Le Cercle, London

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Think French gastronomy is going out of fashion, and that French restaurants are stuffy? Then think again.

Think French gastronomy is going out of fashion, and that French restaurants are stuffy? Then think again. Le Cercle is different from other Gallic restaurants in the capital - it has a distinctly night-clubby feel. This shouldn't be too much of a surprise when you consider that this restaurant is the latest venture from Vincent Labeyrie and Pascal Aussignac, the pair behind the hip Club Gascon, which specialises in imaginative interpretations of traditional French cuisine. Located in a dungeon-like basement, with net curtains separating the dining areas, the restaurant features a leather bar, leather furniture and leather-aproned staff, and is guaranteed to bring out the leather queen in you. Dishes come in tiny portions - French "tapas", if you will - and there are suggested wines to match each of the dishes. The menu lists cassoulet of pine morels, "home vine smoked" salmon confit, fillet of hare with salsify, and pistachio macaroons with lemon verbena ice cream - and although the food has divided the critics, all agree that it is a clever concept and a unique dining experience that is particularly well executed. So, in our post-Atkins, health-obsessed times, French food can be presented in an appealing, light-hearted fashion. Just don't go to this restaurant with your grandparents.

Le Cercle, 1 Wilbraham Place, London 020 7901 9999, Tues-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6-11pm. Meal for two, excl wine: £30

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