Tried & Tested

Restaurant check: Bistro du Vin Soho

6 Aug 2011 by Tom Otley

Background: the Hotel du Vin chain of hotels which has been around since 1994 has vied for the Best Smaller Hotel Chain prize in the Business Traveller UK awards for the last 10 years in competition with sister brand Malmaison.

Both brands focus on food and wine, and so the new spin-off Bistro du Vin restaurants are a natural extension of the du Vin brand. The first opened in Clerkenwell, London in April 2011 and this second in London’s Soho in June 2011 on the site of the old Las Iguanas restaurant, thought the interior is completely remodelled. There are plans for several more (8-10 over a two year period), with possible London locations including Shoreditch, Chiswick, Kensington and Notting Hill. There are currently no plans for it to be rolled out beyond London.

What’s it like? A reasonably large (110 cover) restaurant with a long bar with very comfortable bar chairs and booth-like seating around the walls.

The whole offering is designed to be as inviting as possible and the philosophy of “We don't do pretentious” is backed up by the menu – one large A3 bit of card (to see it, click here) and the surroundings – smart, but not distracting, or as the website has it:

“Fresh, light and natural finishes such as, concrete, taupe granite, aged brass, coral, stone and olive boiled wools and pale olive leather banquette seating, distressed oak tables create an honest, calming, timeless classic new bistro interior with a nod to New England proportions.“

Even the presentation of the food when it arrives is non-fussy. This isn’t a place that puts one item on top of another on top of another. Since it was a Friday evening, we spent an hour at the bar before sitting down, and there’s a good menu of drinks by the glass or cocktails, including some expertly made Martinis as well as long drinks such as Green Snapper: Hendrick’s gin, celery, cucumber, apple, sherry, Tabasco, coriander. There is also a wine machine for dispensing fine wines by the glass, and a separate menu for these.

As with many restaurants today, “homegrown and local” is an aim, though since this is a French-influenced restaurant, and meat is a big part of the menu, thankfully rather than just north of Oxford Street the cattle are raised north of the Border and sourced from Donald Russell, "...supplier of gourmet steaks, naturally reared and traditionally matured beef, pork and lamb."

The service was good – fresh, unformulaic, and personable, which made up for slight inexperience – not being able to explain the difference between the choice of steak sauces, for instance was a minor matter, and the Iberico bellota ham starter £10.50, matured for 30 months was delicious. The two steaks – Rib eye 250g (Cumbrian rare breed) £24.00 and a Sirloin 300g (Belted Galloway) (24.00) were both perfectly done and in our judgement were superb meat. The side orders - glazed carrots, ratatouille, haricot vert with remolata, potato purée, heritage new potatoes, pomme frites, mixed salad, tomato & red onion salad - were all £3.50 and came in good size portions.

The wine list, as you’d expect, is extensive, with over 200 wines ranging from £16.50 for a house white - 2009 Hotel du Vin Chardonnay, Sieur d'Arques, Limoux  up to £310 for the red 2001 Penfolds Grange, South Australia, but there’s lots to explore in-between, and it is by no means all French or even Old World.

For private parties there are a couple of options - Le Salon at the back of the restaurant can cater for private parties for drinks and canapes up to 50 people, the wine cellar can seat six and a larger group could take over the rear half of the restaurant.

Verdict: a place for both business and pleasure. Fams of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison will love it.

Bistro du Vin Soho, 36 Dean Street, London W1D 4PS, Telephone: 02074324800, Email: [email protected] 

Opening Times:

  • Brunch & Pastries, Monday - Saturday: from 10.00, Sunday: from Noon
  • Lunch, Monday - Friday: 12.00 to 14.30, Saturday & Sunday: 12.00 to 15.00
  • Dinner, Monday - Saturday: 17.00 to 22.30, Sunday: 18.00 to 22.00
  • Cheese, Charcuterie and Bar Snacks, Monday - Saturday: 12.00 to 22.30; Sunday: 12.00 to 22.00

Tom Otley

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