Perfect Pre-Opera Dining at Paul, Covent Garden
Many years ago I was strolling through the elegant streets of Lille and come across a PAUL bakery. It was clearly a local business and there was nothing like it in the UK at the time; that mix of the rustic and the sophisticated that the French do so well. Those were the days before sushi was available in every train station and soya lattes were compulsory. I remember being surprised when a couple of years later a PAUL sprang up in Richmond where I was living; the local business, a family company going back five generations, had expanded and now operates in 20 countries, with PAUL bakeries in London, Washington, Dubai and Tokyo. And in Covent Garden is the flagship ‘Le Restaurant de Paul’ offering a lot more than a bakery.
Covent Garden’s Le Restaurant de PAUL is located a short stroll from the world famous piazza, and serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or a weekend brunch; but we had been invited to review their pre-theatre dinner menu, served from 5.30 – 8.00 pm. It’s an area where finding reasonable food without a tourist premium can be a challenge, so I was keen to find out more and add another Covent Garden restaurant to my recommended list.
There is a choice of three classic French dishes for each course with meat, fish and vegetarian options available as well as those scrumptious PAUL desserts. With two courses for £12.50 or three courses for £14.50 it’s wonderful value for anyone in the West End wanting something more substantial than a sandwich and perfect for the opera, cinema or theatre.
There is a small but perfectly formed list of French wines; we tried a crisply elegant Chardonnay, Olivier Coste Languedoc, that matched our food really well.
A densely flavoured pea soup was given a kick by added chorizo, softened by yoghurt and served with PAUL bread to mop it up – perfect for a rainy spring day.
Keeping things on-trend was a perfectly constructed plate of spicy crushed avocado with coriander and edamame beans sitting on multiseed toast.
Asparagus & oeufs au four was a luscious savoury combo with tender spears of asparagus mixed up with red peppers, baked eggs, yoghurt, parsley and Espelette chilli with a toasted PAUL baguette to mop up the eggy sauce.
Omelette Arnold Bennet is a classic dish from the Savoy, created for the famous novelist. This version was rich and crabby and was my favourite of the savoury dishes.
There is always a good selection of sorbets and ice creams for dessert, I can recommend the blood orange.
Sadly the chocolate mousse was off the day we went but the little tart more than compensated – it came with lots of cream!
It’s so easy when you’re in town and in a hurry to settle for eating something less than good because of the time factor or expense. But at Le Restaurant de PAUL you can sit in elegant bistro surroundings and eat very well without breaking the bank. It’s well worth a visit and the pre-theatre dining menu is a steal and a great price for a Covent Garden restaurant.
Le Restaurant de Paul
29 Bedford Street
London WC2E 9ED