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French House, Soho

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user reviews of French House, Soho

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Charles De Gaulle is said to have composed his speech rallying the people of France after it fell to Germany at The French House . On my visit it was full of rude, pompous cock's.
Tuna - 15 Apr 2017 15:07
dull
becks007 - 13 Jan 2017 16:11
read so much about it recently that I had to check it out when in the area.

Exactly what I expected - small, expensive, transient clientele (self included), a few regulars and half pints :-)

Some photos at my walking blog - http://mappiman.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/200116-jubilee-walkway-camden-loop.html
Mappiman - 22 Jan 2016 12:07
This place always gets a good review, but on the two occasions I've tried it I've found the staff to be slow/if not ignorant in recognising a waiting thirsty customer, and other customers at the bar to be snobbish to me and my friend ( I hope it's not because she's not British).
I presume this is just an unfortunate night or two and hope to add this to our current routine run of soho bars, the Coach and Horses being the number 1 at the moment.
NumbersandLetters - 22 Nov 2015 16:44
In the main I am deeply unimpressed by the pubs and their clientele in Soho - there are far nicer and more personable places in other parts of our Capital City - but, should you be stuck in Soho, then The French is the right place to be.

Often packed, a promising sign, you can stand also in the street with your refreshment. Yes they only do half pints - is that a serious deal breaker?

I am on the hunt for the Breton Cider and I definitely do not fall into the, "cool", category mentioned in another post.
NLBS - 15 May 2012 16:43
very small and doesnt sell beer in pints. Sounds horrific but does have a certain bohemian atmosphere which makes it worth a sniff 7/10
stokes1982 - 7 Jun 2011 12:10
amazing pub, no pints, only small beers. nice, passed by here the other day while in the centre of london, would love to come back a bit more if it was not so far away from me (paddington)
mick_2000 - 26 May 2011 19:46
Small Soho pub, just off Old Compton Street and decorated similar to a French bistro. There are old black and white pictures of French people on the walls plus old Ricard advertisements. On the Royal Wedding day, there were more people outside than inside, with many drinkers enjoying the weather and the party atmosphere. There were plenty of free tables inside. Whilst there were no ales, Breton Cider was a suitable alternative for me. A fairly atmospheric pub.
blue_scrumpy - 4 May 2011 17:35
My favourite pub/wine bar in London. I foun this gem some years ago on my annual visit to the UK from Australia. A bonus is one of the staff, Dwayne is an Aussie, full of local knowledge, great tips for which shows to go and see. Great wine list by the glass there, perfect for pre-theatre drinks, a glass of champers and a red ned. The staff are all very friendly and helpful. It does get crowded but that's the price for being a friendly, atmospheric and cosy bar. I'm brining friends with me in June and I know they will love it. Full of character. While the bar staff are casual, that's what I like being an Aussie, no pretensions here. An oasis in the heart of Soho.
BurleighBT - 1 May 2011 02:48
Great place, makes being an alcholic and wearing a cravat respectable, and you'll be in good company.
Juanfortheroad - 15 Mar 2011 20:03
This is a nice place to go for a drink if you enjoy some unusual beverages normally not available in your average London pub. From Normandy Cider to some decent claret to Green Chartreuse, you can sit down and get merry on some unusual tipple...... IF....and it's a MASSIVE IF......
you picked the one night of the decade that it isnt rammed to the rafters with silly wannabees and weirdos in fancy dress pretending to have a personality. In addition, you have a river of human garbage flowing by outside. You cant rip up and move the place 3 miles west, so I guess we just have to put up with it... for now.
expertoppinion - 25 Feb 2011 10:36
They serve dark leffe which is a good enough excuse to spend some time here.
crimsonpirate - 16 Nov 2010 15:46
The bar staff almost immediately took a dislike to us, I suspect because our group did not fit their preferred clientele profile. i.e. pretentious and Caucasian. They were very rude almost from the outset and one female member of staff was particularly set on making us most unwelcome. Although the doorman was stood approximately 2 metres away and paid us no mind, the aforementioned female member of bar staff (who was at least twice the distance away) started shouting at us to "shush" across the noisy bar room in a very aggressive manner. She was particularly picking out my Chinese girlfriend as the source of the entire din in the bar. On two occasions my girlfriend wasn't actually speaking at the time when she was ordered to shush and when she does speak she is softly spoken. A couple who sat near us protested her innocence as they saw she wasn't actually speaking at the time. We were a group of 4 (one Iraqi, one Chinese and 2 English) and we were not making more noise than anyone else and we certainly were not being rowdy, she just didn't like us. People do talk in bars but not this one, not unless you want to be confronted by a growling barmaid and thrown out. A second female member of staff followed us out and started shouting at my girlfriend in an attempt to escalate the situation on the street. The place is staffed by unprofessional, aggressive, vacuous, pretentious, wannabees (with the exception of the doorman who was professional and polite throughout). This is the first bar I have ever been in where the bar staff try to start fights. All style, no substance and certainly not the place to go if talking to friends or having a good time is your thing!
cruz - 11 Nov 2010 00:29
The bar staff almost immediately took a dislike to us, I suspect because our group did not fit their preferred clientele profile. i.e. pretentious and Caucasian. They were very rude almost from the outset and one female member of staff was particularly set on making us most unwelcome. Although the doorman was stood approximately 2 metres away and paid us no mind, the aforementioned female member of bar staff (who was at least twice the distance away) started shouting at us to "shush" across the noisy bar room in a very aggressive manner. She was particularly picking out my Chinese girlfriend as the source of the entire din in the bar. On two occasions my girlfriend wasn't actually speaking at the time when she was ordered to shush and when she does speak she is softly spoken. A couple who sat near us protested her innocence as they saw she wasn't actually speaking at the time. We were a group of 4 (one Iraqi, one Chinese and 2 English) and we were not making more noise than anyone else and we certainly were not being rowdy, she just didn't like us. People do talk in bars but not this one, not unless you want to be confronted by a growling barmaid and thrown out. A second female member of staff followed us out and started shouting at my girlfriend in an attempt to escalate the situation on the street. The place is staffed by unprofessional, aggressive, vacuous, pretentious, wannabees (with the exception of the doorman who was professional and polite throughout). This is the first bar I have ever been in where the bar staff try to
cruz - 11 Nov 2010 00:16
I went there having read it was historical and interesting - unfortunately I didnt really like it, too cramped and too full of "cool" people. At least they served Leffe - note all beers are ONLY served as half-pints.
adamwalsh - 9 Aug 2010 21:17
a superb quirky little bar...with good service and an impressive range of malts...nice "local" vibe...and a few characters...

