There are two types of people in London. Those that know and love Le Garrick, and those that haven’t been yet.
Yeah, fair point, and no, I haven’t put that theory through any stringent tests so it might be a tad simplistic. But, actually, I suspect it’s not far off the truth.
When you do this sort of thing for a living, there are two questions that come up more than any others. People either want to know about the best new openings or those places that you return to time and again, those “address book secret” kind of places. And Le Garrick is, for me, undoubtedly top of the latter.
My wife and I first discovered Le Garrick on a Saturday evening about a decade ago, after sitting through a matinee performance of Lord of the Rings The Musical. No. Really. That was a thing. A really quite hilariously bad thing too but you probably guessed that. The one saving grace was that we got out early enough to qualify for Le Garrick’s pre-theatre menu which, stupidly, as a post-theatre menu for us, felt like all sorts of illicit win.
An hour or two later, after one plate of properly coarse paté, a bowl of thick, warming, peppery onion soup, two beautifully cooked bits of onglet, crispy frites and a spot-on bearnaise, we handed over a very small sum of money and rolled home, chuffed with our discovery.
And, over the next few years, we ventured back time and time again, sometimes exploring the pre (and post) theatre menu, other times the a la carte. The cooking could vary a little – sometimes it was great, sometimes it was adequate – but the welcome, the people, the room always made it feel like we’d stepped out of Leicester Square and into a little bit of France.
Décor-wise, it’s a proper bistro, all dark woods and mirrors upstairs, while downstairs adds cosy alcoves to the mix. Both are equally suited to losing complete track of time, delving deeper into the wine list (which has an excellent small glass / big glass / carafe / bottle selection), ordering another duck rillette and pretending, for a while at least, that real life doesn’t exist. And, of late, the cooking has been more than matching the all-round loveliness of the welcome.
The catch is, of course, that the pre-theatre menu is more expensive than it was but not by much: two very well-executed courses of French classics costs £13.95, and three – which adds a quite superb Tarte au Citron to the mix – is £16.95. It’s also available from noon until 6:30pm. Go once, you’ll find it charming. Go twice you’ll fall in love. Go three times and the eau de vie will probably make an appearance post-dessert… Frankly, it’s amazing I ever go anywhere else.
2 Garrick St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9BJ
Tel: 0207240 7649