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Bistro du Vin (CLOSED)

Restaurants, French Soho

Time Out says

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Please note, this branch of Bistro du Vin has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2019.

The Hotel du Vin group owns a series of hotels, all outside London, which combine chic residences with well-stocked bars and upmarket Anglo-French bistros that cannily adapt themselves to their affluent locations. The company obviously has confidence enough in their dining concept, because this Soho outpost is the second of their standalone restaurants to open in London in a few months – the first was in Clerkenwell.

You might expect that when opening in Soho, the cultural epicentre of the city, Bistro du Vin might have to up its game a bit to appeal to the sort of diners who eat out regularly. And judging by our visit, it has. The new site is sufficiently big and well-appointed enough to give away the fact a chain is behind it.

The grocer’s scales and butcher’s blocks used as decoration are too perfectly placed to feel real – but there are enough individual touches to discount such rustic kitsch. What stands out most are the many waiters, waitresses, managers and sommeliers, all of whom had personality and were allowed to express them. If this was a product of corporate training, it didn’t show.

You’d expect the Soho menu to take a few more risks than its provincial counterparts, and also to be be more expensive. It’s not exactly adventurous, but the likes of sweetbreads with sauce charcutiere, calf’s liver persillade and roast bone marrow certainly contrast with the more standard moule frites and beefburger which are also on the menu – this is still a short stroll from Piccadilly Circus, after all.

The predominantly meaty mains – like our saucisson à la Lyonnaise with mustardy ratte potatoes, or sliced Herdwick lamb rump with lentils, were proficiently cooked, with good ingredients. (The reverse of the A3 menu is an exhaustive list of the producers supplying BdV, including Maldon Oysters, H Forman & Sons and Donald Russell butchers.)

Charcuterie and cheese feature strongly, and are showcased in a glass-walled fridge. A tenner gives you access to its chilly recesses with a ‘cheese aficionado’ – an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Spanish chap on our visit – who talks diners through the vast range of cheese, offering tastes and loading onto a board. It’s a fabulous bit of restaurant theatre.

Another reason we rate Bistro du Vin – and no, it’s not the Piers Morgan endorsement on their website – is the wine list. A By-the-Glass brand dispenser allows you to sample some very interesting wines (we tried a biting, minerally grüner veltliner and a complex Lustau East India sherry with the cheese). The list is arranged under egalitarian headings (‘aromatic and rich’, ‘robust and full’) and the sommelier is equally unpretentious.

Bistro du Vin might be a chain restaurant, but it’s the sort of chain we’re happy to see more of.



Address: 36 Dean Street
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Road tube
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