as the name suggests there's a bit of a french thing going on (good wine, and small measures of rubbish lager) so perhaps not a surprise there's no bitter, but it works rather well...both for a session and a quick one...
The_Speckled_Hen - 2 Jul 2010 15:53
Very much like France it's self;a nice enough place, but full of smelly, horrible,pointless people.
OldBaileyHack - 10 Jan 2010 20:18
Brendan Behan, Tommy Cooper and Suggs have all drunk here.....frankly, that's good enough for me. Great olives on the bar as well.
strummerville - 2 Oct 2009 22:20
This is a very, very, small one-roomed pub. Itís so small thereís no room for any tables, just stools at the bar and at shelves round the sides of the room. Thereís no real ale, and the only lagers are Kronenbourg and Carlsberg. Itís got lots of character with many original features remaining, but with no real ale and a refusal to sell pints (presumably pretentiousness?) it hardly qualifies as a pub. It probably belongs in France.
RexRattus - 9 Aug 2009 19:35
They do a very good bottle of French Cider for £8; (I know it probably gets brewed and bottled in Bermondsey, but it does taste good and is highly recommended). And is alot easier than having to phart about ordering beer in half glasses and try passing over the heads of some out of work actor blocking free access to and from the bar, who last worked circa 1964 holding Larry or Jojnnie's old spear down the Waterloo road. The best place to be, is actually standing outside for a smoke, drink, chat and look at life going by. However, why oh why are none smokers aload to take up so much space outside? The outside of pubs is the smokers kingdom, you lot have the inside. Leave it to us fun lovers of the Virgina weed to look after and enjoy of a summer afternoon and evening with a glass to hand.
FARTINGGHOST - 21 Jul 2009 15:08
Great watering hole for post-audition heart starter. Staff always on the ball, especially the Wiz from Oz who accomodates moi with a proper glass instead of a farty glass; my big mits make a pint one look like a half any day. Great place to stand outside, enjoy the pleasures of a Cigar or two listening to the I pod. Recommended.
DEPTFORDDUTCH - 30 Jun 2009 21:01
A lovely, clean characterful place. Only irretation is the usual bar conversation,
Me:"Pint of ......... please?"
Staffer:"We only serve in halfs I'm afraid"
Me:"Two halves always made a pint in my day"

