3 weeks ago
When blue and white stripes adorn the outside of a French restaurant in London we breathe a collective sigh of déjà vu and move on to a trendy little Sri Lanken joint in Soho. But Bon Vivant, with its Tom Dixon meets Riding House interiors, stunning hearty food and relaxed good time vibes had me at bonjour.
I like the layout, a small enough room to accommodate a bunch of young dates and a couple of tables of boozy friends. More importantly, I like the food, by Head Chef Oliver Kuehler (formerly at Les Deux Salons). On a Monday night, it’s the sort of place you plan to meet for a quick feed and before you know it you’re three courses and a bottle deep. Not scenery, not a cringes local couples joint, just a great feeding in a beautiful spot.
The menu is short and to the point, reducing the awkward amount of time you spend scanning in silence. Classic fare accompanied by a great wine list. We balanced a rich foie gras starter (with quince cacao, and sauternes jelly) and very moreish brioche, with a big pot of mussels, equipped with a garlic baguette to soak up the crème and booze. For mains, the plaice with samphire and chorizo was sensational and the stuffed chicken with butternut squash a feel good, lip smacker. Add a side of dauphinois to fatten things up. Drink wines by the glass to match the food and end with an espresso martini.
While I’ve no doubt the place is full on a weekend, it makes for a thoroughly charming Monday/Tuesday date. Head there straight after work. Be playfully strict when you sit down with your date: “Just two small glasses of white for us”. Watch the stress of Monday melt away with the first morsel of whipped pate and capitulate to a second medium glass of red 20 minutes later. Hold hands for seconds before the mains arrive, then snap out of it. Marvel at “what a little find this is” and greedily eye up the bigger round tables for a group trip. Joke about making this “our place” and slap yourself on the back for being that couple who are the last to leave as staff pack away. Leave tipsy and full, perhaps not quite sure if Bon Vivant just forced you into more commitment than you were ready for.
You know it should be a little more full, but kinda don’t want it to be.
A surprising 5/5 to BV, now a solid component of your dating game.