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French House, London

49 Dean Street
Tube: Piccadilly
Tel: 44 207 437 2799
view web site ›'s insider take:

The name is no mere handle: This small and crammed pub in prime Soho is Gallic from the fleurs-de-lis on its signage to its refusal to stock pint glasses—or beer. Well, there is some beer (draft Kronenberg, for instance), but it's best to go with the flow and drink (hard) Breton cider, Calvados, or, of course, wine. The place has been packed since WWII, when London-based members of the French Resistance met here. Now it's actors and journalists who lean on wooden walls lined with signed B&W boxing shots and throng the pavement nursing their halfs and sneaking phone calls (cell phones are not allowed inside). You may wonder what the fuss is about, but, with old-fashioned pubs disappearing under a tide of poseur bars and gastro-centers, this beloved institution is all the more charming for its lack of design or evolution. Upstairs, there's a tiny, decent Franglais restaurant where Fergus Henderson (of St. John) got his start in the early 1990s.

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