3 weeks ago, I received a call on my cell phone telling me the good news about Bel Canto. The Parisian chain restaurant is coming to London. First of all, I have to say I was impressed by this call. I have tried Bel Canto in Paris near Hotel de Ville about 2 years ago. After all this time, the management have kept my cell phone number and also remembered that I live in London. Very impressive.
We went to try Bel Canto last Friday evening after a hard working week. I was really looking forward to it, I needed to be entertained. We arrived at 8pm after wandering around the Monument tube station area to find the place. From the entrance door, you need to take an elevator which takes you down to the restaurant on a lower ground floor. Then you have a room where people take your coats and lead you to the huge restaurant room separated by a red curtain. We wait a bit before entering the restaurant as we hear Operia Arias sung live in the restaurant. Because this restaurant works because of the singers. Waiters and opera singers are on the same team. They serve courses on the table and they stop now and then to sing known or unknowns arias during your dinner. The acoustic of the room for live opera singing is very good. You really get the music to your ears. In the middle of the dinner, you have a surprise which I won't disclose for your benefits. Now Bel Canto is not just about live Opera singing. You also come for the food. Bel Canto has a set menu with a fixed price of £65 per person (+ 12.5% service charge). The menu gives you plenty of choice for starters and main courses. Food takes its inspiration from France and Italy. I decided to bring the Gallic dishes to our table. After a glass of champagne (charged at £11 per glass), we tried the casserole of snails and wild mushrooms. It was forgettable because of lack of flavors (the chef forgot the salt and could have added some herbs and a bit of garlic). For the main course, I gave a try to the Fillet of beef with pan fried foie gras. The beef was excellent, tender and cooked to perfection (which is "rare" for me). The foie gras however was way overcooked (it reminded me of chicken livers actually). My wife really enjoyed the "Pot au Feu" with quality meat on the plate. Finally for dessert, I took the Apple Souffle served with Calvados sorbet and nougatine. This was really one of the top dessert I have eaten in London restaurants. My wife and I enjoyed every minute of it. Singers came to talk to us and let us know about what they were singing (which opera, the story...), what they were doing in London. Staff is very nice and pays attention to you from the beginning to the end. I was surprised that in a big city like London, we didn't have this restaurant concept knowing the passion that Londoners have for Opera (see how difficult it is to secure seats at Covent Garden). Today, we have Bel Canto. And I am sure after some corrections in their recipes, this place will become famous among couples and also business dinners to impress clients or prospects. It is however quite expensive. We had a special offer because the restaurant has only opened 2 weeks ago. If we had to pay full price, the bill would have reached a whopping £120 per person...For this price, you can enjoy a Michelin star restaurant. This is where I have doubts whether people would pay this price for this restaurant. The future will tell us very soon. This is just the beginning for Bel Canto London.