It was one of those balmy Friday evenings towards the end of term, when parents descend en masse to ‘treat’ their student offspring. There was an eclectic mix of clientele inside, from the aforementioned parent/student parties, to couples enjoying a romantic meal, and old friends partaking of a decent bottle of wine.
Pierre Victoire promises ‘simple rustic charm’, which can be surprisingly hard to achieve without falling into clichés of chequered tablecloths and Edith Piaf playing on a background loop. This, on the other hand, felt like sitting in a genuine bistro overlooking Montmarte in Paris – the wooden tables were cosy rather than cramped, the candlelight was atmospheric rather than gloomy, and the French welcome felt heartfelt rather than contrived.
Yes, this is definitely a French restaurant from tip to toe – from the French maitre d’ (Pascal from Brittany), to the French waiting staff, and down to the French head chef, with an impressive ‘cheese wall’ and atmospheric paintings to complete the overall effect.
As summer was upon us, we both agreed upon a glass of Côtes de Provence Rosé to start with whilst we surveyed the extensive menu, full of ‘signature’ French dishes such as Bouillabaisse, Duck confit, and Ile Flottante – basically, all the dishes which people love but tend to be too fiddly to prepare at home.
I opted for the Prix Fixe, great value at £23.50 for 3 courses (even better value at £11.90 during lunchtimes), whilst my partner (she of slightly more expensive tastes) went à la carte mainly because, as she put it, ‘The scallops were calling me’.
After my sublime Haddock Fumé starter, it was time for the pièce de la resistance - Moules Marinières, which duly arrived in a silver bucket accompanied by a generous bowl of ‘frites’. Upon seeing these, ‘she of the more expensive tastes’ broke off from her Confit de Canard to reach across and pinch a handful – what is it about chips that makes them so irresistible to the opposite sex?
We debated sharing the Moelleaux au Chocolat (for a second), but since all the desserts were homemade and looked irresistible, that would not have been a good idea. ‘Would you have given any of it up for me?’, I asked when the desserts arrived. ‘No’ came the brusque reply in between mouthfuls of chocolate, ‘it’s far too good to share’.
Which nicely sums up Pierre Victoire.
Monday - Saturday: 12.00-14.30 hrs,
Sunday: 12.00-16.30 hrs
Monday - Saturday: 18.00-23.00 hrs,
Sunday: 16.30-22.00 hrs
Open kitchen – see the chefs at work!
Locally sourced wherever possible
Desserts handmade in the kitchen
Buzzing yet casual atmosphere
Traditional French cuisine created by skilled chefs