When this is published, I’ve just arrived in Paris for a long weekend. I want long walks, plenty of kir royal and at least one steak tartare. To get myself in the mood for the trip, I met a friend at L’escargot blanc for French food and a catch-up.
I don’t think it’s a secret that I like French food and that I’m a fan of L’escargot bleu on Broughton Street. L’escargot blanc is the sister restaurant in the West End. It’s been a while since I’ve visited the upstairs – recently, I’ve spent a lot of time in Bar a vin downstairs. I was early, so had a glass downstairs before my friend arrived. I tried an intriguing red that we decided to have with dinner.
We perused the menu over a glass of pastis. L’escargot blanc offers authentic, honest and seasonal French food. This year, they raised and butchered a Mangalitsa pig, a rare Bulgarian breed, in collaboration with Gorgie City Farm. When we were visiting, the loin was on the menu. I’m not usually big on pork but you don’t get more local than this so I decided to be adventurous. My friend joined me.
Who doesn’t love a gastropod?
I started with snails; my companion has a much smaller appetite than I do so saved space for pudding.
Jay Rayner tells a wonderful story about eating snails in a ski resort as a child. I love that story (you can read it in The Man Who Ate the World) and I think of it when I eat snails. The garlic, the heat, the wonder of ickle slimy critters turned into luxurious bundles of joy. You get 12 snails and, it turns out, that’s quite a lot. To ensure I had room for pork I left some of the garlic butter (which was very difficult because there was lovely bread to soak it up with and that garlic butter is utterly more-ish. It called to me).
When the pork came, it was perfect. Mangalitsa is nicely marbled so it was juicy and flavourful. It had great texture and really good flavour. Simply excellent. I know I’m gushing but if all pork was like that, I’d eat it a lot more often.
Instead of pudding, we decided to have cheese. L’escargot blanc is one of those places where you really should have the cheese – it’s ripe, varied and interesting. Delicious.
After mint teas and a couple of armagnacs, it was time to leave. We were there to catch up: there was a lot of chatting to do. We were both heading for Paris and had tips to share about what to do when we got there. The food, and the friendly service, made us feel welcome and comfortable. We had great food, lovely wine and a lot of conversation. It was just what the doctor ordered. We’re meeting up again in late November to compare notes on our respective Paris trips. I think I know where we’re going.
17 Queensferry Street
Edinburgh, EH2 4QW
Telephone: 0131 226 1890