Brummell recommends: Margot

Elegant Italian cooking and handsome surrounds make this one of Covent Garden’s classiest restaurants

Food and Drink 2 Jan 2020

Carpaccio di pesce spada, Swordish carpaccio with aubergine, radish, black olives and white balsamic vinegar
Tagliolini con astice Sozzese, tagliolini with lobster, spring onions and tomatoes
Carpaccio di spigola, sea bass carpaccio with Campari and orange dressing, cucumber and shallots
Linguine con vongole, linguine with clams, white wine garlic, chilli and parsley

The background

Margot occupies a fantastic site between Holborn and Covent Garden on Great Queen Street. It’s the creation of Paulo de Tarso, former maître d’ at Knightsbridge’s Bar Boulud, and Nicolas Jaouën, former manager of Mayfair’s La Petite Maison. The pair worked together at Scott’s before opening Margot and have brought a good dose of savoir faire from the London stalwart to their new venture.

Margot restaurant in Covent Garden
Margot restaurant in Covent Garden

The space

Margot possesses resolutely old-school glamour minus any stuffiness. The restaurant spans two floors with burnished fittings, white tablecloths and leather banquets. It’s buzzy without feeling crowded. The first floor boasts large windows overlooking Great Queen Street that give a light feel to the space – the tables next to the windows are understandably the most coveted. The staff are dressed to the nines in sharp suits, dinner jackets and smart black dresses. It’s no wonder that in the short time Margot has been open it has attracted a Mayfair/Upper East Side-style crowd alongside the foodies who are there for a really good plate of pasta.

The menu

Traditional Italian is the order of the day with antipasti to start, alongside an impressive range of cheese, salumi, carpaccio and tartare. The poached duck egg with truffle and Parmesan polenta and king oyster mushrooms is one of the standout dishes, offering a soft and mouth-watering start. Of the carpaccio, the swordfish with aubergine, radish, olive and white balsamic is another highlight with the strength of the fish matched rather than overpowered by its accompaniments.

One would be remiss to dine at Margot and not try one of the restaurant’s superlative pasta dishes from the primi piatti menu. Margot is a restaurant that really lik  es its truffles, and knows how to use them to devastating effect. When the season is right, the restaurant has an additional truffle menu that is always worth considering. If you’ve satisfied your hankering for truffle already, however, the tagliolini with lobster is an exquisitely flavoured and moreish pasta dish, as is the crab ravioli with mascarpone, saffron sauce, cherry tomatoes and basil. Of the secondi piatti, the ossobuco with saffron risotto is wonderfully rich with deep umami flavours and the roasted stone bass with tomatoes, capers, olives and lemon offers a perfectly balanced, fresh taste of the Mediterranean.

Of the desserts, the Crema al limone e Meringa all’italiana is a wonderfully light and sophisticated take on a traditional lemon meringue pie. The mascarpone and fig tart is equally indulgent and fresh and the gianduja chocolate, pine nut and hazelnut parfait is finished with salted caramel for a gooey, crunchy and irresistible crescendo.

The drinks

Margot’s walls are lined with wine bottles so it’s clear from the outset that this restaurant takes its oenology seriously. The list has an expected and wholly welcome Italian focus, with bottles from all parts of the country including a number from Sicily and Sardinia and with a large number available by the glass or carafe including sparkling and sweet varieties. There is also a wide choice of vintages from France, plus a good selection from Spain, Portugal and Germany, as well as a range of new-world wines. Bottles start at a very reasonable £26 and run to the thousands so there’s something for every budget and inclination, with Margot’s team of expert sommeliers on hand to help select the right bottle for the occasion.

Margot also serves a collection of wonderful cocktails to start the meal, all with a certain Italian flair, including the delicious Royal Sling, crafted from Chivas Regal 12-year-old whisky, Averna Amaro, Heering cherry Liqueur and oak bitters and the refreshing Mrs Greene, a compelling concoction of Dupont Hors d’age Calvados, cucumber, lemon juice and prosecco.

The bill

Three courses with cocktails and a bottle of wine for two, around £150.

In summary

Margot is eminently classy in every aspect: superb cooking, friendly and professional service and a wonderful atmosphere. It’s a great spot for business lunches or dinners as well as dates, celebrations or a good plate of pasta and a glass of wine with friends.

Margot, 45 Great Queen St, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AA,