Bistro du Vin, 36 Dean Street, London W1D 4PS
We are huge fans of Pub du Vin and Hotel du Vin in Brighton, so we were expecting the same level of enjoyment from Bistro du Vin. We visited the restaurant on Dean Street, right in the middle of Soho and its vast array of amazing eateries. When we first walked in the decor and atmosphere seemed welcoming, a long stretch of bar and cosy booth seating that gave a relaxed, homely feel. The many accessories included old scales, butchers blocks, deli bits ‘n bobs and old food signs. Then we noticed that the maître d was wearing one of those Bluetooth earpiece things. It’s only a little observation but we felt it cheapened the place, it gave it a bit of an All Bar One type feel. Saying that we loved the rainbow-coloured books that were tightly stacked at an area right at the back of the restaurant, kind of like a psychedelic library…
Anyway, we were led to our table right at the back of the restaurant, thankfully not too close to the cheese room (for those who aren’t regular readers, I cannot stand cheese). Ade however was looking at it longingly – more on that later.
The menu failed to excite us, it was made up of typical French bistro options, I went for Crispy cod cheeks with tomato fondue £6.50 to start, these were my favourite part of the meal, Ade described it as ‘grown-up scampi’. Soft cod in a great crunchy shell, the fondue a chunky tomato sauce was light, fresh and tangy. Ade opted for the Cheese and Charcuterie plate £8, £16 or £32. All the usual suspects were there, spicy chorizo, thinly shaved salami, a blue cheese, a soft skinned cheese… You get the idea. One cheese, the Win Green, was amazing though. It had a hard, almost crispy, skin yet inside it was creamy and luxuriously soft (the texture of a very, very thick double cream). It would have been nice to maybe had a sliver of the Iberico bellota ham on the plate, if only to temp you into buying the full portion (£10.50).
Our waitress annoyingly took away Ade’s half full glass of champagne before main course was served… Don’t you just hate it when that happens? My main was Cumbrian rare breed rib eye steak £27 cooked on a Josper grill. Good quality well cooked beef, but a tad on the chewy side with, what seemed to me, too much fat. Disappointing for the price compared to, let’s say, the Hawsmoor. I had this with smooth, well seasoned Mashed potatoes £3.50 and sweet and crunchy Glazed carrots £3.50. We wanted to try a couple of the steak sauces and opted for the classic Peppercorn and Cafe de Paris (a butter-based sauce), both served in cute little copper saucepans.
Ade’s Breast of Gressingham duck with duck hash, parsnip puree £17.95 served on a bed of spinach gave me food envy, (as did a nearby diner’s huge pie), again the meat was tender and nice and pink in the middle, just as Ade likes it. The accompanying duck hash reminded us of the Chinese shredded variety mixed in with a potato cake. This was a great combo with the parsnip puree, although there could have been a bit more of it. The gravy is also worth a mention, thick and rich and just the right amount (it really annoys Ade when a restaurant dribbles a teaspoon of gravy over a dish just for effect…)
We decided to have a bottle of wine with our meal rather than our usual cocktails, well it is called Bistro du Vin, not Bistro du Cocktail! The sommelier came to our table and he asked whether we had any questions about the wine list. And the list was extensive, two sides of A3 to be precise. Prices ranged from £18.50 for a bottle of Hotel du Vin Merlot, Sieur d’Arques, Limoux. Up to a whopping £495 for Château Margaux, Premier Cru Classé. We told him that we loved the light Primitivo wines of Puglia (we drank gallons of the stuff at our wedding at Trullo Fico where it came in huge plastic bottles containing 5 litres for about £5!). He looked down his nose a bit at this request and quickly commented that he stocked no such thing, but suggested the Quinta da Lagoalva from Portugal £22.
Now for desserts… I adored the Creme Brûlée from our visit to Pub du Vin in Brighton, thought about it for days after, and hoped that this would be the same. The Bistro’s version £5.50 was nearly as good, the sugared crust wasn’t quite as thick but the actual ‘creme’ was just as delicious! Ade went for the Butterscotch Banana Pudding, caramelized banana, dulce de leche ice-cream and caramel sauce £5.50. Ade was worried that there would be too much going on, but he was wrong! The flavours all worked brilliantly, his only slight criticism was that the caramel sauce had a tiny burnt and bitter-tasting twinge to it.
Now Ade wished that he had been told about the ‘Cheese Room’. He loves the stuff and was very excited about the Fromage & Charcuterie corner where his starter was prepared. He just assumed that this cheesy haven was a fancy store cupboard… But no! Bistro du Vin offers unlimited cheese, selected by La Cave a Fromage, for just £12.50. We couldn’t see this option on the menu and none of the waiting staff mentioned it. The cheese room is a real USP for Bistro du Vin, Ade was gutted that he missed it.
The next day we woke up forgetting we’d been for a meal the previous night, which is not a good sign. It was quite a safe meal which probably suits a lot of people down to the ground. Perhaps if it had been in a small town outside of London it would’ve stood out more, but in Soho there is so much competition and much tastier food to be found.
Bistro du Vin,
36 Dean Street,
London W1D 4PS
Telephone 0207 432 4800
Lunch: Monday – Friday: 12.00 to 14.30
Dinner: Monday – Saturday: 17.00 to 22.30
Closed on Sundays.