I think this chain sometimes gets unjustly bad press. As chains go, it's reliable and reasonable value (especially if you have some of their money off vouchers - just sign up for a newsletter on www.santeonline.co.uk). The Victoria branch is conveniently just outside the tube/train station in a grand old building which is also used by the Thistle hotels chain.
Inside, you can easily pretend that you are in a grand French brasserie, with high ceilings, a long dark-wooden bar and people sipping cappuccinos or champagne. There are two options - the restaurant menu noticeable for its selection of steaks (I recommend the onglet, it's one of the cheapest at about £10, but is nonetheless a really nice cut of meat) and the lighter cafe menu with salads and croques. I had the goat's cheese salad (£8.75), which was authentic tasting and about the right size for lunch. My companion had the chicken salad, a bit more substantial for £9.95. There's of course a reasonable wine list, though you have to look at the prices - I think for £6 my glass of champagne (what's wrong with decadence once in a while?!) was much better value than my companion's similarly priced large chardonnay. They also do good-value set menus, with two courses for £13.50.
The service is friendly enough, and a lot of the staff are French. Another branch that's worth remembering is behind the National Theatre and is one of the best pre-performance options in that area (by virtue of being preferable to pizza express!).
Chez Gerard; Thistle Hotel; 101 Buckingham Palace Road,Victoria, London SW1W 0SJ Tel: 020 7868 6249. Tube: Victoria; www.brasseriechezgerard.co.uk