From Moscow and St. Petersburg to London, Jean-Jacques brings all-day classic French dining to Soho.
It’s easy enough to neglect the good old tried and tested classics amongst the excitement of the latest foodie import or craziest foodie concoction that Soho is so renowned for. But when exhaustion kicks in and all you want is just a bit of the familiar, it’s good to know there are plenty of places you can turn to within striking distance.
Jean-Jacques is one such place for fuss-free, traditional French food done well. It is set across three floors with a causal bar in the basement, a café decked out in black, white and red on the ground floor and a more formal cream and golden-accented, mirrored-ceiling restaurant upstairs with an outdoor terrace for open-air dining if the weather permits.
Bar a couple of Russian dishes, there aren’t any surprises on the French menu. A trio of lightly seared scallops (£10) has a lovely herbaceous hit from the salsa verde and tomato fondue. A simple but generously layered endive salad (£8.50) is light but has plenty of punch and crunch in the form of Roquefort, green apple slices and caramelised pecan nuts to keep it interesting.
A main of Barbary duck breast (£19), topped with baby carrots and a sweet honey and rosemary glaze to keep it moist, is warm and comforting. There is a small selection of grills including lobster, chicken, salmon and steak. With the latter, choose between a rib-eye (£24) and a fillet (£29), both come with golden skinny fries. The rib-eye is a well-seasoned and incredibly juicy hunk of meat, so much so that you don’t really need the accompanying sauce – our green peppercorn sauce had a pretty powerful kick.
Come dessert, the vanilla crème brulee (£6.50) is a sure-fire hit. The top is perfectly torched and crisp whilst the rest is indulgently smooth and creamy. The addition of a couple of beautifully light and crumbly sable biscuits is well-matched too. Those who need to round off with chocolate will enjoy the rich but not overly bitter dark chocolate fondant (£8.50). There’s a crunchy walnut praline bite and a scoop of pistachio ice cream too but it needs more pistachio to stand on its own.
There is plenty of wine to keep you merry and the Champagne cocktails are a good starting point. L’amour (£11) has the addition of passion fruit puree and vanilla essence and goes down far too easily. You might want to pace yourself with Death in the Afternoon (£10.50) however, as the addition of absinthe is bound to help accelerate the merriment.
Jean-Jacques, 45 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4SD.