France - - Bon Appétit -

There is some­thing about the Bel­gravia area of Lon­don that ex­udes a faintly in­tim­i­dat­ing, chic so­phis­ti­ca­tion that mere mor­tals can only as­pire to. La Poule au Pot sits on a small is­land be­tween streets of es­tate agents and smart bou­tiques. It has its own tran­quil ter­race shaded by trees for sunny days, and a front door brack­eted by leafy pot­ted plants.

Step­ping in­side, the restau­rant is cosy, wel­com­ing and far from snobby, dec­o­rated through­out with wood, vin­tage china and glass, and the most amaz­ing swathes of wild flow­ers and herbs, which are re­freshed reg­u­larly to avoid them be­com­ing dust magnets.

Stymied by the wide choice of clas­sic dishes, my friend and I de­cided that the ta­ble d’hôte menu would suit us just fine. We both se­lected the moules marinières to start, which were ex­cep­tional, as was the fresh bread to mop up the sauce. For my main course, I de­cided to try the coq au vin, with a side dish of creamed potato, while my friend chose the selle de gigot d’ag­neau (rump of lamb). Both were rich and hearty, in keep­ing with the at­mos­phere of the restau­rant, and were washed down with a very quaf­fa­ble Pays d’oc mal­bec.

Dessert was an easy choice, with crème brûlée al­ways fea­tur­ing at the top of my list. My friend went for the mousse au cho­co­lat, an equally tra­di­tional choice. My crème brûlée was sweet and silky, with just the right crispi­ness on top, a satisfying fin­ish to a de­li­cious (and fill­ing) meal. La Poule au Pot has been a fix­ture of Lon­don’s din­ing scene since the 1960s and is fre­quently men­tioned in lo­cal guides as be­ing one of the most ro­man­tic restau­rants in the city. The am­bi­ence was cer­tainly in­ti­mate, friendly, un­hur­ried and a de­light for a re­laxed lunch with a friend, while the ser­vice struck the right bal­ance: in­for­mal but un­ob­tru­sive. Hav­ing ar­rived in a slight flus­ter, as is of­ten the case in Lon­don, I glanced at my watch over cof­fee and mar­velled at how the time had flown. Lara Dunn Open noon to 11pm daily non-stop. Ta­ble d’hôte lunch £23.75 for two cour­ses, £27.50 for three cour­ses. À la carte mains from £20.50. Christ­mas and New Year’s menus are also avail­able. 231 Ebury Street, Lon­don SW1W 8UT Tel: 0207 730 7763,

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