As a wise person once said, ‘if you’ve seen a pissed UCL student straddling a Trafalgar Square lion at 2am, then you’ve seen it all’. Okay, yes, we said that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Like all Londoners, we see a lot. Joy. Tragedy. Far too much public urination. It’s almost impossible to surprise us. Which is exactly why it’s so impressive that Brasserie Zedel in Soho does exactly that.
This place is huge. But most of it’s underground. You enter through their small, boulevard style cafe area just off of Piccadilly Circus and you’ll either think ‘oh look, someone raided the set of Moulin Rouge, how exciting’ or, if you’re a proper Londoner, ‘good god, not another faux French restaurant’. It doesn’t matter, just keep walking. Once you’ve gone down the red carpeted steps, and under the chandelier that probably belonged to Mariah Carey in a former life, you’ll get to the brasserie. Stop. Give yourself a second to take it all in. High ceilings, countless tables, marble pillars, pink tablecloths, and the buzz of two hundred people talking over their boeuf bourguignon. It’s the kind of room where you half expect to see Zelda Fitzgerald tucking into a tarte au citron in the back corner and tapping her toe when the live band gets started. But the fact that all of this happening beneath Piccadilly Circus isn’t the biggest surprise. It’s the prices.
The set menu at Brasserie Zedel is the stuff of London legend. Beyond telling people who are new to this city that ‘cosy basement flat’ is code for mould dungeon, getting involved in the set menu here is the best advice we can give. For just over a tenner you can get a two course meal of steak haché and chips, and a chocolate délice. You’ll see fearful Londoners initially reacting to the prices the same way they’d hide from someone shouting “FREE HUGS” on Oxford Street. It’s madness. Affordable, unheard-of-in-zone-one madness.
The thing is, even if the filet de daurade or the escargots catch your eye and you go à la carte you can still get three course and wine here and leave less than £50 lighter. Then, after the bill, the fun isn’t over. You can walk across the shiny tiled lobby to either their slick cocktail spot, Bar Americain, or their live music cabaret venue, Crazy Coqs. Or, fuck it, both. Think of it as a trip to the circus for grown ups who enjoy watching Jean-Luc Godard films on the weekend, like the nostalgia of a proper vestiaire, and appreciate a well made old fashioned after their magret de canard.
You should know that the French food here isn’t the best you’ll find in London, and don’t be surprised if the longer you listen to your French waiter’s accent the more convinced you are they’re Italian. Of course you’re not really in 1930s Paris. You’re pretending. The central location, set menu options, and that big, beautiful space make it a restaurant you’ll use and enjoy time and time again. For high romance, low price date nights. For before the theatre. Or after. For impressing out of towners. For quick fire business lunches in, deep breath, Soho. Or even for feel good birthdays where you know everyone can afford a three course meal.
What’s the catch? Surprise, there isn’t one.
Shoutout to all our carnivores out there - this is a pretty baller way of starting a meal at Brasserie Zedel. Mostly because it’s a great excuse to ask for another basket of free bread.
Ah, the humble quiche. Not just for picnics, but for life. This is a good one but also not a must-order.
Turns out raw meat, egg, and feeling like you just wound up in Midnight In Paris is a winning combination. If you’re a tartare fan, get involved.
Thank you. That’s all we have to say to this £9.95 steak that let us pretend we were classy when we were students. And realistically, that’s still the case now. It’s not the best piece of meat you’ll ever eat, but who cares, it’s your ticket to this space and the peppercorn sauce is a winner.
Brasserie Zedel also have a vegetarian menu that they keep on the down low. You’ll find this spinach and cream cheese pastry on it, and, vegetarian or not, you should order it. One of the best things here.
This is what you get at Brasserie Zedel when you want something light because you know you’re about to get a little bit dirty with the cheese trolley. It’s tasty, has a solid hit of lemon, and the fish is cooked well.
Are you going to write about this in the footnotes of your memoir? Nah, but it is really tasty and a very decent portion size. Plus, that luminous green garlic butter might give you some new ideas for that bold new bedroom colour scheme.
This dessert is what our grandad would refer to as a ‘zinger’. We’re not going to call it that but let’s just say, he wouldn’t be wrong.
At under a fiver this ile flottante is sweet and undeniably cheap. Just like us.
What we have here is a big bowl of chocolate. Nothing more, nothing less. The kind of thing you wish could be hand delivered to you the day after a break up. It says it’s for two, but go ahead and take that as more of suggestion than the law.