Test Driving Petit Pois - a perfect French bistro in Hoxton

petit pois extCosy exterior at Petit Pois

What do we need to know about Petit Pois?

It’s a bijou French bistro on Hoxton Square, above renowned cocktail bar Happiness Forgets, and run by the same team. Alastair Burgess and Chris Smith are aiming for uncomplicated and affordable French cuisine and they achieve it in this simple but sophisticated setting with a menu to match.

Where will we find it?

Equidistance from Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street overground stations and Old Street tube, so an easy stroll whichever direction you’re heading from, and with plenty of hip bars to meet in on the way.

Having said that, it would be rude not to pop into Happiness Forgets in the basement below the restaurant, before (and/or after) your meal for one of their raved about cocktails.

Where’s the best seat in the house?

The cosy restaurant seats just 25, with a few small tables outside and a couple of high stools at the bar where you can get a little closer to the action, and mouth-watering aromas, from the kitchen. Larger groups can stretch across the leather banquettes on one side of the room, while couples will feel they’ve found a snug, candlelit corner pretty much wherever they’re seated. You’ll find a more mature audience of diners than the hipster crowd filling up other Hoxton establishments, and a laid-back vibe which makes it feel like a welcoming local.

petit aperitifThe house aperitif at Petit Pois

What should we drink?

Start with a cocktail, such as the House aperitif (£7.50) which is a tangy apple concoction featuring cider vinegar and topped with fizz.

As you might expect, the wine list is predominantly - although not exclusively - French, with a well-curated selection to accompany the food available by the glass (from £4.50). Bottles start at £22 for a Grenache or Sauvignon Blanc and climb up to £100 if you’re splashing out for the top end of the Fine Wine list. There are also champagnes, dessert wines, calvados and whiskeys to choose from – so it’s probably not the venue to choose for a dry evening.

And what should we order?

With a short menu of uncomplicated, comforting Gallic dishes it would be hard to choose badly.

The smell of the Blue cheese soufflé (£6) wafting through the restaurant to the table next to us was irresistible – and it tasted just as good. We also opted for the French onion soup (£5.50) topped with cheesy chunks of bread.

souffleStart with the blue cheese souffle

For the main event, don’t miss the Steak frites (£17) served sliced, medium rare with béarnaise sauce and spot-on crispy fries – there’s enough for your dining partner to steal a few as well. The Sole meunière (£18) was simple but decadent swimming in buttery parsley sauce. We’d heard good things about the side of Glazed baby onions with lardons (£3), the perfect combination of salty and sweet – the only disappointment was that there wasn’t more of it.

soleNo, there are no calories in the  sole meuniere at  ALL

Now, to the pièce de résistance. You simply can’t visit Petit Pois without sampling the Chocolate mousse (£5), served from an oversized ceramic bowl; lovingly spooned onto your plate at the table. It’s rich and creamy – the perfect way to round off a satisfying meal.

petit mousseThe must-have chocolate mousse

Overall thoughts

Whether you want to impress a date with your sophisticated taste or spend a leisurely afternoon with friends conversing over fine wine and comfort food, Petit Pois is the authentic neighbourhood bistro to have up your sleeve. Simple but impeccable cuisine in a laid-back setting – you’re sure to leave with a warm glow.

Petit Pois is at 9 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU. Find out more about Petit Pois.

Hot Dinners were invited to Petit Pois, prices were correct at the time of writing.