Mon Plaisir is set in Monmouth Street which feels almost Parisienne, with sophisticated lingerie emporium Coco De Mer next door and ultra chic Covent Garden hotel across the road. If you were planning a romantic luxury London weekend break for your Valentine, then this is the street i’d be checking into.
And you couldn’t really get any more romantic than Mon Plaisir. Billed as the oldest French restaurant in London, its dining rooms are bathed in a golden cosy glow and the walls bustling with original French artefacts. The pewter topped bar once graced the lounge of a Lyonnais brothel. If you want a place with atmosphere, then this is most definitely it.
It’s a family run business with 70-year-old Alain at the helm, a striking man with bags of Gallic charm and matching impeccably groomed moustache. His super-friendly daughter Valerie co-runs the show and gave us a warm welcome showing us to our table and offering us a glass of fizz.
There was a steak tartare masterclass is full swing upstairs which we looked in on. Enthusiastic foodies were rustling up a special dressing to combine with the freshly chopped raw fillet beef. “We NEVER use a machine to cut our meat,” emphasised Alain. “We make everything here from scratch” Here’s a guy that’s clearly keeping his country’s traditional cuisine alive across the channel.
I’d not seen my dinner partner Kathryn for ages, we used to work together at Newsround and always have a lot to talk and laugh about. The atmosphere was really jovial, so our loud hoots of laughter in between sips of aperitif didn’t cause any raised eyebrows.
Thick French accents, friendly and helpful without being over attentive, wine glasses topped up – you really couldn’t fault the service. The team of staff were approachable and happy to answer any questions we fired their way.
The menu is littered with the kind of French staples you’d expect – onion soup, snails, rabbit, scallops… but plenty of modern dishes too.
I was glad to see a lovely looking vegetarian option on the menu – red onion tart tatin glazed with goats cheese and pepper caramel (£8.95) that I knew Matthew would like to try when I bring him back. Veggie options and French restaurants don’t usually go together so he’ll be delighted about this.
- Our starters – classic French onion soup for Kathryn, (£6.95) a generous portion with delicious cheesy topping. For me it was the unusual sounding poached egg in puff pastry with red wine reduction which was petit and tasty.
- The mains – Kathryn ate beautifully presented roast salmon with grey shrimps and vitelotte potatoes (£19.95), while I tucked into breast of chicken glazed with roquefort cheese, thyme mash and pinot noir reduction (£17.95) which was delicious and comforting.
- Dessert – Kathryn went light and enjoyed ice cream in three fruity flavours (£4.95) with some kind of mouth popping crumbs that she raved about. I went full throttle and ordered vanilla rice pudding with salty caramel sauce (£6.95). It arrived in a preserving jar looking very on trend. It tasted exquisite – chilled creamy rice pudding with that lip smacking salted caramel sauce swirled through it, topped with a chocolatey crumble. You know when you’re too full to really eat any more, but you keep plunging your spoon in anyway – yes that!
Oof! We were so full our belts were loosened, but when I go back I shall definitely try and leave some space for the bounteous looking cheese selection that was being paraded around the restaurant on a large tray.
Value for money
I’m a firm believer in you pay for what you get, and the standard of this food is a cut above. You’re getting freshly prepared top notch authentic French cuisine in a gorgeous setting. This is the kind of place you woo a loved one or take a group of people you want to impress.
You can certainly still get a good deal at Mon Plaisir if you venture away from the A La Carte menu which can add up. The 2 courses for £22.95 or 3 courses for £24.95 special set menu is definitely a great way to enjoy the food at this restaurant if you’re watching your finances.
The pre and post theatre menu is also a blinder at £12.95 for 2 courses with complimentary glass of house wine and tea or coffee.
Authentic french food and atmosphere, and it felt like we should have been emerging onto the streets of Paris instead of central London. This is a gem of a restaurant and i’ll definitely be going back.
We were guests of Mon Plaisir
19-21 Monmouth Street,
The Steak Tartare Masterclass is held the first monday of every month £29.50 per person. 6:30 – 9pm.
***I’m giving one lucky Feeding Boys reader the chance to win two places on Alain’s masterclass… enter my competition>>>
For more information call 020 7836 7243