Panache, Paris and pigeon; fabulous fine wining and dining, tucked neatly in to London’s last working mews.
Like a bottle of champagne ready to pop, or the restaurant’s theatrical owner Thierry Thomasin, the exuberant French flair of Angelus seems ready to burst out of the tight confines of the 19th century listed building that encases it. The ex-British pub has been completed renovated so that (almost) no sense of Englishness remains, except a stained glass window featuring the mischievous Robin Hood.
Upon arrival you will be welcomed through to the lounge area at the back of the building, where you can recline on plush sofas and sip pre-dinner aperitifs. You can even eat a toned down version of the menu here at lunchtime (as well as on the terrace in front of the restaurant) although the crushed velvet and chiffon are likely to distract you from your food as you wonder at what time the Moulin Rouge dancers are likely to appear.
Like everything else, the decor here is undeniably French. In the restaurant, dark wood tables and chairs compliment the original English architecture of the building whilst Art Deco fabric and mirrors add a pinch of pomp to the show. Think Parisian brasserie tres fabuleuse.
Diners here are either French, own houses in France or want to own houses in France. Angelus is a French restaurant: a very French restaurant. And this is exactly why it is so interesting and unique. At a time when many London restaurants are becoming clean-cut minimal copies of one another, Angelus offers an evening of fun, charm and elegance, without the excessive formality that is generally associated with venues of a similar calibre.
If a trip to Angelus was a stage show, then Thierry Thomasin would be the star. He single-handedly creates the atmosphere here, offering personal tailored advice on your meal, your drinks and your French accent, whilst becoming delightfully excited by everything going on. He is a personality, and a wonderfully personable entertainer. If la vie Francais could be collected, bottled up and then served, Thierry would be it.
Starters include a foie gras creme brulee topped with crisp caramel and poppy seeds. It’s an intriguing combination of flavours that, although very rich, finely infuse with one another creating a great combination. The artichoke raviole with poached egg is delicious, but slightly spoilt by a rather bland artichoke puree.
Pigeon is served rare, so if you have an English palette, ask for it to be cooked just a touch longer. However you order it, it looks stunning and tastes superb. The flesh drops from the bone and is magnificently complimented by the bacon and garlic accompaniments. Similarly, the second best plate on the menu, a rabbit, foie gras and vintage port pie, is also almost as exciting. The meat is earthy, moist and slightly sweetened by the port, whilst the foie gras keeps the flavour rich and delicious. On the outside, the pie’s crust offers a nice amount of crunch without being too flaky. It’s golden and pretty much perfectly cooked.
After foie gras and a mixture of white and red wine, the prospect of dessert is slightly worrying. A Guanara chocolate tart is so good that even after everything else, it gets eaten in its entirety. The wine and cherry clafoutis is more delicate than the chocolate, sweet and fruity, and exaggerated slightly by the alcohol. All in all, the food is fantastic.
Half the fun of Angelus is the wine, and the sommelier will guide you through a selection of the finest (of which there are plenty), choosing tastes to match our preferences and the various flavours of each course. The choices are spot on and the decisions should be trusted. Although there are some high priced tipples on the menu, wine lovers will be pleased to know that this is down to quality, rather than mark-up.
The Last Word
Angelus is a touch of France in London. Come here for innovative French cuisine, a fantastic selection of wines and more than a touch of European charm. Tres bien!