Why? I get served beer in nice pint like glassses in France, after two world wars, these surrendering/back stabbers do catch on you know. Move on and start serving beer up in pints please. Apart from that a great bar.
BARONVONBEERBARREL - 27 Jun 2009 11:49
A lovely place,lovely landlady,good bar staff. Pleasant smoking area outside to. Only downside are the few actor laddie Northern queens who take up space;holding out for a mug to buy them a drink and be bored to death. And what is the point in serving beer in only half glasses still. It was a quaint gimmick halfa century ago when the place had a true French flavour.;not anymore, it'sas French as MacDonalds fries. Move on into the21st century.
anonymous - 28 Apr 2009 16:14
Conan was a real gent. What a shame.
Albert_Campion - 11 Nov 2008 16:10
Conan Nicholas, a regular drinker here over the years sadly died today, after a short illness. 93 yo, I can say his age without fear of being told off !.
R i p.
Leonard_skinhead - 8 Nov 2008 09:41
Superb atmos, and Breton Cidre, a gem
Badger350 - 29 Jun 2008 16:02

Drinking Guinness in the French House in the middle of London - who says globalisation couldnt work?


EskimoJoe - 18 Sep 2007 13:42
I have been using the French on and off for about 22 years, this has to be one of the better establishments in Soho. On the drinks front the emphasis is on wine rather then beer, their is a supberb wine list and they serve Breton cider, which is always nice. The clientle are from the arty spectrum of life, so givin you a very interesting array of people. The people are very friendly and their is always a high proportion of good/interesting looking women. I have meet some very interesting people over the years. The bar staff seem to stay in the job for a long time, so when you go in their is an air of familiarity, which is a nice touch in these homogonised days. My only complaint about the French is that it closes too early, it could do with a apres midnight licence, not that I want to get juiced into the wee small hours, but on the assumption that you have been to the theatre and it has turned out at 2245, you might want a civilised hour post show drink. Apart from that no problems.
theregent - 9 Sep 2007 09:02
I and a friend spent an enjoyable two hours there yesterday evening - though it was very busy when we left at six. They sell bottles of Old Peculiar.
clissold345 - 23 Aug 2007 16:42
Doesn't serve pints, so don't be shocked for paying £2 for a half of beer.

Best bet is to go for something like a Leffe Blond and stand outside watching the world go by. Staff are nice enough but the venue is fairly cramped. I smelt some nice foody odours wafting around, so I presume they do food as well.

Fast becoming one of my new hangouts.
steve5312 - 13 Aug 2007 09:59
psudes corner
theregent - 30 Jul 2007 13:56
Maybe a bit too popular for it's own good these days but an absolute gem when not too busy. Who needs pints of fighting-juice when you can have bottles of breton cider or Leffe brune? I like to pop in for a post-prandial brandy & coffee while waiting for the hordes to clear from the tube station.

Pretentious, moi?
CountVonCount - 1 Jul 2007 18:07
I was taken to the French House on a Thursday night in May by a Parisian who couldn't believe that I'd never been there. Three of us went. Yes it was very packed,limited in crisp type snacks and some basic soft drinks but luckily we got a seat facing the open window overlooking the street. Then it was quite charming. My friend also spotted Robert Plant and we chatted with him and his record producer for an hour or so. Perhaps something to do with one of our number - a beautiful Arabic speaking Moroccan woman
...
anonymous - 23 Jun 2007 14:56
MERDE.
rampantwurzel - 27 Apr 2007 12:28
Not a great drinkers pub - crowded and uncomfortable - maybe a little too "French". :P

The pub has some interesting history and associations. Restaurant is good.
seasiderMM - 4 Mar 2007 17:22
I like this place, but really - a French bar with no ales, (virtually) no seating, and a refusal to sell pints ranking in the Top 10 of BEER in the Evening?!?!? Sacre bleu!
topdog_andy - 17 Jan 2007 10:29
The pretension problem isn't the French House, it is what it is, but the Guardianista mob who bang on about how wonderful France is until you want to scream "If it's so naffing wonderful why don't you shove off and live there?" Mind you I was first taken here by a beautiful half-Asian woman who later did go and live in France. C'est la vie, pet.
beeronaut - 14 Jan 2007 21:12
Whenever I'm in this pub, or more likely stood on the pavement outside it as is more often the case, everything feels right with the world! try it!
Judeinputney - 4 Jan 2007 17:40
I find it almost impossible to visit London without popping in to this pub, whether for a couple of quiet mid-afternoon drinks when it's fairly empty, or for an evening session when it's packed.

It's also a comfortable place to visit alone - you can be left to read the paper and contemplate life, if that's what you feel like doing, or you can be drawn into all manner of conversations within a few minutes.

