Les Deux Salons, 40-42 William IV Street, London, WC2

The word is out. Which means you'll have a fight on your hands if you want to get a seat at Les Deux Salons

Is there any point in choosing a restaurant to review on the basis that it makes for a good yarn? Ghastly food, inept waiters and rooms with all the charm of a funeral parlour might be torture to sit through, but there's plenty of scope for comic complaints. But save for the fun of reading of a Fawlty Towers-like experience, is it much use for the restaurant-goer?

I am visiting Les Deux Salons with the almost copper-bottomed guarantee of top-quality food and environment. Its two big brothers, Arbutus and Wild Honey, are both exemplary. Arbutus burst on to the restaurant scene in 2006 with chef Anthony Demetre delivering very elegant dishes in an almost austere Soho room. He followed it in 2007 with Wild Honey, a diametrically opposed setting – all wood panelling and clubby atmosphere – where little copper pots of daubes and soups arrive at one's elbow to make it feel like everything's all right with the world.

Now Demetre and partner Will Smith give us Les Deux Salons – an airy brasserie affair just off Trafalgar Square. If the scale of the new venue is challenging – it must be six times the size of Wild Honey – then the location is some comfort. On the Saturday lunchtime I visit, there is a constant thrum of passers-by heading to Covent Garden or the National Gallery.

Open for just a few weeks, word is clearly already out: I can get only 12.30pm or 9.30pm sittings. With some reluctance, I opt for lunch with the children, rather than a rare romantic night out with Mr M. (I'm usually asleep by 10pm, to my shame.)

Mr Smith is working the front of house and seems to check in studiously on every table through the course of lunch service. Well, all except ours. Perhaps this is helpful. One, I don't have to pretend not to be the person he's seen having plenty of media-ish lunches in Wild Honey; and two, it makes me realise that one becomes less visible when eating with children – the proper test of a restaurant.

For an all-day venture in the heart of tourist London, families are key (I'd have thought) – and Les Deux Salons does offer a children's menu. And, greeting grumble aside, there's scarcely anything to find fault with. The cunningly aged rooms are beautiful – all fogged mirrors and faux-smoke-tinged walls. A pretty tiled floor and brilliant arrangement of tables that allows diners to feel tucked away, even in this large space, add to the splendour. And that's before we cast an eye over a menu full of brasserie classics such as omelette "Arnold Bennett", andouillette with mustard sauce, bouillabaisse and onion tart. Closer inspection reveals a few new-generation twists to keep repeat visitors happy. A salad of quince, wet walnuts and dolcelatte, for instance, or Cornish plaice stuffed with shrimps and kaffir lime.

Alas, although my children are pretty adventurous, the daughter spots a cheeseburger hidden among the items from the Josper charcoal grill (kitchen obsessives will be familiar with this sexy bit of kit). So she munches happily through that and some crisp chips (I manage to get a side-order of winter greens at her elbow, and she tucks into those, too). The son has warm salt-cod brandade with sauté of young squid-and-parsley cromesqui – now that's more like a budding critic – followed by bavette of Scottish beef with shallot sauce. "Just the right amount of chewy," is his verdict.

Mr M has ravioli of veal with fresh goat's curd and cavalo nero; I have traditional fish soup. The former is meltingly soft and savoury, the meat itself forming the parcels. My soup is somewhat oversalted, but that's the only bum note. The slow-cooked ox cheek with parsnip purée main is perfect – glossy and dark meat, smooth-as-silk purée and a side order of gratin dauphinoise that requires protection from the other diners with a sharp knife. Mr M's pork belly with lentils and autumn veg is properly fatty and falling apart.

We pool pudding resources with Paris-Brest with praline cream, glazed lemon tart and bitter chocolate mousse and come away deeply satisfied.

When we arrived, there'd been an air of newness (perhaps because we were one of just two tables occupied), but by pudding the joint is jumping and it feels as if Les Deux Salons has always been there (the horror of former tenant Pitcher & Piano a distant memory). Anthony Demetre and Will Smith have a hit on their hands – as if that were ever in any doubt.

8/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook 4 needs help 5 does the job 6 flashes of promise 7 good 8 special, can't wait to go back 9-10 as good as it gets

Les Deux Salons 40-42 William IV Street, London WC2, tel: 020 7420 2050 Lunch and dinner daily. About £75 for two, including drinks and service

A brasserie bonanza

Chester Grosvenor Brasserie

Eastgate, Chester, tel: 01244 324 024

The expensive but delightful brasserie of the city's grandest hotel has a good number of fans in its own right, with a fun atmosphere and beautiful décor

Le Café Anglais

8 Porchester Gardens, London W2, tel: 020 7221 1415

Rowley Leigh's something-for-everyone brasserie, perched above the hubbub of Whiteley's in Bayswater, has especially good small plates and offers affordable luxury; a 50-seat oyster bar is on its way

78 St Vincent

78 St Vincent's Street, Glasgow, tel: 0141 248 7878

A city-centre brasserie in an impressive former banking hall, this is a handy sort of place, of most note for its great atmosphere

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2010'. www.hardens.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project