Les 110 de Taillevent: It’s a respect thing

Dining at Les 110 is an experience for grown-ups. The London sibling of the two Michelin-starred Paris original is housed in a fine yet somewhat austere Georgian building on Cavendish Square. The venue imbues a sense of expectation, but also one of reverence. The latter I dislike. Dining is supposed to be fun and we are the customers. Our purpose is to eat, not to pay our respects. For the record, ‘110’ relates to the fact that the restaurant famously offers the said number of wines by the glass, with a series of innovative flights explicitly designed to match the food. Since it was a weekday lunchtime, we however passed on wine. As a result, our judgement of the restaurant was made sober and unclouded. In summary: full marks for the food and its pricing; less praise for the service and overall ambience. At £23 for two courses (or £28 for three) from a set menu at lunch, this is a great way to sample top-notch French cooking in central London. My comrade and I both followed the same formula, commencing with a spinach ravioli starter and following with a sea bream main. Both were presented beautifully and tasted superb. The former was served in a small bowl, the bright green ravioli providing a vivid colour (and taste) contrast to the accompanying baby octopus. Our sea bream mains were grilled to perfection, paired well with broccoli and balanced by an intriguing beurre blanc. The slightest hint of citrus in the butter worked as an inspired foil to its naturally rich texture. Despite the excellence of the food, we never felt fully able to relax at the restaurant. Perhaps it’s the reverence thing again, maybe the green panelling (uncomfortably reminiscent of the House of Commons); or, simply the over-bearing service. I do not need my water glass refilling every time I take a sip! The quality of the cooking at this price provides reason enough to return, and the wine list undoubtedly deserves exploration, but to be clear, Les 110 is not without its faults.