An introduction to Pied a Terre

Pied A Terre, Fitzrovia

Tracy Ramsden
Pied a Terre dish 2 Pied a Terre dish 2

Acting Features Director Tracy Ramsden samples fine-dining, old school-style

If it’s post-work on a Friday night, and you’re looking for somewhere lively, buzzing, one of those anything-goes places where you have no idea where the night might take you or who you may meet, you probably shouldn’t head to Charlotte Street’s Pied a Terre (you’d be better off down the road in Soho). You see, in a neon sea of chain Italians, pop-up pulled pork bars and small dish gastro cafes, there’s one constant that has out-lasted all the new foodie fads on the block. Quietly reassuring, on the ground floor of a polished but unassuming London townhouse, Pied a Terre is quietly doing what it does best – Michelin-starred fine dining, French cuisine, exceptional wine. It’s special, but it doesn’t shout about it.

Nestled in the heart of Fitzrovia it has that old-school formality one might normally associate with Mayfair. Restaurateur David Moore opened Pied a Terre in 1991 and, on-site most evenings to greet both regulars and newcomers alike, this is very much his baby – the first in his portfolio that now also includes L’Autre Pied and pop-up Pieds Nus. He earned his stripes working alongside chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, and via a stint at Le Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo’s Hotel de Paris. But it’s here in London, specifically at Pied a Terre, that his heart lies. So much so that when most of the building was destroyed by fire in 2004, it was Moore who had it up and running again within a year. Today, alongside head chef Marcus Eaves, he boasts a Michelin star and a reputation in excellence. But how does it stand-up in today’s fast-paced, ever more gimmicky foodie world?

We headed to central London’s foodie Mecca, Fitzrovia, on a blustery, non-eventful Wednesday night. Charlotte Street has always been something of a hub for new eaterie offerings and drinking haunts. It might have been easy to miss the pared-back but subtly lit frontage of Pied a Terre and, once inside, the greeting is relaxed but occasion-appropriate and prompt (i.e. They politely take your coat and pull out your chair, but they don’t make a song, a dance and a napkin swan out of it) For somebody who usually finds the pomp and ceremony of fine dining awkward, dated and unnecessary, it was refreshing to be greeted with a relatively informal warmth. This wasn’t sceney or stuffy in the way some fine dining experiences can be, it doesn’t cater to egos, it just gets down to business: the business of good food.

Now here’s my problem with fine dining: whilst I can’t bear the in-out rush of restaurants that squeeze in as many covers as possible by giving you a two hour-window before you have to move on, I also don’t like… well, making a meal of having a meal. Five hours at the same table? It smacks of over-indulgence and isn’t my idea of a brilliant night out (I’m from the School of The Easily Bored). I also had a dining partner – my boyfriend – who, though appreciates good food, would much rather that bellyful feeling of three large courses than 10-12 small plates that amount to little more than a spoonful. Unrefined, perhaps, but a challenge nonetheless.

We went for the nine course Pied a Terre tasting menu (£105) with sommelier suggested wine for every course. Pleasant surprise number one: speed, but not haste. There was never longer than five minutes between courses – which quite possibly would have dragged me over my boredom threshold, and my ever-hungry companion to the nearest Nandos to fill his boots.

We started with mushroom and truffle soup with creamed orzo pasta. A unique twist on a classic that was easy on richness and big on flavour. And at risk of reaching the punchline too soon, by the end of the menu, having forgotten a number of other dishes, this one stayed with me. Really tasty.


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Date: 06.12.2018, 14:29 / Views: 35152