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.
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.
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.
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.
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.