Jean-Jacques (Soho): where French food is shared with friends

If Japanese cuisine is my all-time favourite, French comes a close second. It’s the holy grail of gastronomy after all and French ingredients are always so spot on (from herbs to dairy, wine to fungi, fruits to aperitifs, etc). I am no Julia Child but I could genuinely eat my way through her cookbooks… if only one can do the cooking for me.

The Russian hospitality company Table Talk Group has ventured out of Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time by bringing Jean-Jacques, their all-day brasserie and wine bar concept, to Soho. Taking on a three-storey townhouse on Frith Street (read: roof terrace), the place aims to be a hotspot for artists, media bees, and French cuisine enthusiasts alike.

I was invited to taste the restaurant’s fare a few weeks ago and I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with megababes Lauren and Andrea.

The brasserie is as red as you could think of but not entirely an eyesore as it reminds me of actual Parisienne brasseries and bistros. Peppered with bits and bobs such as photos, French flags, and little boards of famous French quotes.

We were welcomed with a cocktail made by award-winning London bartender Davide Venturino formerly of Lab, W, Aqua fame. 

My salad of crab (£12.50) was superb and relatively big for a starter; I could definitely have this for a light lunch. There was an abundance of crab which tasted fresh despite being mixed with creamy mayo.

Andrea went for the Scallops St. Jacques (£10, Lauren had these for mains at £19) served with salsa verde and a tomato & olive fondue. The scallops were cooked nicely and I thought the natural sweetness prevailed… until I had a bit of the fondue which I thought made it much sweeter than how I’d like it.

Lauren’s choice was the chicken liver parfait (£7) which I thought was decent enough, but nothing life-changing.

For mains, I chose the Barbary duck breast (£19) with baby carrots and swiss chard. Considering this type of duck is very lean, my piece was cooked beautifully so it was moist, tender and juicy. The honey and rosemary glaze gave the duck a nice caramelised flavour without making it sickly sweet while everything else on the plate worked. A winner.

I had a few forkfuls of Andrea’s steak tartare (£22) and it was pretty tasty. I wouldn’t usually opt for steak tartare as mains myself but this had nice seasoning (or maybe it was Andrea’s magic touch of Tabasco) and a good chew. It comes with a heap load of sliced bread, plus a portion of fries.

I liked the side of tomato and red onion salad (£4.5) because nothing screams HEALTH KICK! more than a plateful of vibrant tomatoes, non? It was nice to have something light and naturally tangy/sweet to counteract the richness of our starters and mains.

But we just couldn’t stop ourselves from getting some pomme frittes (£3) which were actually pretty darn good!

We were slightly too full for dessert but as #foodbloggers we felt the need to try what they were offering so we decided to pick what we thought would be the most photogenic.

The tarte au pomme (£5.5) was very pretty but didn’t deliver in taste as well as it photographed. It was a little bit dry for my taste.

Of course, we had to have the chocolate fondant (£8.50) for the obvious reason: The oozing appeal of #chocolateporn.

Served with some walnut praline and pistachio ice cream, Jean-Jacques’ fondant was cooked nicely and the chocolate oozed out beautifully much to our delight. It was, however, a bit too sweet and too rich that even I can’t finish a whole portion of it on my own. 
Our bill was graciously footed by management so we only ended up paying for the bottle of wine we shared. Happy campers! I liked the food but the main highlight for me was catching up and getting to know Lauren and Andrea more.
On my second visit, I made sure to order different things. 
I love escargot especially when it drowns in parsley and garlic butter and Jean-Jacques’ offering (£7) was no exception… although I wish they’d kept the snails in the shells because I find it more fun to eat it that way! 
The tuna nicoise was a bit of a let down. At £23, this was one of the priciest dishes on the menu. I’ve never paid that much for a tuna nicoise before – and I would if it’s good – but I thought it was a bit overpriced and a bit overcooked.
The gilt-head bream (£16) was delicious. A solid cook on the fish made its texture perfect, combined with some roasted cauliflower and almond slivers. The only thing I’d say is that the mash/purée was slightly too salty for my liking. 

As for dessert, I went on to order a tarte au citron (£5.50). I found it quite enjoyable with just the right amount of tartness and sweetness, although I know someone who makes a meaner tarte au citron.

Overall, Jean-Jacques is a decent addition to the Soho dining scene. Traditional French food at very reasonable prices (well, save for the tuna nicoise) with friendly staff, plus a decent cocktail bar (downstairs) to boot. It’s casual enough for a nice catch up with good friends and decent enough to bring clients over.

Jean-Jacques
45 Frith St, London
Ave spend pp: £40
Jean Jacques Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

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14 Comments

  1. 20th October 2015 / 10:17 am

    Such a lovely evening with you and Andrea! Always great to catch up with lovely ladies. Shame about the tuna nicoise when you went back – that's a real disappointment as it's one of my favourites when it's done well!

    Looking forward to seeing you again soon 🙂

    Lauren xx

    • 20th October 2015 / 2:25 pm

      I know, I can't wait to see you guys next week! x

  2. 20th October 2015 / 10:48 am

    It seems like quite the balanced experience all in all! x

    • 20th October 2015 / 2:25 pm

      It is, actually. Not pretentious, nor trying to be the best. Just a decent enough restaurant serving traditional French fare. x

  3. 20th October 2015 / 1:02 pm

    Ooo already been back for more 😉 Had such a lovely evening and lots of yummy food with you – this had made me want to relive it, Barrafina here we come!!! I must say that tuna nicoise is crazily priced but otherwise I would agree it is on price point! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

    • 20th October 2015 / 2:26 pm

      Haha, I would gladly eat the menu off any French restaurant.
      It really is an overpriced salad, but everything else was reasonable. See you next week, hun! x

  4. 20th October 2015 / 3:13 pm

    I'm always looking for a great steak tartare in London so bookmarking this one. Thank you for sharing Honey xx

    • 21st October 2015 / 1:06 pm

      It was pretty good, Jesse! The food is not bad, you may be more critical of it as they say they lean towards Provencal style of cooking! x

  5. 20th October 2015 / 8:14 pm

    Shame you had a few disappointing dishes but the desserts look incredible!! I'm inviting myself to your next meet up 😉
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

    • 21st October 2015 / 1:07 pm

      I'd love to eat with you, Angie! Let's plan something soon! x

  6. 21st October 2015 / 9:11 am

    The desserts and the food during your first visit looked amazing! That crab salad and the scallops look mouthwateringly good.

    • 21st October 2015 / 1:05 pm

      Yes the desserts were very photogenic, but that apple tart wasn't that great, tbh. The crab salad was really good, though!

  7. 21st October 2015 / 2:43 pm

    I love that sign at the bar "I lost all the time that I didn't spend loving", very poetic! Sounds like a fun evening

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • 21st October 2015 / 6:32 pm

      It is, isn't it? And very apt with how most people spend their lives in hatred or worse, disconnect and indifference! x