"Leicester House" Restaurant Review ~ London


In my earlier life I’d fantasize about chance Brief Encounters and meeting that special someone underneath the iconic Waterloo Station Clock. But the reality was at best, snatching a Häagen Dazs in Leicester Square ready for a 7.30 screening of the latest blockbuster and a back row seat.
The entertainment haven of Leicester Square has once more been sprinkled with Hollywood glitter dust after a major overhaul so where do I go for a rendezvous now that my palate has matured but still seeks intrigue?
Step forward and take a bow Leicester House, a new boutique hotel with a French-Vietnamese restaurant and cocktail bar, will this satisfy the romantic in me?
The building itself was frequented by Johann Strauss, the father of the Waltz Dynasty, surely there'd be enchantment left in his wake?
Just paces from Leicester Square, this old Georgian Townhouse has been updated to 21st century desires and décor, it could pass as a private members club, the colours are muted, poised and ready for action.

We sat ourselves at the bar and the bartender swiftly mixed a mandarin mojito cocktail of rum, mandarin and lime, an icebreaker before dinner to whet our appetites.
   So now to the prelude ...
The duck pâté was so creamy, soothing and bejewelled with peppers that it enticed us to spoon it directly onto our lips like a dessert.
Succulent Squid arrived tangled with fresh samphire, delicately seasoned and perfectly cooked, it avoided the usual crime of taste a la rubber tyres, instead it gave me textural delight! It delivered on the promise of “blackened” on the menu and in addition, this one had an edge of fiery red which penetrated deep into the curls of squid and onto our taste buds
hot and curly
and from that high, our tongues then landed on pillow soft buns of crispy pork belly, whether you see them sold as “bau”, hirata or mantou, steamed buns on the street are very on trend ... I’ve seen hipsters queue their lunchtime away for these puffy pouches. There was more mayonnaise then we were used to but it didn't matter, this was authentic messy street food indoors and in comfortable surroundings!
steamy, hot and marvellously messy
now was a good time to use the sumptuously appointed bathrooms.
Quelle surprise!

It wasn’t so much that charcuterie was served, an obvious acknowledgement of French colonial rule, but that they had draped French and Italian cuts over each other, I jest of course! I loved the balance of salt and fat and found these to be too moreish whilst waiting for ...

Seared scallops, permeated by the 5th taste of umami with breezy notes of the sea shored up with samphire, we derived great pleasure in their mirin infused plumpness, there were nods of approval all round.

We paired this dish with my dining companion’s “go to” wine "Grüner Veltliner" by the dynamic couple Ebner-Ebenauer, the white pepper and green apple notes were a perfect coupling.
The XO Cod was ferociously assisted by slices of chilli peppers and coriander, there was no timidity in the presentation, it revelled in the far eastern rather than the artful French plate but for all the vigour, the fish turned out to be quite a delicate and delectable affair.

The smoked ribs were liquorice-dark and liberally scattered with coriander confetti, an ever present herb, it’s one of my favourite ingredients, I can ruminate forever on coriander which was added much like dill is to fish in Northern Vietnamese cuisine i.e. more of a vegetable than a garnish, we giggled and devoured these like cavemen.
  And then the quail entered our eyeline ...
the supple flesh enfolded with layers of golden crunchy batter,
parcelling subtleties of the delicate meat.
It is what KFC wants to be in polite society.

Leaving time to digest our mains, the dessert was served, an au fait reinvention of “cha fee” which we know from our Hanoi travels. It was a cupful of comforting childhood memories brought on by the condensed milk ... which then matured into adult indulgence via bitter hazelnut chocolate and mascarpone.
The momentum of enjoyment was kept up through to the finale,
nibbed cocoa and coconut clung onto beignets without pulling focus, making way for the Chantilly filling (you’d want to lick off your playmate) to be the star sensation ... now maybe the time for the "Post Supper Room" .... or a cocktail, the bar is open until 2 a.m. from Thursdays.
one of the Rooms upstairs, so inviting so convenient
We had very discreet and attentive service from the friendly staff, who informed us that a room may be available if we needed one ... our final cocktail, a La Provence, recommended by the bartender, Sloe Gin, Campari lime juice and lavender, was a playful finish to our evening.
2.a.m. Licence from Thursdays

A week later I had an early morning meeting in London's "Media Land", a parallel road away from my new find, this gave me an excuse to revisit Leicester House by day, the continentals in our group wanted an area to catch the sun, this was the perfect opportunity to perform a quickie reconnaissance of the rooms on behalf of their overseas client.
pictures were taken and so was breakfast

al fresco on their veranda, how civilised, how continental!

3 visits in a week, my friends are going to talk ...

rendezvous où

I know, do you?

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Sides from        £4
Mains                £8 ~ £14.50
Desserts up to £6



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