RESERVATIONS

history

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L’Escargot, a Soho Landmark since 1927

  • L’Escargot is housed in a magnificent Georgian town-house dating from 1741. The building was the private residence of the Duke of Portland, At that time Soho was a country area, very popular for horseback hunting – and the name derives from a popular hunting cry of the time – “soohoo”.

  • Soho started to be developed after the Great Fire of London in 1666, when over 13,000 houses were destroyed and 100,000 citizens left homeless. The area, then called Soho Fields was the obvious choice for the wealthy to build their property, being within easy reach of the royal palaces of Westminster, Whitehall and St James’s.

  • In 1896 M. Georges Gaudin established a restaurant at the bottom end of Greek Street called Le Bienvenue. He became famous for his snails and was the first restaurant in England to serve the great delicacy. When in 1927 he moved to larger premises at 48 Greek Street, his customers implored him to rename his restaurant L’Escargot after his most popular dish. He surrendered to them and called the new restaurant L’Escargot Bienvenue. His snail farm in the basement of the new restaurant became quite a talking point. A plaster bust of M. Gaudin riding a snail with the motto “slow but sure” is to this day on display outside the restaurant.

  • After his retirement his son Alex ran the restaurant and it established itself as the best French restaurant in London. In the 1980’s Nick Lander and his wife, Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine took over the restaurant and maintained its reputation as one of the best restaurants in London. They employed Elena Salvoni, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest restaurant managers of the 1980’s.

  • L’Escargot was refurbished in 1998, when Mr Jimmy Lahoud and Chef Marco Pierre White took over the reigns. Marco improved the cooking and the restaurant was voted Best French Restaurant in London and Best restaurant in Soho.

  • In February 2014 L’Escargot was acquired by Brian Clivaz (of Arts Club, Home House and Langan’s Brasserie) and Laurence Isaacson (co-founder of Chez Gérard) and a group of their friends. The new Head Chef is Oliver Lesnik, formerly of The Connaught working under Michel Bourdin and Angela Hartnett.