Dining in London: Pied-à-Terre

by artfuldiner on October 22, 2010

in Culinary Criticism, London, Opinion, Review, Wining and Dining

pied-a-terre-amusePied-à-Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2NH, www.pied-a-terre.co.uk


Pied-à-Terre, a stylish and intimate VERY French restaurant, is the recipient of two Michelin stars, which is pretty high up there on the gastronomic Richter scale (three stars being the supposed pinnacle of perfection). But one of the things I’ve learned as a professional “hired belly” is that looks – and Michelin stars – can often be deceiving. In other words, I’ve been disappointed enough times to be as circumspect as a minnow in a shark tank with regard to my choice of temples of haute cuisine.


But even after all this noble sounding rhetoric, there were several reasons why we chose to dine at Pied-à-Terre: First of all, the restaurant had been highly recommended by several independent sources (including the concierge at our hotel, who was, thus far, batting a thousand in that department); secondly, the convenience factor definitely entered into the equation, as the restaurant was only a few steps away from our hotel; and, finally, it was our last night in London, and we wanted (and hoped for) something special to end our sojourn.


pied-a-terre-venisonWere we disappointed…? Certainly not with the food. As advertised, it was nothing short of sublime (and exceedingly rich). Having rather diminutive appetites, we passed on the 10-course tasting menu with accompanying wines and opted to order à la carte. My wife began with scallops and settled on venison for her main course. I started with breast of quail and ended with grouse. Superb across the board… as was the exceptional cheese course and a positively decadent chocolate tart for dessert. And, although prices are steep, there are all manner of little extras: a variety of amuse bouche, for example, and towering tiers of petits fours.


On the other hand, I think we were disappointed in the pretentiousness of it all… the celebrated appearance of each course… the careful explanation of every ingredient… the silly game of “Guess that Wine” played by the staff on guests who choose the tasting menu. I also wasn’t terribly impressed by the hairy eyeball the sommelier threw my way when I sent back a half bottle of Alsatian Riesling that was obviously over the hill (although he loosened up a bit when we subsequently struck up a spirited conversation).


pied-a-terre-chocolate-tartThere is no question that Pied-à-Terre is a wonderful restaurant for that special occasion. However, during our London sojourn, we enjoyed infinitely more satisfying dining experiences for infinitely less money. And I am more and more of the opinion that two- and three-starred Michelin eateries are fast becoming the dinosaurs of the food chain; they represent a style of dining whose time has come… and gone.


Bon Appétit!



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