We heard this spot is one of the best kept secrets around Piccadilly Circus, in terms of price / quality relationship, so it was high up on our list to visit.
The bright red awnings and covers caught our eye from far away, but with a small beige wordmark everywhere - it felt a bit over the top, if we were to be honest. Classy places tend to be more subtle and elegant in their approach. We entered through the cafe area generously decorated with framed artwork. The actual brasserie was downstairs and we were promptly directed there. Walking through a corridor lined with mid-century posters, we could not help to wonder about what to expect.
SWIRL & NOSE
Like in a classic tale, there were three options downstairs: Brasserie, Bar Americanne, and Cabaret Room. As we submerged in the Brasserie, we became one with the set - classic interior with blue veined marble walls, square columns and accents of golden, blue, and pink.
The large, airy room was filled with light, live piano music, and clicking of glasses. We promptly ordered and continued marvelling the fine details surrounding us; such were the red velvet banquette, pink and white cloth table - all custom designed and branded. The wordmark used a simple sans serif font for all letters except for the “Z”, which was art nouveau inspired. The menu had plenty of ornamental swirls to help with layout and reinforce the era, plus, we were pleasantly surprised with very reasonable prices. Our favourite part of the branding was the cloth serviettes - embroidered with a cream orange flower pattern, and of course, the wordmark.
Our bread arrived in under ten minutes and, while not stale, it was not as fresh as we had hoped it would be. As we waited for our dishes, we’d noticed a quirky detail next to our booth - a short stand with brass railing - a movable hard liquor bar. We also realized that open space made you become part of the scene. Being able to see fellow patrons not far from us, the space almost became a public square, an underground elite one, a stratified society.
We began our meal with a quick appetizer of Carottes Râpés: carrots graded in a ball with house dressing. A simple, zesty dish with mustard, and parsley on top, adding some intrigue.
Our choice of wine was Côberes 2014 to match the Steak Hache Sauce Au Poivre et Frites. As our waiter described, it was like a gourmet burger patty without the buns. We also requested the steak to be medium cooked. The peppercorns came aplenty as a garnish on top. They were a bit cooked and not spicy at all, perhaps they might have been boiled. The ground steak patty turned out to be fairly dense and with some pink in the middle. We found the steak sauce to have a creamy consistency and on a heavy side. Overall, a very enjoyable dish with a side of clean, thin fries.
Their Beef Bourguignon was our second dish - tender, with a that classic bloody hint, it was in a broth of legumes and carrots. A simple hearty dish but nothing out of the ordinary, we thought.
At around 6, there was a massive influx of patrons and the whole place filled in a matter of twenty minutes or so. Piano music stopped and humming filled the hall. We were on our way out by then. If that is the case at your visit, their main level chic brasserie is definitely a space worth submerging in with a glass of old-fashioned. Upon exiting, we took one of their graphic postcards - a sweet touch, to go with the old era set.