Pied A Terre, W1T 2NH

Michelin-starred French restaurant on busy Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia.

Behind the restrained and inscrutable exterior, decor is as understated as one might expect, with comfortable leather banquettes along the front wall for three or four tables. The rest of the small number of tables are to the rear of the restaurant, separated by the service area.

On Ewan's lunchtime visit, there were only two other diners in this front area, and a few others to the rear. Service was excellent, not too insistent or over-attentive, ably topping up glasses and regularly returning to offer bread prior to the main course. The table was set up with olives photo before we even took our seats, and more were brought when we'd finished the first bowl (they were very good, ripe and green). Bread was served with a choice of salted or unsalted butter photo.

The menu changes on a regular basis, so the one on the website and outside the restaurant just offers a sample and doesn't reflect what's actually on offer on the day photo of sample menu in June 2009. There's a separate vegetarian menu available on request, which offers a full tasting menu, set lunch and à la carte options photo of vegetarian menu in July 2009. There's also a à la carte dessert menu which differs from the set meal photo of dessert menu in July 2009. The set lunch is £24.50 for two courses, with the dessert an additional £7.50, which considering the service, the quality of the food, and the extra flourishes, amounts to good value indeed. The tasting menu is £85, with the matching wine flight another £58.

Before the starter arrived, there were three amuses-bouches photo. One was just morsel size, the next a more substantial watermelon foam with feta cheese, and finally a small 'sandwich' made of two thin crackers with a touch of foie gras paste between (similar thin crackers recurred a number of times through the meal), though Ewan's obviously had a vegetarian alternative. The clash of flavours in the velouté were a little challenging, perhaps, but certainly flavoursome, opening up the palate successfully.

Ewan's starter was a warm potato and green asparagus salad photo, tasty and fairly light, but with an overpowering grapefruit and dill emulsion surrounding it on the plate that was (mercifully) used sparingly. The tuna tartare wrapped in mooli photo wasn't too bad, either.

The main courses were even better, with a tart fine of girolle mushrooms served with broad beans, grelot onions and a chervil purée photo. The pastry of the tart was suitably delicate, leaving the work to be done by the expertly cooked mushrooms. A pan-fried john dory photo was enhanced by a superb buttery sauce.

Between the main course and dinner was a palate cleanser photo of lemon sorbet with seeds (perhaps pomegranate) underneath, fresh and lively. For the dessert proper, Sarah's chocolate mousse with marinated cherries and cubes of sherry-flavoured jelly photo was beautifully presented, whereas my farm house cheese selection photo was smaller than the full à la carte selection, but all were excellent, particularly a ripe brie, and an exceptional goat's cheese, served with the familiar thin crackers photo.

Coffee photo and tea (served in a pot) came with a stacked tray of petits fours photo (£5 in total). All of them were excellent, from the fresh raspberry tartlet, to a rich chocolate ganache.

The wine selection is extensive, with separate folders for white and red (nicely differentiated by the spine on the binding of the booklets), ranging in price from around £20 upwards. There's a recommended selection on the first page of each booklet, and the sommelier is happy to advise. Indeed, he chose us an excellent South African medium white which to complement the fish courses for a reasonable price (£31). The bottle was kept chilled and returned to the table to top up our glasses as required. A separate selection of dessert and fortified wines yielded an excellent madeira (£6) photo.

Ewan's verdict: I found it to be a slick and professional establishment which combines flair in the kitchen with immaculate and attentive service: there were no delays, glasses were refilled promptly, bread was offered around before food arrived. Eating at Pied à Terre is an enjoyable adventure, and even at set lunch prices comes with all the excellent service and full range of extras you'd expect if paying full price for an evening meal. I would happily return on the strength of this visit.

Kat's verdict: I heartily second Ewan's comments - excellent food and service, and well worth forking out for the a la carte menu (£56 for two courses) if you don't fancy what's on the lunchtime du jour menu. I was especially impressed with the insane Californian Sangiovese wine that accompanied my veal main (and the sommelier's clear joy in being asked to choose it for me).

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Last visited by Kat and Rick, 02 Oct 2009. Prices verified at that visit. Opening hours taken from the website, July 2009.

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OS X co-ord: 529485 OS Y co-ord: 181667 (Latitude: 51.518581 Longitude: -0.133552)
Last edited 2015-08-17 11:39:41 (version 19; diff). List all versions.