Stacked high with seriously fine gourmet ingredients from specialist suppliers around the world, Villandry's front-of-house foodstore is lip-smackingly good. From freshly baked breads and bouncing cheeses to cured hams, jams and handmade sweets, it's an epicurean dream.
Through the foodstore is a light and airy 100-seater no-smoking restaurant with plain decor. A minor distraction meant our waitress didn't seat us as quickly as one might expect - more staff could be on hand to cover the busy lunchtime flow. The healthy hum of dining conversation complements a discretely spaced table plan.
The service is unobtrusive, fast and friendly, not fawning. It's a place to take clients who won't appreciate being wowed with pretension or delusions of grandeur. The food and conversation should do the PR.
The lunch menu changes daily and has a modern British influence, except on price, which is more Britney (a little bit extra, but entirely bearable).
My client and I both ordered scallops with chilli-dressed salad, then rare lamb and a lean cut of veal respectively - tasty food, subtly seasoned and cooked to a high standard. If you leave room for dessert there is a good choice on offer, including a zingy lemon tart.
Where: Great Portland Street, London W1
Contact: 020 7631 3131
How much: £40 for three courses per head