When there is a new restaurant opening just around the corner, one assumes one can get a table by a mere walk-in. This, however, isn’t the case with the new branch of Hawksmoor at Seven Dials. I’ve been shunning the idea of advance booking and try to pop in for a table steal. So far, I have not been successful, making me wonder if Hawksmoor is REALLY that good or just a very well hyped venue. We have been turned down once, twice, thrice–never mind that. Why? Because there are so many good old eateries in my Seven Dials neighbourhood, and one of them is this lovely family-run French restaurant Mon Plaisir.
As you walk in, you’ll see an eclectic mix of stuff, walls adorned with vintage French posters, a big Bib sculpture sitting next to the wooden staircase. History is rife and Mon Plaisir is, indeed, the oldest French restaurant in London. There are several dining rooms, each with its own attitude. As for food, the menu at Mon Plaisir includes many refined French classics but isn’t stuck in the past, good-sized portion, simply cooked and tasting great. They also do the menu of the day, which my other bib and I can hardly find faults with.
On our last trip, I ordered their Homemade Baby Ravioli with Bayonne Ham and Cep Mushrooms. The creamy veloute verged on being one dimensional but the crispy ham saved the dish. The cep oil added aroma but not much flavour.
My other bib’s started of “Mushroom on Toast” was well-thought out, well-presented, and well-tasted, too! The crispy toast soaked up the jus but still retained this magnificent crunch. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked and the flavours were well combined and lifted up by the herb foam There was also a nice finishing touch of a mini mushroom soup in the jar, ideal for this wintery freeze.
My main was far from being a let-down. I asked for the day special of Pork Chop with Shellfish Jus, and when it arrived, I could only say, it was a feast for the eyes. Massive, stunning, and I couldn’t believe of all these years people opted for over-hyped places with merely average food. The pork was tender and cooked almost to perfection–I would say a min or two less of cooking time would make the pork brilliant. Still, it was tender and juicy enough. The light, white-wine based shellfish jus brought out the subtlety of the pork without overcomplicating the flavours.
My other bib went for the Duck with Apple and Chorizo Marmalade. It was a good dish, though size-wise and compared to mine, it was too small. It’s not nice serving different sizes of food as it could turn friends to foes and foes to food thieves. That said, I told my other bib to “fork off” from my Pork Chop. The duck dish was sweet, with a spicy, peppery kick from the Chorizo gel. The thinly sliced breast was also nicely cooked, slightly pink in the middle.
The puddings were also lovely. We shared this gooey Deep Fried Chocolate Truffles with Orange Butter and the perfect Poached Pear Tart with Redcurrant Sorbet.
One belly-soothing and satisfying meal done, and I was much intrigued if the new Hawksmoor could top this.
My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “9 out of 10″.
19-21 Monmouth Street
Tel. 020 7836 7243
NOTE: Ask for the cheese. They do have an unusual array of non-commercial French fromage on offer, meaning no Brie or Camenbert!