, she saw the little grey mass of snail, bravely swallowed it and decided she didn’t want anymore. I was delighted and ate the rest, what a result. We did share the sauce as no one could resist freshly baked bread and that smell of garlic and parsley, trying to slow ourselves down for the next treat.
I should mention wine, Lucy said she’d like a cab and whether she meant home I wasn’t really sure but we went with the Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2016 Domaine de Pourthie. It was quite a rich red wine and the vibrant cherry cut through the classic French flavours beautifully. Bizarrely, we hadn’t really had much in the likes of pre-drinks, just a cocktail each and after this bottle of wine I have to say I felt rather unsteady on my feet, as did Lucy.
After the snails we were left to natter for a really good length of time, finish off the olives and prepare ourselves for one of the most delicious slabs of meat I’ve had in a long time. The sauce that was served with the chateaubriand, just a classic béarnaise was exquisite, I’m salivating just thinking about it. In fact, writing this was a mistake, I must return soon.
I love the old-school charm of L’Escargot, the waiters in their suits, chandeliers, over the top decor from a bygone era. And do you know why I think I love it? Because these days everything is trying so hard to be different that it ends up being the same, L’Escargot has character.
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So, inspired as I was by writing about L’Escargot, I stumbled upon a fantastic Gordon Ramsey video where he cooks snails from his very own garden in LONDON!
Therefore I took it upon myself to go on a collection of garden snails at home, they are currently munching away on carrot in a breathable container…to be continued!