French Restaurants in Soho
1. Gauthier Soho French restaurant in Soho 21 Romilly St - W1
“Why he has not regained his Michelin star is quite beyond me”, say fans of Alexis Gauthier’s immensely popular and accomplished venture, which lost its gong in 2012, and which the Tyre Man has pointedly (pointlessly?) ignored ever since. “You have to ring the doorbell to gain entrance” to this quirky old Georgian townhouse in Soho, whose “charming, old-world” dining rooms are on different floors separated by a somewhat “rickety staircase”. But whereas its culinary style could once be easily pigeon-holed as “classic” Gallic gluttony – with “exquisite, inventive dishes, beautifully presented” – the main man’s banishment of foie gras in 2015, his ongoing conversion to veganism, and his well-known ‘Les Plantes’ vegan tasting menu (a feature since 2016) is taking the place further and further out of the mainstream. On most accounts results remain utterly “outstanding” whether or not you are a meat eater, but ratings dipped a tad this year on the back of some regulars noting a slight “slip in standards”. Sometimes the concern is general (“needs a bit of a revamp”). More often, though, it’s linked to the shift away from meat (“getting tired of the vegan ‘foie gras’ canapés and yearning for the old-style ones”). But, quibbles aside, his achievement in maintaining high standards during such a big shift is impressive, and it will be more so if he fulfills his promise next year and goes entirely vegan. Hats off to AG for “embracing the concept and importance of a plant-based diet and doing wonderful things to vegetables!”
2. L’Escargot French restaurant in Soho 48 Greek Street - W1
“Beautiful, old-fashioned surroundings” imbue this “classy” Gallic favourite (est 1927) with a “lovely old-school atmosphere”, and – if you’re looking for a “classic” French meal (Chateaubriand, coq au vin, tournedos Rossini, boeuf bourguignon, profiteroles) in the heart of Soho, it has few rivals nowadays. Its rating slipped a fraction this year, though, on the back of a couple of less wholehearted endorsements: “mainly good, but not as exceptional as your last review implied”.
3. Blanchette French restaurant in Soho 9 D’Arblay St - W1
“Just fab!”, say fans of this pair of “rather crammed” French bistros in Soho and Brick Lane offering “delightful and different dishes in a good atmosphere”. Served as small or sharing plates, the food is generally “interesting and imaginative”, and the “service friendly, if a tiny bit flaky at times”.
4. Prix Fixe French restaurant in Soho 39 Dean St - W1
“Unostentatious and slightly lacking in character”, this “basic, cheap ’n’ cheerful French-style bistro” (sibling to Pierre Victoire) offers “good, honest cooking and excellent value” in the heart of the West End – “more enjoyable, with better food, than many a swankier venue”.
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