Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pierre Victoire has Aged

This use to be the French bistro in my student days; the classic Steak & Frites, melting candle wax on wine bottles and live music by the pianist in the evening… Then I got distracted by the constant stream of restaurants popping up in the neighbourhood, Mister and I hadn’t been back for a good while. On a chilly Monday afternoon, we revisited as a group of five.

Little has changed since, still the cosy little spot with worn down wooden tables, unassuming wall lamps and paintings up for sale. The menu, however, is now printed to replace the artistic, yet illegible squiggle.

Traditional Escargot style grilled Mussels in garlic, parsley and pernod butter with bread crumbs
Not as good as real escargot obviously, but not too far off the mark either. Unlike the chewy textures and earthen flavours of snails, these mussels were soft and squidgy with a faint hint of ocean sweetness. Couldn’t go wrong with the generous dosage of garlic and herb. Quite a clever little starter.

Smoke Salmon and Prawn Timbale with fresh horseradish crème fraiche, mizuna salad, sundried tomato coulis
Crazy amount of springy little prawns wrapped in mildly smoky salmon. A very familiar combination well made.

Classic Beef Bourguignon with creamy potato mash and shallots confit
Brother went for this traditional stew. I tend to avoid these dishes when eating out, because I don’t think an astoundingly fabulous stew exists, though they rarely go disastrously wrong. Perhaps the most outstanding one has been the Venison Stew in the tasting menu at Cambio de Tercio; the two spoonfuls actually left me wanting for more.

Roast Honey Duck with dauphinoise potatoes, steamed ginger bak choi and creamy green peppercorn jus
The two slabs of duck breast were cooked to a perfect pink, topped with honey glazed skin where the layer of fat had melted away. The dauphinoise potatoes were beautifully done with paper-thin layers and modest splashes of cream to rein in its weightiness; it almost resembled a slice of light puff pastry. Ginger and peppercorn fragrant were both gentle to blend with the honey, adding more dimensions to the flavours. My personal favourite of the lot.

Steak & Frites Chargrilled Entrecote with frites, herb and garlic butter & petit salad
The old good steak and fries we once loved. The key was the herb and garlic butter; together with the steak just off the scorching grill, it gave off the richest, bovine aroma. The steak used to be better, though, probably too thin at the edge. I asked for medium-rare, ended up with a done edge, a medium inner rim and a crimson centre. It was too heavily entangled with gristly tendons I gave up in the end. Had it always been like this?

Twice Roasted crispy Belly of Pork with mustard mash, kabanos sausages, sauerkraut and apple gravy
Do excuse the presentation; it does look a little like it’s been regurgitated. The meaty pork melted in mouth and exploded with piggy goodness, gently lifted by the sweetness in the gravy. The skin was super crunchy at first, but got more leathery as the dish cooled. It could do with slightly leaner pork belly or a bit of trimming, however, one of the strips was 70% lard, 20% meat and 10% skin. For the sake of Dad’s arteries, we urged him to stop after the second slice.

Chargrilled Homemade Beef Burger with relish, salad leaves, red onion & mustard mayo and hand cut chips
I asked for medium, it arrived done. A fist-size patty cooked to death is difficult to stomach, so Mum left most of it untouched. We didn’t send it back because she was 90% full after the starter anyway.

Pierre Victoire used to tick all the boxes a few years ago, today it ticked about half. Has it always been like this? Even the famous steak and frites has slipped its standards… Regardless, PV was once a special spot during our greener days, I’d come back, though perhaps not too frequently, just to check it’s doing okay.

5 Dean Street
Tel: 0207 287 4582

Pierre Victoire on Urbanspoon

You may also like: Spuntino, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Koya

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