Great olives on the bar, and I'm more than happy to go without a pint when I can be drinking Ricard, Leffe Brune, Marc de Bourgogne, French Cider, various eaux de vie, etc.(and they do a fine Bloody Mary, if you like that sort of thing).

The restaurant upstairs, as others has said, is excellent.

I once nearly broke my neck here, though, when I fell headlong down the stairs to the khazi. I think my wet shoes must have caused me to slip (well, that's my theory, anyway).


Ricard - 17 Nov 2006 16:31
If you're in Soho this place has to be visited. There is a real feel of nostalgia and history to the French House. A great range of drinks you wouldn't find in many other places. When the weather is hot get a bottle of the cider, stand outside and check out the passing world. The restaurant upstairs can also be highly recommended.
monsieurw - 10 Oct 2006 10:59
I wouldn't say it's pretentious, it's just French, and it's difficult to distinguish between the two.

Came here for the first time on Sunday afternoon and fell in love with the place. Great decor, loved the bottled cider (nice way to get around the halves-issue), and the barmaid was quite quirky (in a pleasant way). Will definitely be going back.
topdog_andy - 3 Jul 2006 13:14
It is true what they say about this pub, an experience thats is worth it if you are in the area.
anonymous - 11 May 2006 11:33
Bloody wonderful. Just when I thought this pub couldn't get any better- it has the atmosphere of a crowded ski cable car jammed between summits with a free bar- having inadvertently found myself in soho while dog-sitting on a saturday afternoon, I asked if I could bring the mutt in. We were greeted with a yes, 'he's likely to be better behaved than most of the customers' and offered a bowl of water (the dog, not me). Bloody good show, particualrly after all the tourist theme pubs on whitehall all did us the favour of not letting us in. Wonderful crowd and the bar staff are diamonds (even wearing their own t-shirts, as opposed to some brewery's). Only drawback- they only serve halves, although I kind of like that kookiness and it shuts at 11:00. Viva France. x

I asked if I could bring in a dog I was dogsitting for the weekend and inadvertently found myself in soho on a saturday afternoon
TomAngel - 9 May 2006 16:44
I love this Pub.
Its friendly, welcoming, and generally great!
The Cider is worth a go...buy it by the bottle.
They do a good strong coffee, as you would expect decent wine and they disaprove of mobile phones.
Allez allez allez!!!
Jesper - 15 Mar 2006 12:52
Definitely pretentious but it is a great place and I think everyone should go at least once to see if they like it.
anonymous - 15 Dec 2005 10:43
Nice pub, shame about the rude, obnoxious patrons (one guy walked past and drank my companion's wine claiming it was his) and the tosser behind the bar.

Shame. The nouveau beajolais wasn't bad at all.
brodie_bruce - 20 Nov 2005 11:41
Lots of people will hate this place. Thank God - there's little enough room for us as it is. It's a good place to be thin.
Personally I don't like the John Smiths beer so I stick to the Pastis here - they have the excellent HB as well as the usual Ricard. Not to mention the cider - though I don't know whether they're still going to be serving Gavin's Christmas Pudding Vodka, which used to be such a seasonal treat. Best approach to the French is to get pissed quickly and regard the whole thing as a kind of site-specific performance art experience.

One of a kind.
flat3 - 4 Oct 2005 17:59
Tiny, smoky, crowded, they only serve halves, full of luvvies, journalists, aspirant poets ... brilliant.

Ah yes, one of Soho's legendary drinking dens. Where so many new novels have been spoken about but never written, where pretty young wannabe actresses fall in love with inflated, drink-soden directors.

Have been a regular for 10 years and still get served by some of the same professional bar staff. Great pub for the booze or the conversation ... vive la French House.

Tizer - 19 Sep 2005 18:18
Another Soho gem,more of an afternoon sort of pub, bit too gloomey and depressing in the evening when the drink has started to take it's toll on the clientele, who can get a bit mauldlin to say the least. try the excellent French ciders on offer and the varied aray of wines and champagnes.
During the day you can be as insuler as you want hiding in the corner with the papers or as gregarious as you please theres always someone willing to engage in friendley and quite frankly amusing conversation on a varierty of themes , go there with a non judgemental attitude and you'll have a good time and want to visit whenever the opportunity arises
theregent - 1 Sep 2005 18:54
Try the cider from Normandy - really good....but it sneaks up on you!
Regis - 10 Aug 2005 18:39
Strange little pub. Only serves in halves, beer's good though. Standard prices for area. Locals are oddballs (older gents who like to stare).
Nice for quiet drink.
Churchill_the_Muss - 13 Apr 2005 13:22
Comedy Francophile boozer. Check out the clientele smoking gittanes while drinking Ricard, no joke, i'm serious. If they had a juke box they'd only have Edith Piaf on it. Like something out of allo, allo.
Priceless..
ganger - 12 Mar 2005 14:14
The people make this pub -top characters...If your in conversation with someone,you`ll probably be as entertained by the chat going on next to you....If you can breathe out-its a quiet night!
kierandinan - 12 Feb 2005 18:22
Great place. Uncompromising, smoky, diverse crowd, weeny beers, fabulous place to spend the evening.

