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French House (London)

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  • Gets crowded
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      25.07.2000 07:33
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      The French House is at 49 Dean Street, a free-house bang in the middle of Soho. This is my favourite London drinking spot. I have introduced many people to it, and all consider the place with affection. Photographs all over the walls reflect some of the clients over the years; big on the Sohohemian set, jugglers, boxers, Francis Bacon, Dylan Thomas, Heath (cartoons, not yachts.) I think they've recently been replaced with photocopies. Make sure you see the atmospheric large photo of the pub during the 40's on the left as you walk in, in the alcove at the back. de Gaulle wrote his speech here to free the French. The place was known as the centre for the Free French during WWII. It's not particularly Frenchified now. One curiosity is that you will only get half pints here (the French influence.) If you will only drink ale, I could not commend it. On the first floor is the French House Dining Room, where for about £20 a head you will have a delightful meal (the meals in fact look even better value at first glance, but the veg is about £3 a portion). The food is imaginative and always varied, the sort of thing you might not throw in the pan yourself – all sorts of pieces of beast and fowl. Good puds for about £4. You will need to book to eat though – there are only about a dozen places, and the place’s reputation is good. The décor is, well, lacquer. Downstairs though I would recommend the Breton cider for a fiver a bottle; live and fruity. Which is what the whole place is. Very friendly, chatty, glorious grandes dames et jeunes filles, old-timers and young rakehells. Ah oui, La Maison Francaise. Allez-vous!


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