A Marylebone offshoot of Pied Ã Terre, offering high-quality Gallic dishes and friendly service in a stripped-down contemporary bistro setting.
A glass half full, or a glass half empty? That’s the critical dilemma in trying to assess the new Marylebone offshoot of the celebrated Pied A Terre.
Take the staff issue. We know that it must be difficult to be the proprietor of any restaurant when the critics come in, but such queries as ‘so what name have you booked under today?’ – the standard reception, it seems, for any recognised reviewer – could perhaps be dressed up with a bit more bonhomie than they were for us. And even the mid-time ‘is everything all right?’ query seemed a bit perfunctory. The rest of the staff, however, were charm itself.
There are some nice value-touches too. Isn’t it great – and eco-friendly – that you’re offered free filtered Thames tap as you sit down? And the wine list offers a good range of sensible choices at notably sensible prices. Our bottle of Faugères 2005, for example, at under £20, was no more than three times retail (which is as good as you’re going to get, realistically speaking). In the early days, they spoilt it all by charging by bread and olives, but these imposts have now – wisely – been dropped.
On the appearance front, the rather bare decor and absence of tablecloths rather conjure up images of Arbutus – the Soho bistro that’s fast becoming arguably the defining restaurant of the second half of the current decade. That’s another way, perhaps, of saying that the slight gloominess of these premises’ former incarnation (Blandford Street) has not entirely been swept away.
And the food? Fortunately, it turns out to be of consistently good quality. Highlights of our lunch including a mosaic of beetroot whose elegant presentation lived up to the name (althouth the set-lunch pumpkin soup was of rather less interest). Main courses of partridge (deconstucted, and served in broth) and a blade of beef were also very satisfactory, and a desert of poached apple was clean on the palate.
Portions, however, are undoubtedly on the small side. Perhaps that’s what 21st-century diners want – and, certainly, it’s what’s good for ’em – but the dainty portions seem somewhat at odds with the earthiness of much of the cuisine. Some diners may therefore feel that their glass – or at least their plate – is half empty. We suspect, however, that it is the more optimistic analysis which will prevail.