June 2012: Now closed.
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This Pimlico side street spot has earned 'hidden gem' status among the capital's restaurant cognoscenti. If you've never given it a go, there's an excellent-value new set lunch here that's a good reason to make the trip. At £35, and, with the exception of 12.5% service, it really does include everything, including water, half a bottle of wine, very good coffee and as many amuses as a Michelin inspector could ever want.
Only five minutes' walk from Sloane Square - turn right at the Orange Brewery - this is one of the most genuinely French dining rooms in the capital. That's not to say there's any element of Gallic pastiche, just an understated brown and aubergine decorative scheme - much improved in recent times - which would seem entirely at home in any smart Parisian banlieu. The ambience perhaps works best at night, but it strikes the daytime visitor as comfortable and well-spaced (if without any 'electricity').
Standouts at a recent lunch included scallops, sea bream, pork, an impressive selection of French cheeses and a chocolate fondant that, if not especially unctuous, had a very good flavour. Ducasse-trained chef Gerard Virolle has a particular gift for presentation. Nothing is fussed with, but everything - from a charming selection of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, to a great array of petits fours - is at least as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.
On the wine front, the offer presents about half a dozen choices of each colour (mainly of the sorts of bottles often tagged as 'regional'). The helpful sommelier is unusually relaxed about mixing and matching your allowance (even, if required, dispensing by the glass).
Can you really get cooking of this style and quality at a better price in any major world city? If you've any nominations, please let us know (at email@example.com).
16 St Barnabas St, London, SW1W 8PE
all day noon - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 10 pm