Look at the yellowing cartoons on the wall, read about the history, and don't be boring.
Katherine - 8 Nov 2004 17:24
The French House is a great pub. Heaps of character and very chilled.
Justin - 28 Oct 2004 10:50
This is a chilled out pub, brilliant for a bottle of cider standing outside in the beautiful lights of soho. With the passing bustle spending an hour or two with friends drinking before moving on is the perfect way to start the evening. It is a tradition to visit on every trip to london for our barber shop group (Short Back and Sides)
Freddie Mills - 21 Oct 2004 19:13
Around '98 and 2000 I traveled to london approx 6 times from Zurich for work. Each time without fail I insisted my buddy Stef had to take me to the French House for 1 or a dozen (Pastis + 1/2). These memories will linger with me for ever. I hope the place remains as I will return for a few more.
Benedict - 21 Oct 2004 01:13
Go there for the people. It's a classic.
anonymous - 9 Oct 2004 17:48
I used to drink in the Duke of York, aka the French when I lived in Soho. Loved it but it is a shame that Gascon has gone. never mind, will always revisit.
richard - [email protected] - 10 Mar 2004 10:31
one of the best in town, a drinkers pub with bags of character. we all know you can't beet a slow poured half!
adam, chef - 7 Feb 2004 21:53
I was going to give this place a bit of a slating becuase of their refusal to serve pints. But I have just noticed here that somebody has observed a no mobile policy and for this alone I reviewed my opinion. Not bad, if a little tight.
Good for: A swift half
thenationofjames - 28 Nov 2003 16:16
Had a lovely evening here with two of my new girlfriends.It not often that strangers talk to you nowadays.Great atmosphere and lots of free nibbles.Great bottles of red wine.The evening was only marred by my friend Helen having her bag stolen.
Suzie Gibbs - [email protected] - 1 Nov 2003 11:10
One of Londons best pubs. Nice mix of characters and eccentricity. It has the lovely natural feeling of history and age that so many pubs try to manufacture. Good choice of drinks.
Gary - 26 Aug 2003 11:21
"driving"? Drinking, of course...
Darryl - 3 Aug 2003 11:52
A bit of a curiosity in a world of faceless crap boozers - won't serve pints, and generally places a premium on civilised driving. Nice place for a swift half.
Darryl - 3 Aug 2003 11:51
A fine example of a Pub (note this is NOT a BAR)in London where .... you can have a chat with anyone generally if you like.

Friendly atmosphere - more so at the weekend when the suits are not around.

And yes no pints and no.. NO mobiles... take one and be shouted at if it rings - it's your call :)
vicc - 11 Jul 2003 12:35
Great at lunch-times, when it is quite quiet. Can get really busy in the evenings when everyone stands outside blocking the pavement. They do serve Guinness - my favourite tipple, but can't bring myself to buy it in anything less than a pint glass. A good place to sip a Leffe or two though.
paul - 19 Jun 2003 17:13
Watering hole of painters,musicians,writers and actors. Never ask for a pint or all eyes will be on you and, leave your camera at home as snaps are forbidden. Famous people to have frequented include Francis Bacon, Jeffrey Bernard, Brendhan Behan. General De Gaul was a regular in the restaurant. It is said that Dylan Thomas misplaced his manuscript of Under Milk Wood whilst slowly loosing consiousness here. Nice decour as its never been altered for decades.
I found it a bit intimidating as if you were not from the above categories you felt a bit out of place. Coach & Horses down the road is the opposite
andrew bridge - 11 Jun 2003 18:21
Small qurky pub with lots of interesting theatrical characters. What ever you do, make sure your mobile is switched off-the landlord hates the things! Serves beer in halves only. Restaurant upstairs is supposed to be excellent although I haven't tried it. If unusual boozers are your thing, try this one out,you'll love it.
anonymous - 5 Apr 2003 11:20

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