A visit to an opera implies a bit of a special occasion, mainly because of the ticket prices. Putting on the large scale productions, involving orchestra, highly trained singers and lavish sets costs thousands and even then needs subsidy to survive. Last Wednesday I went to Fiona Shaw’s production of A Marriage of Figaro, beautifully presented on a rotating stage in a spartan Spanish style with heads of bulls hung on walls echoing the cuckold theme of the piece. The music is so lovely, and with a couple of well known arias to have a handle on, three hours twenty minutes drifts along in a flash.
William IV street, just round the corner from the Coliseum was put on the gastro map three years ago by Terroirs (the kick starter of small plates and natural wines), and then more recently Les Deux Salons, which was the choice for this evening. The problem was that the M of F started at 7 and finished at 10.20. Could we have part of our theatre supper deal before, and the rest after? Absolutely no problem. The three course menu at £15.95 was well pitched and balanced with four choices in each section. My companion, Mr Tapwater.org, chose a leek tart and Moroccan couscous with slow-cooked lamb and Merguez sausage, and I the beetroot roquefort and walnut salad, followed by Cornish silver mullet with chickpeas, saffron and spinach. The portions were very slightly on the small side, but otherwise a good start to a long night.
At 10.30 we were welcomed back with a choice of three desserts or cheese. We shared a soft meringue, sugared almonds and custard (aka Ile Flottante), and a pear and almond tart, and finished with two different kinds of tea, properly made without too much water, and served in beautiful silver teapots. And the whole bill, with two glasses of wine (and much tap water), was a bargain at just over half the price of one opera ticket.
Les Deux Salons is a lovely restaurant run by generous people, and another on my true hospitality list. As soon as you enter, you are in a Parisian brasserie with solid fittings and soft flat lighting. If this sounds uncomplimentary, it isn’t meant to be. The space works perfectly without the ubiquitous halogen lights. And no background music. Bliss.
Les Deux Salons
40-42 William IV Street
London WC2N 4DD
Tel: 020 7420 2050
Monday to Friday 12 – 11pm
Sunday 10 – 11pm