The pineapple is one fruit that falls into the difficult category. It’s not easily eaten – hard and abrasive on the exterior, but delightful inside.
Ananas is the French word for pineapple and the name of the latest restaurant within The Argyle building’s walls. It’s appropriately hard to find on first visit but harbours a Gallic-flavoured treat inside.
Tucked away to the right of the main Argyle entrance, it’s easy to walk past into the main courtyard. Formerly part of the Lowenbrau Keller German beer emporium, it has been given a French kiss to become part oyster bar, 1920s late-night drinking den and restaurant. French chef Jerome Lagarde is in control of the kitchen after a 10-year stint in Hong Kong and the Michelin three-star Sens & Bund in Shanghai to concoct what is really best described as ‘fusion’, if you dare.
Pineapples pepper the décor, if not the menu – just take a look at the lighting. The cocktail list is often tropically fruity while the menu offers a modern twist on Gallic sensibilities. Beef tartare, a rather old-fashioned European standard, is given a slightly Asian citrus tang, while the Scotch egg gets the multi-hatted treatment with smoked cream and sautéed porcini. But the lamb shoulder, which is cooked for 36 hours and deconstructed on the plate with polenta fingers and liquorice jus, is just delicious.
The small army of waiters all seem to be genuinely French and the service assumes the guise of old school courtesy. There’s certainly a Moulin Rouge, upmarket bordello feel about Ananas, even if the name is slightly silly. But playfulness seems to be par for the course, with Snickers appearing on the dessert menu. All the ingredients of the workingman’s choc bar are there, but as if a mad scientist had decided to operate on the innards to create a caramel and peanut creature that’s just plain fun.
And by encouraging the French mentality of dining late but very well, Ananas is open until 3am from Thursday to Saturday night. Bon nuit!