The last couple of years have seen an influx of high-quality, cheap barbecue shacks into Soho – so is the competition making this cosy, Gallic dining room feel dated? The hordes of after-work twirtysomethings who continue to pack it out certainly don’t think so.
There are undeniably antiquated touches: staff attempt to lure customers into spending £10 more than the price of house wine by plonking £25 bottles of Chianti on tables. And the astonishingly long menu (15 starters and 18 main courses including no less than four variations on steak- frites) tends to opt for quantity of over quality. A portion of mushroom parcels featuring big, tacky pastry squares with scant filling failed to impress; neither did the chewy skin of twice-roasted belly pork served with dry mash; but the rich tomato ragoût topping tender spatchcocked baby chicken was better.
Cooking might be variable, and mains cost a not-inconsiderable £13 or thereabouts, but there’s no denying the charming, low-lit ambience of this perennially popular restaurant. It has a sense of humour too. The main stylistic touch paying homage to the venue’s French theme? A giant plastic frog squatting in the corner.