Test Driving Margot in Covent Garden - a classic Italian restaurant with top notch service

ravioliRavioli di pesce - Selection of fish ravioli with grey mullet bottarga

What can you tell us about Margot?

Margot's an Italian restaurant that's been the creation of two of London's top people in restaurant service. That's Paulo De Tarso, best known as the former Maitre D of Bar Boulud London, and Nicolas Jaouën, who was general manager of Mayfair’s La Petite Maison. 

So service should be top notch, yes?

Indeed it is. In fact, we can't think of a restaurant recently where we've seen more staff on the floor - service is VERY important here and everything pretty much worked like clockwork on our visit. 

Who's it suitable for?

That focus on service should be your guide here - if you want to be looked after to within an inch of your life, or are taking out someone who likes being cosseted, then this is the space for you.  

tartare2Tartara di manzo - Beef tartare, black truffle, scrambled eggs

And what kind of food can we expect?

In charge of the kitchen is Head Chef Maurizio Morelli, previously at Latium restaurant. He's put together a classic Italian menu for Margot. 

Where is it?

They've taken over the large site on Great Queen Street, just opposite the Freemason's Hall (where Moti Matal used to be) - so it's a prime corner location. And just a couple of minutes from Covent Garden tube. 

Where should we meet for a drink first?

Our favourite nearby location is definitely the 10 Cases, but it can be a struggle to grab a table there on a busy night. Perhaps Margot is missing a trick here - they have a rather beautiful, but tiny, bar downstairs with more dining space. That could be a prime opportunity for a basement bar which this area of town is lacking, particularly now that Cafe des Amis has shut down. 

vitelloVitello tonnato - Roast veal, tuna and mayonnaise sauce, baby carrots and green bean salad

Where should we sit?

The booths by the windows will likely be the most prized spaces, but on a previous quick visit we really loved the comfy stools up at the bar too - it's a great space for counter dining. . 

Wherever you sit, you'll notice the attention to detail at Margot, something that no doubt comes from the background of the team in charge. We noticed a lot of nice touches, like decoration that made a waiter station a feature rather than something to disguise. It makes you feel that the team have really sat in each chair to check the view and experience.

And what about the food?

The menu is best described as a mix of old school and contemporary Italian. We thought the best was to be found in the starters and mains. Our specific recommendations are:

  • Tartara di manzo - Beef tartare, black truffle, scrambled eggs (£13.50) - we've had beef tartare at many a restaurant but quite loved this version - the scrambled eggs working surprisingly well 
  • Vitello tonnato - Roast veal, tuna and mayonnaise sauce, baby carrots and green bean salad (13.00) - this is a go-to dish whenever it appears on the menu, we can't help but order it, and the version at Margot was pretty darned good. 
  • Tagliatelle con ragú di lepre -  Tagliatelle with hare ragu (12.00 starter price) - great pasta, and a good twist on a traditional ragu
  • Ravioli di pesce - Selection of fish ravioli, grey mullet bottarga (12.00 starter price) - certainly the most instagrammable dish on the menu, a selection of ravioli, made from different pasta and fillings. 
  • Ossobuco di vitello - Baked veal ossobuco, saffron risotto “alla Milanese”, veal jus (28.00) - a great comfort dish

And we'll also give a shout out to their olive oil - they make a show of pouring it from a stainless steel jug. Yes, it's a little old-school, but we found it charming. 

raguTagliatelle con ragú di lepre - Tagliatelle with hare ragu

And how about drinks?

If you can, start things off with a cocktail, priced at £9 - £9.50, they're another reason which makes us wish this had a separate bar. Wine starts at £5.50 a glass (125ml) for a Disznoko Tokaji. We're pleased to see that they have carafes too (always a must when the standard pour is 125ml in our opinion). 

Overall thoughts?

We've gradually seen Covent Garden dining go through something of a renaissance over the past couple of years. What was once a somewhat difficult place to get a decent bite is now graced with Barrafina, Opera Tavern, Cafe Murano and more besides. And Margot is another good addition to the scene - it may seem a little old school, but we think it's this kind of restaurant that Covent Garden simply doesn't have at the moment - adding a touch of Mayfair to the area (without the Mayfair prices). 

Margot is at 45 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AA. Find out more about Margot.

Hot Dinners were invited to Margot. Prices are correct at the time of writing.