Need a special venue to treat someone important? Here are two exciting options: one is an oasis of cool, calm sophistication, the other a sexy, stylish dining den.
Pied à Terre in Charlotte Street, central London, whispers class from the discreet facade to the thick carpet, beautiful linen and wall art inside. Slick service and Michelin-starred chef Marcus Eaves at the helm means you’re in safe hands. This kind of style doesn’t come cheap – £65 for a starter and main course – but both the ingredients and the cooking are superb.
Small freebie canapés begin the experience – a tiny potato and truffle croquette being a near-to-perfect morsel. Then beautifully arranged starters, including roasted breasts and crispy leg of quail, Douglas fir purée and hazelnut vinaigrette, arrive. There’s time to linger over wine before main courses are delivered. The standout dish is the best end of Cornish lamb with confit wet garlic, ragout of peas and smoked bacon with mint jus. Desserts include a delicate millefeuille pastry with raspberries and cream. Smart but not stuffy, this kind of evening leaves you in a mellow mood.
Bob Bob Ricard is the polar opposite. Deep in the heart of London’s Soho, this glamorous, lively restaurant is a dark, atmospheric combination of glass, mirrors and indigo-blue leather and velvet. Diners sit in curtained booths furnished with a button to order champagne, and order from a menu of British and Russian dishes.
It’s easy to see why the venue is loved by celebrity foodies and media types with its slightly decadent, rock’n’roll vibe, but those who visit just for the food won’t be disappointed. Kick off with lobster pelmeni – firm little dumplings stuffed with white meat and scattered with salmon roe – and move on to baked sole with vermouth sauce, served on a bed of spinach and stuffed with smoked sturgeon. Finish with Eton mess en perle – a pink ball of meringue stuffed with strawberry sorbet, raspberry marshmallows and cream. You’ll leave with a grin – the high spirits here are infectious.
Helena Lang is editor of Sainsbury’s magazine. Email Helena here
Let’s do lunch
Three places to hold meetings over a delicious midday meal…
Hutong at the Shard
Level 33 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1
One of the best-value treats in the capital. Choose five of the fabulous dim sum (each comprises four portions) for £28 per person and enjoy one of the most amazing views across London. Highly recommended are the crispy Peking duck rolls and ginger and spring onion lobster buns. What’s not to love?
6 Mill Hill, Leeds
Mark Husak, owner of award-winning Leeds bar The Sparrow, came up with the inspired idea of opening a blend of craft beer bar and Indian street food kitchen. The curry here comes from food-critics’ favourite Prashad, and you can sit and graze on dishes including masala dosa, a curry-stuffed pancake, okra fries, and Bundo chaat made from samosa pastry and turmeric noodles, while sipping heady brews.
Eglwysfach, Machynlleth, Powys
The restaurant at this gorgeous boutique hotel in west Wales offers innovation galore under head chef Gareth Ward. Molecular cuisine and sous-vide water baths are his trademarks. Be brave and order the excellent value lunch at £29.50 – a sample menu taunts with the briefest descriptions: tender Welsh lamb, wild salmon, mutton, organic pork and meadowsweet chocolate.