Ah Pierre Victoire. Like most Edinburghers, I have very fond memories of this place. Pierre Levicky opened his first restaurant in Edinburgh in 1988, and expanded quickly. Soon there were two on Victoria Street, specialising in good French food on a budget. It was very popular. I went there at 15 to eat moules marinieres, and had my first (and last) waitressing experience there at 18 – I wasn’t asked back after the chef passed me a boiling hot plate without warning me first and I managed to drop it in a customer’s lap, and the head waitress was infuriated at my lack of knowledge of wine (I was 18 – my experience of fine wine was Maddog 20/20 and whatever my mother served).
Pierre’s rapid expansion backfired and the chain folded in the late nineties. So, I was surprised to find Pierre Victoire safe and well on Dean Street. Turns out this was a franchise bought by Batuhan Isiksalan in 1998, which survived the bankrupcy of the chain, and kept Pierre’s name and traditions going strong.
As part of The Happiness Project London rules, I have to try new places every time I eat out, so having researched restos in Soho (and unable to get through to Andrew Edmunds which I also want to try) I went along last night with my good friend Jo, and was very impressed with what I saw. The relaxed, homely French restaurant I knew was still evident, with rustic wooden tables and chairs, candles in wine bottles, and a pianist in the corner. Coupled with the hearty, tasty food and modern French menu, it reminded me of one of the better restaurants which fill the streets of Paris or Brussels.
The atmosphere is warm, relaxed and cosy – Jo and I were seated in a table in the corner and were able to happily natter all evening. The wine list was great and we got a nice Chilean cab sauv for around £15. Before 7pm, they offer a 2 course set menu for £9.90 which has to be the best value in Soho, but even without the offer it was pretty reasonable.
As a nod to the past, I had moules marinieres to start and Jo ordered scallops (around £5 each) and we had honey roast duck with gratin dauphinois and pak choi, and ribeye with mash, blue cheese and peppercorn sauce, as a main. It was all good French cooking – simple, tasty, flavoursome, although in Paris or Brussels I’m sure the meat would be a little pinker. Service was good and friendly but we were also left alone to chat. The total cost was £35 each which is really good for London dining.
It felt like a relaxed local resto, with a nice friendly atmosphere, and filled with a low-key crowd, not the usual Soho trendies – the kind of place we used to eat in every weekend in Brussels. I’ll definitely be going back, and this time I’ll order my steak rare.