Living your Best French Life
Since I was a kid I always romanced the idyllic French dream. I chose to study French in school, I obsessed about French cooking and longed for a baguette and brie life one day.
Makes me sad to say that every time I’ve visited France it’s never lived up to the dream the dream. Nowhere near the levels of the Paris syndrome that people suffer. Despite 10 or so visits I never really ache to go back. When I do get the hankering for escargot and steak tartare, as you do, it never results in a Eurostar booking.
Sauntering down Old Compton street the other day I got one of those Franco-hankerings. Not sure if the sight of Café Boheme triggered it or it was cosmic. Either way, I plopped my derriere on one of the bentwood bistro chairs with a zinc top table by the window and started to live my best French fantasy life.
Café Boheme has been serving up the French bistro vibes for the better part of 25 years. It underwent a revamp last year under the watchful eye of the Soho House Group. It’s kept its
Belle Époque vibe with open windows on Old Compton Street, beautiful tiled floors, racing green leather, brass bar top and more wall décor that the national gallery.
The menu has all the French bistro staples…Croque Monsieur, Oeuf mayonnaise, Moules mariniere, Steak Tartar and Confit duck. I went #BasicAmericanAbroad and ordered the Escargot to start and the Bavette, frites dijonnaise, with apple tarte tatin to finish. Being n French mode had to have a glass of red to go with my steak.
As excepted with all things Soho House, everything was cooked to perfection, escargot was plump, swimming in parsley garlic butter (most of which was dribbling down my chin) with huge lardons of smoked bacon. The bavette was perfectly rare, nice touch of maturity and perfect with the dijonnaise. The tarte tatin had a beautiful caramel and was so generous in size.
Apple Tarte Tatin
Bavette, Frites, Dijonnaise
What I loved the most was the value. If you were to order those items separately it would have been £37 before service. I would have happily paid that…. But if you dine between noon and 6:30 pm they have a Fixed Price menu. Basically, everything that I order (a starter, main, dessert and wine) for £17. Throw in a perfectly poured flat white and my bill including service nearly touched £23.
Now my French fantasy could be an everyday reality. Seriously loved everything about Café Boheme, décor, food and service. They have live jazz daily from 3 pm making it the perfect late afternoon spot in Soho to people watch, sip wine, listen to jazz and live your best Franco-self.
Address: 13 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 5JQ
Hours: Open 9am ⋅ Closes 3AM
Phone: 020 7734 0623