DINING OWL AWARDS: 1st – for casual occasions; 1st – for repeat visits
When I visited: Various times from 2012-2016
Location: London, near Bank (there is also one near Canary Wharf, one near Marylebone and one in Soho)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not rated
What to wear: Anything – casual, workwear, smart/casual would all be fine
Ambience: Very typically French: small tables close together, brusque waiting staff, paper tablecloths
Course of the meal: Set menu (no choice!) – Vacherin for dessert
If I could change one thing: Smaller dessert options
This restaurant has more than one USP. Not only is the layout the same in all of its locations (New York, Paris, several in London and more) but there is no menu. You pay a certain amount (around £25) and you get a walnut and mustard salad to start, followed by a double portion of steak frites with the special Relais de Venise sauce. I always keep it simple and have the house red wine, which goes perfectly with the whole meal. The desserts are also well worth indulging in but you may want to share them unless you are particularly hungry … double steak frites plus the massive Vacherin (meringue tower) could be too much. I love the way that this restaurant subtly underlines some of its desserts in red or blue (the Vacherin, the creme brulee and the profiteroles always seem to be underlined and are all worth trying).
I love the way that, as a professional RdV-goer, I only have to say about 22 words in the whole meal, as follows:
Waitress (they’re always women for some reason): Have you been here before?
Me: Yes (Word 1)
Waitress: How would you like your steak cooked?
Me: Medium, please (Words 2-3)
Waitress: What would you like to drink?
Me: A bottle of the house red and some tap water, please (Words 4-14)
Waitress: Any desserts for you?
Me: Profiteroles, please (Words 15-16)
Me: Could I have the bill, please? (Words 17-22)
Basically, if you go you won’t regret it, and if you’re like me it probably won’t be your last visit. The Bank branch is particularly good for after-work fun.