Sunday, 27 April 2014

Restaurant Review - Pierre Victoire

Location: 9 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HP, UK

With a young family at home, it's a rare treat when MrF and I get to go out for a date night. So when we do finally get the chance for a few hours to ourselves, the last thing we want to do is risk it on a restaurant that could be hit or miss. We have a few favourite 'date venues' - either they hold some kind of romantic significance, or they're simply delightful places to spend time together away from the chaos that is parenthood. But what do we look for when we want to dine out for those few precious hours on our own?

Well, let's see, we need a restaurant that's romantic, local, reasonably priced (aren't we all on a tight budget these days?!), and that serves really good food... Easy answer, Pierre Victoire.

Having been before, and loved it, we hadn't revisited since I started the blog. Not because we didn't want to, simply because we like going to a variety of places, and rarely revisit the same place repeatedly. A year or so later though, we were really excited to return. So table booked, babysitters arranged and expectations high, the big question was - could they meet those expectations? Oh yes, yes they did!

After pre dinner drinks at The Duke of Cambridge, my first step through the door at Pierre Victoire was a reminder of how 'bijou' the restaurant feels. With lots of 2-4 seater tables dotted at varying angles around a small ground floor dining area, couples and families as far as the eye could see, the restaurant feels intimate without being crowded. We were led up to an even smaller first floor dining area, near some stairs, which I assume (based on customers passing through) led to a further dining space.

With table water, menus and fresh crusty baguette with butter provided promptly, first impressions were excellent. Second impressions, from browsing the menu (not that I hadn't looked before), were better still, with a 3 course pix fixe option available for an astonishing £22 (excludes Filet de Bœuf and Rib Eye Steak Frites). Talk about a no-brainer!

MrF decided on the Chicken Liver Parfait (£6 with caramelised red onion marmalade and garlic toast), while I decided on a lighter starter of Mille Feuille de la Mer (£6.50 crab, avocado and prawn with a grapefruit vinaigrette). Both were equally tasty, beautifully presented and perfectly proportioned. The salad light and delicate, with the freshness of the shellfish brought to life by the zestiness of the vinaigrette. Both myself and MrF being big fans of chicken liver parfait, often choosing it to start a meal, and thankfully this one did not disappoint. Rich, fruity and well accompanied by the crispness of the garlic toast.

Crab, avocado and prawn with a grapefruit vinaigrette

Chicken suprême, stuffed with a mozzarella & jambon de
Bayonne farce, baked with a herb crust and served on gratin
dauphinoise with a red wine jus

Now, you'll be forgiven for mistaking the meat in the picture above for lamb at first glance - with the herb crust and threat of pink from within. But no, this was the Poulet (£11.50) ordered by MrF. Not a fan of ordering chicken in restaurants, finding them often too dull or lacking imagination, this one had me literally reeling with envy - chicken suprême, stuffed with a mozzarella & jambon de Bayonne farce, baked with a herb crust and served on gratin dauphinoise with a red wine jus. *droooooooool*. And yup, it tasted great too. NOT that I'm bitter of course.

Thankfully though, I'd ordered pretty well myself, opting for the Magret de Canard aux Pruneaux (£14) - duck breast roasted pink on a winter vegetable & potato rosti, with a prune & Armagnac sauce. De-bloody-licious! The duck was soft, and juicy, and pink, and absolutely gratifying to eat. Perched atop a vegetable rosti and drenched in that wonderful fruity and boozy sauce, I was literally in food heaven. Or at least I thought I was, until I reached dessert!

Duck breast roasted pink on a winter vegetable
& potato rosti, with a prune & Armagnac sauce

Banana Tarte Tatin

Banana Tarte Tatin!!! OMFG.... £5.50 worth of groan inducing, eye closing, fist clenching, foodie pleasure. I couldn't finish the whole thing, but what I could manage was shamefully good. A proper sexy pud... what a way to end a perfect dinner date.

Courteous and inoffensive service throughout, detectable food, fabulous prices - will I return? Just try stopping me!

Overall score: 8

They also offer a 3 course set price lunch for £10.90 Monday to Saturday, you'd be mad not to give that a try.

Pierre Victoire
9 Little Clarendon Street
Facebook: @PierreVictoire
Phone: 01865 316616

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