LA POULE AU POT EBURY STREET, LONDON
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, pouleaupot.co.uk