22 September 2022
Les 110 de Taillevent
By John Watson
To some readers the name Taillevent evokes 14th century French cookery, as the nickname for Guillaume Tirel, chef to Philip VI, Charles V and Charles VI and author of Le Viandier on which much of France’s gastronomic regime is founded. Others will think primarily of the products branded with his name, like the tinned lampreys you buy in the Bordeaux market. To me, however, the main association is with a restaurant, not the famous Le Taillevent in Paris with its Michelin stars, but Les 110 de Taillevent, its offshoot in Cavendish Square at which four of us dined last week.
To eat at Les 110 de Taillevent is not just to enjoy good food, although you will certainly do that, but also to receive an education. An education in what, exactly? Well, the clue is in the name. The ‘110’ is a reference to the number of different wines they sell by the glass, kept fresh by the latest vacuum-creating technology.
And that for me is the point. If you go onto their site you can review the choice of food but the menu you are presented with at your table suggests four wine matches for each dish with a price for a large or small glass. The matching is highly innovative. As someone used to serving a Bordeaux with lamb I was surprised to see a suggestion of a cooled Cabernet Franc from the Loire. But tasting the freshness with which it cut the richness of the meat I wondered why anyone ever drank anything else. A tokay with chicken liver crème brûlée, a marc de gewürztraminer with a citrus and honey dessert, the choices made with the help of the expert sommelier were eye-opening and then we all tasted each other’s food and sipped each other’s wine, all the time comparing flavours and bouquets. What a splendid way to spend an evening.
It is fairly expensive, of course, with the bill for four coming out at around £500, but for that you get a lot: good food, good wine and plenty of entertainment. You could of course order your wine by the bottle from their extensive cellar and no doubt the experts will do that. For the rest of us, however, that would be to miss out on a great deal of fun.