As a complete and hopeless Francophile Pied à Terre had been on my wish list of restaurants for a while. I was delighted to find it was the chosen venue for a dinner with MTV boyfriend’s work colleagues and their partners. The two Michelin star restaurant is oh-so-French from its name to its foie gras fetish but the chef behind it is actually an Australian, Shane Osborn, just another reason to love the place.
Osborn is known for being consistently behind the stoves at Pied à Terre rather than frittering away time on TV shows and cook books. However the hard yards he has put in have lead him to develop allergies to many of the foods he cooks including fish, red wine and aubergine. These allergies are so severe that a adrenaline needle is kept on hand in the kitchen and Osborne’s sous chef has to taste all the food in place of the man himself. Immediately it is clear that this is one chef truly committed to his craft.
The private dining room
The first thing you notice about Osborn’s menu is that from top to bottom it is very appetising. However, as we were a large group we ate in the private upstairs room (which comfortably fits 12) and from a more limited menu of a choice of three starters, mains and desserts. As a Michelin star standard meal there were lots of freebies besides the standard three courses from the decadent amusé bouche of discs of foie gras teamed with tiny puffs of pastry topped with slices of truffle to the pre dessert of a creamy apple concoction served in tiny beakers.
Osborn’s plates were so pretty that you wanted to take photographs of them and prop them next to your bedside table. My starter of salt brined scallops was dressed with delicate strands of celeraic and the crunch of almonds. The scallops were faultless in their tender state but a better choice was the roasted quail breast which was even prettier and was a bit more gutsy in its flavours.
Salt brined scallops
However at times the idea outshone the execution. My main course of turbot was pan-fried and served with some wilted bok choi and a creamy purée of Savoy cabbage. However the fish was over seasoned so the result was disonnance rather than harmony.
I was also a little disappointed in the cheese plate which was simply a selection of three (admittedly excellent cheeses) rather than the whole cheese trolley I had been expecting to choose from. I am not sure whether I just missed out on the cheese trolley because we were eating in the private room or whether it does not exist.
The wine list is extensive and we drank a fresh and crisp 2009 Reuilly les Sables from Domaine Cordaillat in the Loire Valley which was delicious. Pied à Terre also has to be commended for offering a bring your own wine option with a corkage fee of £25 a bottle.
Service was seamless and unobtrusive and the setting of the restaurant was undeniably glamorous with shiny black surfaces and low slung chandeliers. While the food was exquisite, I felt Pied à Terre lacked some of the wow factor of other two Michelin star restaurants such as The Ledbury and The Square.
Details: Pied à Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, Soho W1T 2NH (Ph 020 7636 1178)
Damage: Budget breaking. The private dining menu is £80 per person. Thanks to MTV boyfriend’s work colleague who picked up what I am sure was a hefty tab.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in another options for Francophiles in London, Gauthier or in Paris try La Fontaine de Mars near the Eiffel Tower.