Food and Drink: Gastropod

AS HAS been remarked in this column before, the Gastropod feels a natural affinity for L'Escargot, the venerable Soho institution, not merely because of its name but also because the young pod spent many formative hours below stairs there. So it has been saddening to observe the decline of the old place, to see it fall into the hands of the receivers, and finally to hear of the departure of the legendary hostess of the first-floor dining-room, Elena Salvoni, after an unsuccessful attempt by a band of her faithful customers to secure the lease in her name.

When L'Escargot was acquired by Jimmy Lahoud, who also owns the nearby Italian tourist trap, Quo Vadis, it was truly the end of an era. Elena took away her photographs of favoured celebrity diners and the Gastropod managed to salvage the old sign.

Now, the eau-de-nil interior has been whitewashed, the carpet, with its motif of snails' trails, has been replaced by parquet, a new kitchen is being installed on the first floor and the dining-room is due to open on 22 April. However, the ground-floor brasserie is back in business from Wednesday.

The good news is that with two Michelin-starred chefs on the premises, the food is likely to be considerably better than in recent memory. Garry Hollihead and David Cavalier, of Sutherlands and Cavaliers respectively, both achieved one-star status before their restaurants became victims of the recession. They have teamed up to revive the culinary reputation of L'Escargot with a menu of traditional French provincial cooking.

In Elena's place, Jonathan Ross, who sports a similar hairstyle, has been roped in as a 'celebrity shareholder'. Rather than wringing his hands like Elena and greeting one with the words, 'You, of all people, should know better', Mr Ross will be polishing his impersonations and thronging the place with his celebrity pals: Frank Bruno, Keith Floyd and Danny Baker were all present and larger than life at the preview party last week.

The Gastropod wishes the new venture well, but was intrigued by a rumour that Elena's supporters were close to settling a deal on the place next door, formerly La Bastide. Not so: La Bastide is to become another Soho drinking club called The Union. But Elena fans will be warmed by the news that her stormtroops are actively considering two other Soho premises. Watch this space.

THE whole food world is holding its breath in anticipation of the Glenfiddich Awards, which will be announced in a grand ceremony at the Savoy next week. Having seen the shortlist, the Gastropod is disappointed not to have been nominated in a single category, but not nearly so upset as he was to be pipped at the post for the title of the Pizza and Pasta Association's Writer of the Year, which has been won by Craig Brown of the Sunday Times.

Markedly absent from the 'television programme of the year' category of the Glenfiddich shortlist is the Gastropod's favourite show, Get Stuffed] For the uninitiated, this is a series of short programmes that punctuate the late-night schedule on ITV and feature penurious student types demonstrating cheap and cheerful recipes in health-hazard kitchens, assisted by the anarchic Mystery Chefs.

The Gastropod also recommends the Get Stuffed] recipe book (Boxtree, pounds 4.99), subtitled 'banquets for bankrupts'. It offers such wholesome dishes as potato-and- lentil curry, beany pie and frankfurter casserole, and should be required reading for teenagers making their first tentative stabs at cooking for themselves.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home