Villandry’s marbled pâtisserie counter – crammed with temptations such as salted caramel and walnut tarts, blackberry éclairs and chocolate mousses – deservedly takes centre stage at this self-proclaimed ‘grand café’. The venue has several distinct areas. The café overlooking Great Portland Street is the buzziest, even on a Saturday evening.
Behind it, the refurbished central bar strikes a rather imposing note, thanks to a formidable shade of red, while the more formal dining room on the Bolsover Street side is, by contrast, a model of understatement. It’s not often you find a restaurant where diners are happy to eat alone, but this is one such place, owing to the unshowy, affordable menu and the chance to sit unhurried and unjudged by easy-going staff. The menu covers all bases: burgers, salads, steaks, plenty of fish and seafood, and weekend brunch. Duck confit was tender and moist, and plum crumble a deliciously fruity concoction topped with chantilly cream.
Villandry seems genuinely happy to accommodate your whims, whether that’s a simple quiche in the restaurant or takeaway chocolates from the compact grocery area. It seems they’ve thought of everything: come summer, there’s a juice bar and a counter serving frozen yoghurt and ice-cream.