Authentic French Food at Le Garrick, Covent Garden, London

I am a Francophile. I love the country, the culture and most of all, the food so when an opportunity arose to visit Le Garrick, the French restaurant established in 1986 in Covent Garden, I was beyond excited.

wine, candle and Le Garrick menu header

I've walked past it in Garrick Street so many times and always fancied eating there but never actually got round to it. That's the trouble with London - too many great restaurants, not enough time. I hadn't realised that as well as the ground floor dining room, the restaurant boasts a large eating area downstairs, accessed via a winding metal staircase.

outside seating at Le Garrick, London

My eldest son's partner had invited me to meet her in London while she was staying for a two day training course so when I was invited to review Le Garrick  it was the perfect opportunity for us to catch up and enjoy a meal and a few drinks together.(#gifted)

Just three years ago Le Garrick celebrated its 30th anniversary so to mark this the restaurant enjoyed a makeover - the first in its 30 year history. After some clever tweaks to the layout Le Garrick now has more space and a better "flow"  between tables.

The banquettes and booths were replaced and the lighting was updated with eye-catching chandeliers and side lights plus new art work on the walls.

inside and downstairs at Le Garrick French  restaurant

We loved the vintage theatre posters adorning our little alcove which would have been very romantic if I'd taken my husband but proved equally perfect for an evening of girly gossip and oversharing with the FDil (Future daughter-in-law.)

With the subtle background music, the friendly and helpful staff who mostly seemed to be actually French, the decor and the authentic regional food (even down to good French butter for the sliced baguette) it really felt like we had been transported to a characterful Parisienne bistro.

downstairs bar at Le Garrick, Covent Garden French restaurant

Now, down to the most important part of the evening - the food.

Like many restaurants in this area of the West End, Le Garrick offers a pre and post theatre menu served from noon until 6.30pm and again after 10pm. This is excellent value at £13.95 for two courses or just £16.95 for three.

We had been invited to choose from the extensive A La Carte menu which was a tough job - so many mouthwatering options!

I was so tempted by their famous calamari dish for "les entrees" but spotting the Escargots des Bourgogne I could not resist. I wish I'd bet cash on the FDiL's choice. She's a big fan of mussels and predictably chose them as her starter.

escargot and Moules Mariniere at Le Garrick #restaurant #review

She has to choose gluten free options and it was surprisingly easy at Le Garrick. She just had to forgo her share of the gorgeous fresh French bread. Her loss...

My snails were excellent and, unusually, not too chewy. I'd have like more garlic but to be fair I like my garlic at levels which would deter even the bravest vampire. The escargots were served in a traditional style escargot dish sans shells but with plenty of that delicious bread to soak up the buttery dressing. 

The FDiL's mussels disappeared rapidly and she confirmed they were tasty, perfectly cooked and there was not a single closed shell.

For Les Plats, the main course, FDiL chose Coquelet de Citron. This was described as "Whole, free-range baby chicken, roasted with lemon & tomato rosemary sauce, served with fries."

chicken in a lemon and tomato sauce at Le Garrick

My choice was made more tricky after I was offered the specials menu and I eventually chose from that, opting for roasted guinea fowl supreme which sat atop cabbage and cherry sauce.

Roast Guinea Fowl supreme at Le Garrick French restaurant

The guinea fowl was gorgeous. Cooked to perfection and still beautifully tender which is a credit to the chef as it's easy to overcook. The cherry sauce was sharp but not overly so and the whole dish was a joy to eat. I *may* have added a bowl of frites to my order, partly because I'm a sucker for carbs and partly because I saw some going past and couldn't miss out.

The FDiL was very pleased with her chicken, especially the sauce which on paper may sound a little unusual but she said had the perfect blend of citrus and tomato. She also had frites which came with her meal and there was not a single one of the more-ish skinny fries left on her plate.

We were both quite full by the this point but what kind of restaurant critic would I be if I didn't sacrifice my waistline to be able to share a review of the deserts?

I was keeping everything crossed that this restaurant, serving classic French food as it does, would have my favourite Gallic desert on the menu. Sure enough, top of the list, there it was, Creme Brûlée which is my all time fave.

creme brûlée

Throwing caution to the wind (I usually avoid eating dairy) I ordered it and was not disappointed by the generously sized pud with the signature crunchy sugar topping. The FDiL was struggling by this point but chose three scoops of different flavoured ice-cream.

ice cream

The meal had an exciting and unexpected finale. It turns out that when you eat at Le Garrick you will be given a secret password (in French naturellement) which gives diners a little extra at the end of the meal. No, I'm not going to tell you the password!

You can use this password every time you go to receive a free shot of potent Eau de Vie or water of life. It's a grappa style liqueur which warms you through and gives you a lovely buzz as you exit the restaurant into the bustling London street just a stone's throw away from Covent Garden Piazza and Leicester Square. 

Le Garrick prides itself on creating a family of its customers and intends to carry on doing this for years to come.

I have to say that this aspect for me was one of the high points of our visit. Yes there are a million restaurants serving good food in London but Le Garrick should be very proud of the very welcoming   front of house team who seemed to genuinely care about giving us a good experience.

OK so they knew we were there to review but listening carefully I could hear other diners getting the same friendly welcome and service. 

Le Garrick above all has a beautiful ambience. This is not a "best dress and cutting edge food and decor" venue, this is an "elbows on the table, wear your stretchy pants, relax and enjoy" venue where couples can enjoy the aura of romance that the French pride themselves on and groups of friends can laugh, chat and feast on good, well cooked Gallic classics.

Despite the makeover the restaurant retains an air of shabby chicness with candlelight, rustic tables and chairs and no real strict code. This is not a bad thing - I loved the decor which enhances the cosiness of the restaurant.

Le Garrick doesn't feel at all touristy despite the incredible location and it baffles me why anyone would eat at pricey identikit chain restaurants when you have places like this independent, family owned gem beating them on price, quality and ambience.

Upstairs at Le Garrick

Eat downstairs for the most intimate experience (perfect for date night or bigger groups) with it's many nooks and crannies, or ask for a table in the small upstairs indoors area or outside in the street to enjoy watching the world go by. Booking is advised - check the website for details of how to do this by phone or using the online booking tool.

Charles Lepelletier, owner of Le Garrick commented:

'I fell in love with Le Garrick the moment I stepped inside as a customer all those years ago. There is unique ambiance to this restaurant that reaches far beyond the food, service and atmosphere... it has an indefinable, elusive quality, a je ne sais quoi to it, and it’s my privilege to look after this. And don’t forget, this is where my wife and I met, and now we run the restaurant as a family... "
This owner's passion for Le Garrick shows in the food and the service. If you haven't been yet, add it to your bucket list. It's a London institution which mustn't be missed.

If you are reading this before Sunday July 14, 2019 good news! You can claim 15% off your total bill on that Sunday which is Bastille Day. 

Bastille Day discount offer at Le Garrick, Covent Gardenm London

Missed out or not able to make that date? Check out the Le Garrick website for details of their Club Dejeuner. Join up for free and receive a loyalty card giving you 15% off all year round (subject to certain conditions outlined on the website). 

Disclaimer: We enjoyed our meal free for the purpose of writing this honest review.