Having enjoyed, but not quite believed, Mireille Guiliano's secrets for staying slim while fine dining every day - revealed in the book French Women Don't Get Fat - a visit to the Merlot Brasserie lends credence to her philosophy.
Simplicity and sophistication are at the heart of a menu with plenty to tempt the tastebuds. While this modern cuisine has wide-ranging influences, there is an indelible French stamp.
Beginning with an aperitif of something sparkling and crisp, as recommended by the superb French waiting staff, I enjoyed an appetiser of salt and pepper tiger prawns served with chilli jam and glass noodle salad - enough to awaken your appetite without sating your hunger. To follow, on a damp and dreary autumn day, the slow-cooked belly pork, beautifully tender and sweet, accompanied by Asian greens, chilli lime sauce and rice, provides a warming treat.
And here comes the magic. Somehow the portion size and balance of accompaniments mean I can still enjoy a citrus cheesecake with blueberry sauce and clotted cream for dessert, and leave feeling happy, not hefty. Merlot's stylish decor, great service and delicious food make it a top choice for entertaining, and enjoying the company of, clients.
Where: Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucs
Contact: 01242 574008
How much: £35 for three-course lunch.