"Villandry does polite, business-friendly dining very well"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Although they call themselves a Grand Café, Villandry has little in common with the Wolseley. In fact, Villandry is more of a complex, with a delicatessen, cake shop, florist and three separate dining areas with varying degrees of formality, plus seating on the pavement for eating alfresco. When it first opened in 1990 it was just a food shop, at a time when gourmet delis were much harder to come by; in the late 90s the venue added the restaurant, offering French cuisine.
There is another Villandry in Bicester, an Oxfordshire town best known for its discount designer shopping village, and now new owner Philippe Le Roux (he introduced Le Pain Quotidien to Britain) plans to open a flagship branch in the St. James’s area later this year. He’s also stated he wishes to launch a new Villandry a year as long as he finds the right locations, so in the future it could be popping up on all chic, old-moneyish high streets/shopping destinations, such as Marylebone High Street and the Royal Exchange.
For Villandry is not trendy, but it does polite, business-friendly dining very well. This is mirrored on the menu, which is still mostly French, but has a nod to international favourites like ceviche, and lemongrass prawns with mango. There's a very summery smoked duck salad with pickled beetroot and orange, and another with a crispy soft poached egg, bacon lardons and pickled cauliflower, both pleasingly reliable dishes.
Grilled sea bass is well-cooked, paired with nice flavours: artichoke, olives and sundried tomatoes. The 28-day Galloway fillet is good too, and great value at £22.90 with chips and béarnaise. And we really like the red berry trio coupe, with scoops of raspberry sorbet, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, raspberries and bits of meringue, all drizzled over with warm coulis.
Their Enomatic wine dispenser allows them to offer wines by the glass that are usually only available by the bottle, such as the Pouilly-Fumé, yet another advantage for working lunches and courteous company.
Leila reviewed Villandry Restaurant on Tue 25 Jun 2013