Jean Jacques is a new French brasserie and wine bar, set over three floors of a Soho townhouse, whilst it might be a celebration of Jean Jacques Rousseau., it actually comes from a Russian restaurant group. There’s a cosy cocktail bar in the basement, handy for any Ronnie Scott’s overspill, and a lovely little roof terrace on the first floor, for alfresco dining and drinking.
The menu features all the French classics that you’d expect from a Russian restaurant – steak tartare, onion soup, poussin and so on. We started with the snails, which were fine, a little under-salted, and the scallops St. Jacques, which my husband said were “unremarkable” although I disagreed somewhat.
I steered him towards the duck for his main because I knew he wanted the rib-eye, and I cannot bear to watch him pour his béarnaise sauce on top of the steak, like custard, rather than to the side of it. But I let him think the duck was his idea by raising the fact that the pommes frites were extra, which is always a source of great annoyance to him: – “Who orders JUST A STEAK? Why not just charge an extra £3 for the steak and INCLUDE the chips?” – “Yes, dear, the duck comes with some companions; go for that”.
His duck was good but my rib eye was excellent. The béarnaise, to the side of my steak as it should be, was good too. The mixed-greens came in a small frying pan so lost points immediately on arrival, and my mixed leaf salad did very little other than serve to make me feel better that there was at least one vegetable in my meal.
My pudding, a chocolate fondant, was rather a let-down as it was too salty, and I couldn’t finish the peanut brittle it came with as I was worried about chipping a tooth. My husband had the crème brulee, which was very good and made up for the disappointing chocolate fondant.
There may be more authentic French dining experiences in town but I hope Jean-Jacques is a success: the position it occupies is fantastic and the staff are charming, even if the service was a little slow.