A French restaurant in Covent Garden? It has to be a tourist trap. In fact, Mon Plaisir is anything but. It’s the oldest French restaurant in London – it dates back a little over 60 years – and, as far as our ‘research’ to date goes, is the most authentic French experience in the capital.
Accordingly, it’s not necessarily what you’d call haute cuisine. It’s just hale and hearty classic bistro fare in a setting that feels like it’s been lifted wholesale from an arrondisement of Paris. If you’re looking for a green salad, something overly clever or a combination of flavours designed to shock, look elsewhere. If dishes like gratinée a l’oignon, steak tartare, pommes allumettes and coq au vin make your mouth water, you should make a note of the phone number.
The gratinée is a cracker, served piping hot so that molten tendrils of cheese grip the spoon and chin, prompting flashbacks to long weekends on the other side of the Channel. The terrine de foie gras was also excellent, the richness cut through with a hint of passion fruit acidity. And yes, we know, foie gras is cruel. But it tastes good and we’re higher up the food chain…
Mains of Poitrine de Cochon de Lait – roast suckling pig, served with sage and mushroom gnocchi – and Entrecote Grillée continued the oh so French vibe, although special mention must go to the partner pleasing pommes allumettes. She’s lived in Paris, we’ve gone back many times since and, over the years, we’ve been trying to find a proper French fried spud on these fair shores. We’ve now found them.
The meal finished with a proper espresso – the sort of thing you used to enjoy standing up in a café while people smoked Gauloises around you – and a nostalgia-prompting clafoutis. Michelin-threatening it’s not. But it is comforting, good value – particularly a pre-theatre menu that’s £15.50 for three courses – and deeply, deeply satisfying.
Cuisine type – French
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £60
Wine – £4.50
19-21 Monmouth Street
020 7836 7243