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THE FRENCH HOUSE

BEST NEW BISTRO

UPSTAIRS AT THE FRENCH HOUSE



SHORTLISTED BY BISTRONAUT #12

WHO
The French House is legendary for two reasons: first, the ground floor bar is a Soho staple where everyone – poets and royals alike – rubbed shoulders. General de Gaulle’s "À tous les Français" speech is even said to have been written there! No pints, no TV and no music, that’s the way they roll. Second, the small restaurant room upstairs is where it all started for London food icons Fergus (St. John) and Margot Henderson (Rochelle Canteen) in 1992. Last autumn, chef Neil Borthwick (Merchants Tavern, Michel Bras...) took over the kitchen to serve a banging, no-frills, French-inspired menu for those in the know.

FOOD
The waitress was right, it’s a no-brainer, “listen to your stomach” kind of menu, gradually renewed over a two-week period:
A whole confit of new season garlic head dripping in olive oil goodness on a toast spread with goat’s curd, just heavenly – £7.50
The popular quail with hazelnut pesto and aioli – £12
The daily special, a smoky rumsteak with perfect skin-on fries – £17
A summery apricot and mint meringue mess with a good bite to it – £8
Delish madeleines baked to order – £3 for 4, £9 for a dozen

DRINKS
Keep it French!
A glass of Lillet blanc, that day’s tipple – £4.50
A crisp 2016 Chablis from Domaine Chatelain – £6
A good-value glass of the house Cotes du Ventoux red – £3.95
A bottle of 2014 Sancerre rosé from Michel Gérard et fils – £36

DECOR
Frozen in time. All the nooks and crannies are bathed in warm daylight, and years of Soho grandeur and eccentricity look down on you from the burgundy walls. Next to the framed black and white pictures, you’ll find soft globe wall lamps and a vintage Vedett sign among lots of other details. There’s a small bar at the back with a couple of seats, a sort of booth if you want some privacy and a handful of tables with white tablecloths.

NOISE
Quiet chatter, a cheerful reggae/soul playlist and a general good mood! Don’t be surprised if your neighbour asks what it is you’re having before ordering (yes, that’s garlic!). We Shazamed Talk about love by Pat Kelly and Fugitive from love by Linda Jones.

SEATING
Dark Bentwood chairs, old church benches and a few bar stools. Snap up one of the tables by the English-style windows and gaze at busy Dean Street through the giant old French flag.

VIBE
Time seems to have no importance here. That day, the room was filled with regulars, the owner and former cabaret artist Lesley Lewis bringing her friends up from the bar for a late lunch, and people lingering over this bright summer day with a bottle of fizz… Everyone is 60-something, and making the most of it. It’s a slice of that Soho you thought didn’t exist anymore.

RESTROOMS
White tiles, burgundy doors and antique mirrors… You can safely say it’s always been that way.

SERVICE
Nice and laid back, just as we like it. Service charge is not included for once, so don’t forget to add it. 15% felt like the right move.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes! For a long boozy lunch with your grandma or your parents when they’re in town to match the average age. It’s also a great option for a solo lunch with the daily newspaper and a glass of something.

WHO
The French House is legendary for two reasons: first, the ground floor bar is a Soho staple where everyone – poets and royals alike – rubbed shoulders. General de Gaulle’s "À tous les Français" speech is even said to have been written there! No pints, no TV and no music, that’s the way they roll. Second, the small restaurant room upstairs is where it all started for London food icons Fergus (St. John) and Margot Henderson (Rochelle Canteen) in 1992. Last autumn, chef Neil Borthwick (Merchants Tavern, Michel Bras...) took over the kitchen to serve a banging, no-frills, French-inspired menu for those in the know.

FOOD
The waitress was right, it’s a no-brainer, “listen to your stomach” kind of menu, gradually renewed over a two-week period:
A whole confit of new season garlic head dripping in olive oil goodness on a toast spread with goat’s curd, just heavenly – £7.50
The popular quail with hazelnut pesto and aioli – £12
The daily special, a smoky rumsteak with perfect skin-on fries – £17
A summery apricot and mint meringue mess with a good bite to it – £8
Delish madeleines baked to order – £3 for 4, £9 for a dozen

DRINKS
Keep it French!
A glass of Lillet blanc, that day’s tipple – £4.50
A crisp 2016 Chablis from Domaine Chatelain – £6
A good-value glass of the house Cotes du Ventoux red – £3.95
A bottle of 2014 Sancerre rosé from Michel Gérard et fils – £36

DECOR
Frozen in time. All the nooks and crannies are bathed in warm daylight, and years of Soho grandeur and eccentricity look down on you from the burgundy walls. Next to the framed black and white pictures, you’ll find soft globe wall lamps and a vintage Vedett sign among lots of other details. There’s a small bar at the back with a couple of seats, a sort of booth if you want some privacy and a handful of tables with white tablecloths.

NOISE
Quiet chatter, a cheerful reggae/soul playlist and a general good mood! Don’t be surprised if your neighbour asks what it is you’re having before ordering (yes, that’s garlic!). We Shazamed Talk about love by Pat Kelly and Fugitive from love by Linda Jones.

SEATING
Dark Bentwood chairs, old church benches and a few bar stools. Snap up one of the tables by the English-style windows and gaze at busy Dean Street through the giant old French flag.

VIBE
Time seems to have no importance here. That day, the room was filled with regulars, the owner and former cabaret artist Lesley Lewis bringing her friends up from the bar for a late lunch, and people lingering over this bright summer day with a bottle of fizz… Everyone is 60-something, and making the most of it. It’s a slice of that Soho you thought didn’t exist anymore.

RESTROOMS
White tiles, burgundy doors and antique mirrors… You can safely say it’s always been that way.

SERVICE
Nice and laid back, just as we like it. Service charge is not included for once, so don’t forget to add it. 15% felt like the right move.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes! For a long boozy lunch with your grandma or your parents when they’re in town to match the average age. It’s also a great option for a solo lunch with the daily newspaper and a glass of something.

CHEF

Neil Borthwick 

OPENING HOURS

Lunch served Monday to Friday. Dinner served Tuesday to Thursday.

RESERVATION

The restaurant accepts bookings via email (frenchhousereservations@gmail.com) or phone.

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