Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pierre Victoire - Faded charm in Soho

Back when we were new to London, we spent many a happy evening dawdling in Soho's labyrinth. But job locations moved and the penchant for late nights was all but extinguished by the reality of early mornings at the coal face. Our visits to Soho grew much less frequent, though for that perhaps all the more cherished. Most recently, bewildered by all the new places springing up on every corner, we decided to revisit an old favourite. Pierre Victoire captures the gallic romance with dark wooden tables, dripping candles and a slightly shaby yet cosy atmosphere. The place is at it's best when there is someone tinkering on the battered old piano by the door and you get their early enough to grab a seat in the ground floor room (avoid the dull, windowless cellar) and to catch the bargainous pre-theatre menu (about £9 for 2 courses). We got there late, which meant there were seats, but no music and no cheap menu. The house red (£10.90) was pretty ropey, but was infinitely improved by the accompaniment of smooth, home-made houmous (£2.90) and a basket of warm baguette slices. My duck breast (£12.90) with green peppercorn sauce and dauphinoise potatoes was pretty good, much as you would expect from your average French brasserie. But the husband's ribe-eye steak proved a disappointment - the accompanying sauce was hopelessly bland with little trace of the promised pepper and blue cheese, while the meat itself was a bit stringy. All in all, the charm seems to have faded somewhat (though may be we have just become more fussy), but I'd say this place is still well worth a visit if you get there early enough for the pre-theatre bargains.

Pierre Victoire, 5 Dean Street, W1D 3RQ; Tel. 02072874582; Tube. Tottenham Court Rd

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