Review: Bistro du Vin Soho, hearty food in the heart of London’s theatre district

Posted on 20 January 2012
By Angela Johnson
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A frosty Saturday afternoon spent negotiating bargain-hungry January shoppers in Covent Garden led my friend and I to Soho’s trendy Dean Street. Aware Hotel du Vin had recently launched its second stand-alone restaurant ‘Bistro du Vin’, having previously only operated hotel venues outside the Capital, I was curious to see how the brand would pitch itself in the Soho theatre scene.

In keeping with du Vin’s modern bistro theme, dark oak tables and warm brown leather-lined chairs are offset by light cream walls while dozens of empty wine bottles form a barrier atop the central benches in the dining area. Orbed oil-lamp candles are dotted on each table with minimal electric lighting, covered by cream linen shades, creating a dimly lit romantic atmosphere. The huge pewter bar, and sheer size of the space, including an interesting addition in the colourful ‘library’ along the far back wall, immediately draws the eye. As does the cocktail list, proffered by an extremely accommodating bartender. Declining temptation, we remained true to our resolution for a healthy, alcohol-free January. Admittedly, perhaps a restaurant known for its extensive wine selection was the last place to which we should have ventured! But who says you need alcohol to have a good time? Instead, we tested non-alcoholic cocktails and were bowled over by the zesty ‘Applenut’ containing almond syrup, ginger ale, fresh lime and apple juice. Next, our kind mixologist presented an as yet unnamed ‘latest creation’ of Cranberry, Camomile tea and Coconut water served over ice – Berry nice!

An exceedingly welcoming maître d’ showed us to our table before we were visited by the resident ‘cheese aficionado’ to offer a fine selection from La Cave à Fromage – a real treat for lovers of all things dairy – a glassed-off refridgerated cheese room set to the far left of the restaurant. Wide eyed with curiosity, we hastily ordered the Cheese and charcuterie plate (£8/£16) and a bowl of juicy marinated gordal and kalamata olives to start our evening’s feast. Puligny Saint Pierre (creamy goats cheese), Saint Maure de Tourrainet (soft and nutty), Barkham Blue (strong, rich and melt-in-the-mouth) and a delicate, crumbly and heavenly buttery Lancashire Bombe were guzzled alongside salty italian salami. So much for January’s diet! There’s even an invite to explore the cave yourself with an unlimited offer at £12.50 for those dining in the restaurant.

The menu is comprehensive, offering authentic bistro fayre with a few extra-special treats thrown in for foodies in the shape of Cornish Rock Oysters (£3.50), Foie Gras & Chicken Liver Parfait (£7.95) and Steak Tartare (£7.50/£15.95). With images of the classic Mr Bean restaurant farce flashing through my mind, I opted for Moules marinieres (£7.95) – generous, succulent mussels drenched in a thick, creamy garlic soup that left me regretting not choosing them for main course. My friend went for the Gratinated Cornish crab (£9.50) which held huge, tasty flakes of crab meat but was left a little disappointed by the overall lack of moisture and begged a few spoonfuls of my cream sauce to douse over the dish to make it a bit more palatable. But this was the only grumble we could find throughout the entire evening. A large team are on hand to ensure your needs are met throughout, with no less than five waiting staff visiting our table to enquire as to how enjoyable our meal was, or whether we could be fed or watered futher. Attentive without becoming overbearing, the staff give off a genuine air of satisfaction brought by providing good service. Well-trained and well-mannered waiters made a bustling Saturday evening as relaxed an enjoyable an experience as possible for all du Vin patrons.

Our mains arrived in good time, allowing us to enjoy uninterrupted conversation without our stomachs beginning to rumble. Far from it, after the mouth-watering two-course cheese and fish starter, we were happy to wait a while. Choosing a healthy-sized Spatchcock poussin, Roasted lemon & thyme (£14.50) and two generous helpings of Seabass fillet, celeriac parmentiere, garlic & rosemary (£14.95), we ordered three sides (£3.50 each) of Buttered spinach, Pomme frites and Glazed carrot to accompany a meal that was hearty, delicious, satisfying and, considering the quality of ingredients and location in the heart of theatre-land, very good value-for-money.

Throwing the diet out the window, we greedily read the Dessert selection with eyes far bigger than our bellies. The Warm Chocolate Brownie, raspberry ripple ice cream and melted chocolate sauce was large enough for two to share – a generous rectangular portion neatly placed aside a huge dollop of ice cream and a mini gravy boat containing a devillishly tasty liquid chocolate sauce. Intrigue led me to order what I thought might be a lighter option in the Banana Caramel Bavarois, how wrong I was. An interesting twist on panna cotta, presented in a martini glass the rich, creamy mousse-like texture of the banana-toffee mix was heavenly. Somehow, we found room for the lot!

Businessmen, foodies, couples, theatre bods and tourists alike will find something to ‘Wow’ about at Bistro du Vin!


36 DEAN STREET LONDON W1D 4PS to book a table or for more information call 020 7432 4800 or visit and all throughout January receive 25% off your bill before 7pm.