Monday, 5 September 2011

Bistro du Vin comes to the West End

Is there anything in life better than a well-cooked steak? For me it is the pinnacle of foodie achievement and I make it my business to check out the choice cuts on each and every menu I find myself in possession of.

Which brings me to Bistro du Vin, Soho. The latest outpost from the popular Hotel du Vin group is only the second to open in London (the first was in Clerkenwell) and is a welcome addition to the West End’s food scene for anyone who enjoys fine but unfussy food washed down with something grape.

The atmosphere here is buzzy and unpretentious with the sort of décor I like to think of as stylish-rustic: plenty of wood paneling, neutral coffee-palette tones and simple modern lighting. Service is informal; you won’t find hushed tones and nose-in-the-air waiters here, instead you’ll get attentive, friendly staff and help with the book-length wine list.

Having visited the du Vins numerous times I knew I wanted steak and built my dinner around this, asking sommelier Romain for something to match the fillet. He suggested the Domaine de Fondrèche Fayard 2009, a meaty blend of Grenache, syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan, which went tooth-smackingly well with the beef and is something I would almost certainly not have chosen myself (I’m a new world aficionado, it has to be said).

I started with the artisan cheese and charcuterie plate which was almost impossible to resist after a quick nose around the Cave au Fromage: a climate-controlled cheese room stacked with more varieties of artisan cheese than your average delicatessen. Served on a wooden board this was the perfect, light choice for pre-steak sustenance, leaving me ready for the hunk of beef to follow.

As ever, the steak was cooked to perfection and as juicy and melt-in-the-mouth as rare fillet should be. The chips were just the right side of salty and the sides I ordered rendered unnecessary by the sheer size of the portions.

I had just enough room to finish with more cheese, allowing me the chance to try even more varieties from the fabulous cave.

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