This smaller establishment has been in French hands since the Second World War, when it was the Free French Officers’ Club (veterans still hold reunions there). The wine bar at street level is unmistakably French, is open to the public and serves most of the menu available in the basement dining room.
Here is the unfussy secret of the establishment, being truly French in character, and offering good, plain, French cooking to a very high standard, indeed. jean-Yves Darcel, the chef/proprietor, trained as a charcutier before he became a chef, and accordingly his terrines are not to be missed, as is the dish of Arbroath Smokies, made to their own, secret recipe.
The cheese board is renowned as one of the finest in London, certainly. Thirty French cheeses are offered, every day, all in prime condition, as they are consumed, rapidly. A modest range of traditional desserts is also available.
A table d’hôte meal can cost around £25 (exclusive of wine and service); but the menu and the wine list range much further.
A WORD OF WARNING…..The restaurant is a Members’ Club to which members may, nonetheless, bring guests, who must sign the guest book, as required by law. Jean-Yves may, however, admit as his personal, paying guests, members of the Chaine who can identify themselves as such. Chaine membership cards should therefore be taken and produced on arrival.