Le Salon Prive has been open since 2015, with its head chef and owner Gianluca di Monaco. He worked for a time as a sous chef for Pierre Koffmann as well as working at the late lamented Apsleys. The dining room is cosy and the tables quite well spaced. In addition to the a la carte menu here was a three-course lunch menu available at £28.50 and a three-course dinner option for £36.50.
The short wine list had 15 labels and ranged in price from £23 to £57, with a median price of £33 and an average markup to retail price of 2.8 times, which is very fair in this day and age. Sample references were Cave de Labastide de Levis Terrane Sauvignon Blanc 2021 at £28 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Chateau Barade 2018 at £33 compared to its retail price of £12, and Rioja Reserva Gavanza Bodega Maetierra Dominum 2015 at £39 for a wine that will set you back £17 in the high street.
Scallops came with pulled pork, celeriac puree, hazelnuts and saffron sauce. The pulled pork was excellent and the hazelnuts provided a useful textural contrast while the earthy celeriac was a good balancing flavour for the shellfish. The scallops were carefully cooked but the quality of them (imported American scallops) was decent rather than top-notch. Really high-grade Scottish scallops such as those from around Orkney are an expensive product so I can understand why the restaurant feels the need to compromise here given its price point. However, I would personally rather see a pricier starter and a really top-notch scallop, given that it is the main focus of this dish (13/20).
Rabbit terrine with a slab of foie gras, apple terrine, pickled cherries and toasted brioche. This was a nicely balanced dish, the acidity of the cherries and apple cutting through the richness of the liver and the rabbit. The terrine itself had very good texture and the foie gras was pleasingly smooth (14/20).
A pre-ordered dish of pig’s trotters was a deliberate harking back to the days of Pierre Koffmann, who the chef used to work with. This is an elaborate and quite rich dish, served with some braised cabbage. The trotter was stuffed with veal sweetbreads that had been roasted in butter, as well as chicken mousse, button mushrooms and ceps (the original recipe used morels but these are not in season at this time of year), onion and a little parsley. The chicken mousse is made from a puree of chicken with cream and egg white, and then combined with the sweetbread. The trotters themselves were braised for four hours with carrots and onion as well as wine, port and veal stock. The trotter skin is then filled with the chicken and sweetbread mixture rolled up and finally cooked in the oven (or a steamer, as you prefer). As can be seen, this is not a trivial dish to make and the version here was very good indeed, rich and served with a little pomme puree and a sauce of the cooking juices. I recall eating the original dish at Koffman at The Berkeley hotel when it was open and also (showing my age) at La Tante Claire, which ran from 1977 to 1998 and this was certainly a very nice rendition. The cabbage on the side was a good idea for balance but could have been improved, the vegetable seeming a little past its prime to me. However, this did not distract from the pigs trotter itself, which was lovely (easily 15/20).
We also had a plate of cheese in good condition. For dessert, a pair of lemon madeleines were made in the kitchen and nicely made, with a comfortingly soft texture (14/20). A chocolate fondant with Tia Maria ice cream was one of the alternative desserts, to give an idea of the menu. The coffee was from HR Higgins, a good supplier.
Service was fine, and the bill came to £128 per person, which reflected the effort involved in the pig trotter dish. A typical starter here is around £15 and a main course just under £30, with desserts around a tenner. If you had coffee and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £95. Le Salon Prive delivers more than you might expect for a neighbourhood restaurant, with the considerable experience of the chef showing through in some very well-executed classical cooking.