We came to Cafe des Amis on a Monday evening in February and found it completely full, a remarkable achievement for any restaurant, but especially one as well-hidden as this. Yet it was not hard to see why Cafe des Amis has established itself as a firm favourite with London's theatre-goers.
This is smart brasserie fare at its most authentic, and its most comfortingly excessive. The crab cocktail was a knockout, mixing strong fishy flavours with crisp salad and a horseradish kick. Tuna steak was genuinely seared - frying flavours on the outside, sushi in the middle. Vegetables and sauces were unflashy, and full of bite and butter, and a selection of chocolate puddings were terrifyingly dark and luscious.
For those who have little experience of real French cooking, there will be some surprises in store. There are few restaurants in London that would have the confidence to produce a menu where half the dishes were cold, salads were slathered in a dressing so vinegary that it almost made your eyes water, and the fish tasted so very strongly of the sea.
This is the genuine article, and it tastes superb. Still, you might want to bring some mints if you're meeting people later.
Cafe des Amis is now open on Sundays, 11am till 4pm, serving a special brunch menu.
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