Decanter restaurant critic Brian St. Pierre visits the opening night of Les 110 de Taillevent in London, the first foreign venture for the namesake and celebrated Paris restaurant group owned by the Gardinier family of Chateau Phelan Segur since 2011.
The buildings around the upper reaches of Cavendish Square – the new home of Les 110 de Taillevent – are quietly stately, a parade of grand, grey stonework.
Inside number 16, however, in this transplant from France, epicureanism is rampant – and cheerful – with a carefully constructed menu of classic dishes literally surrounded by a long and imaginatively rendered wine list.
The large three-part menu unfolds to reveal a panoply of food and wine, presented in a manageable way: the left and right panels list the wines, the center the food; all are arranged horizontally in lines of alternating colour bands, with a choice of four wines recommended for each dish, offered in two sizes, 70 or 125 millilitres.
It’s an ingenious graphic display, an immediately user-friendly entry to the wide-ranging array of wine by the glass.
The food is basically straightforward French brasserie classics, precisely prepared and elegantly presented.
Food at Les 110 de Taillevent, London:
Starter: Grilled squid and chorizo garnished with sweet peppers, curly frisée, bits of ham and squid-ink sauce.
Wine: Glass of Sardinian Vermentino, chosen from the suggested line-up of that and Trebbiano, Iroulegouy, or Condrieu
Main: Veal T-bone chop
Wine: Auxey-Duressses rather than a Zweigelt, Oregon Pinot Noir, or Hermitage.
My companion’s pillows of langoustine ravioli in basil/citrus sauce and fillet of sea bass crossed a similar span of wines.
Sommeliers are also happy to help diners find alternatives to the basic pairings.
What’s most intriguing about the by-the-glass list is its free-spirited eclecticism: different Champagnes are often recommended, saké makes an appearance, and English wines are included among the 10 countries represented.
Altogether, the spectrum of possibilities offered by the food and wine here are a considerable, and very welcome, pleasure.
Wines by the glass start at around £7 but the scale stretches to above £40.