L’Escargot is owned by Chef Neville Anderson, well known for what was once Café Aubergine in Market Place, Kingston and his Jamaican Restaurant in Munich.
L’Escargot is also probably the most anticipated Restaurant to visit or hear about this year for Restaurant Week, not only because it is fairly new but because of their raving reviews and salivating menu. So I thought it would be a fabulous, fantastic experience but they fell short of that. It was just good, not great.
My husband and I arrived last Saturday night at 8:40pm, a few minutes late for our 8:30pm reservation.
We were greeted and seated. Staff were courteous but not cordial. The Table setting was exquisite with a fresh, white orchid as the centrepiece that was a nice touch. I can see where the dim lighting and décor with instrumental piano music playing in the background would take guests to France. The waiters were a perfect part of the French theme as well in white attire with red ties and berets.
We were shown their regular menu for the night as well as the Restaurant Week Menu. It was a hard decision but we stuck to the plan and ordered from the Restaurant Week Menu at 9pm. If you weren’t ordering a meal over $30USD, there were tempting main dishes available for $20-$25USD so I don’t think the Restaurant Week offer was a huge save, especially if you opted out of Dessert.
Quite a few diners were present and more came in as the night grew older, but the wait for Appetizers was still too long. Also note that this was not just a result of Restaurant Week because I have received feedback from persons who visited before that they had a long wait for their food as well. It was approaching 25 minutes before we got our Escargots and Smoked Marlin. The Smoked Marlin was a huge disappointment. Quite plain, arriving with just the Chef’s special mousse. It was tasty and complemented the Marlin well but at least a salad should have been added to it. We reminisced about Chef Conroy Arnold’s special Marlin Salad from Christopher’s at Hermosa Cove that put that dish to shame.
But serve my husband right, thou shall not go to L’Escargot and not order Escargot.
My Escargots? Decent serving, and it was delicious with just the right texture and taste, not rubbery or salty. L’Escargot specialises in French cuisine and Escargots are usually served as a starter in France, Spain and Portugal so they deservedly get the edge over the Escargots I’ve had at Toscanini Italian.
Our table was cleared at 9:30pm and our Entrees did not arrive until half an hour later. Our waiter did not visit during that half hour to reassure us that our Main dishes were on their way either. Luckily we weren’t on a first date because after about 15 or 20 minutes there would be crickets of awkward silence.
The serving size was decent for our Entrees. Randy’s Beef Tenderloin was savoury and cooked as ordered (medium rare). My Lamb Chops were savoury as well but one of them was medium rare bordering rare and I requested it be medium. I didn’t mind but that may not be the case with everyone. The sauces did not highlight or complement the meats in any special way. The Filet Mignon at Marguerites by the Sea is still a winner for Randy.
We had the Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Mousse for Dessert but they were nothing to write home about. I prefer Rojo at Spanish Court Hotel’s Crème Brulee.
I didn’t see their Dessert menu, but the French are well known for Parisian Cafés and I think they could have been more creative, offering a signature Crêpe, Éclair or Macaron for Restaurant Week.
French cuisine is known for being one of the finest in the world. Afterall, they are the ones that published the Michelin guide and thus award stars for excellence to a select few restaurants. Although L’Escargot is French and Toscanini is Italian, they are often compared considering they are both high end restaurants on the North coast offering similar dishes. I prefer Toscanini. The hostess and waiters at L’Escargot were efficient for the most part but more like robots doing what they were supposed to do, lacking the charisma needed for such a restaurant.
Even though I wasn’t wowed, I still look forward to returning to L’Escargot to enjoy their ambience again. Randy looks forward to trying their French Onion Soup, while I look forward to trying their Bouillabaisse and Risotto with Escargots and Scallops.
Location: Main Street, Runaway Bay. St. Ann, Ocho Rios
Ph: 973-5652; 973-5589
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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