Our guide to the best places to eat during office hours.
WHAT? A Fitzrovia fixture since 1991, Michelin-starred Pied-a-Terre specialises in classic French cooking with the obligatory modern twist. It’s quiet but fun, a nostalgic throwback to a pre-street food, pre-pop up culinary scene, when great dining still meant baskets of artisan bread and linen tablecloths rather than gourmet burgers served on chopping boards.
WHERE? Nestled among pizzerias, pubs and coffee shops on the pleasantly leafy Charlotte Street, it discreetly blends into its smart surroundings with an unobtrusive sign and plain black awning.
WHO? Founding owner David Moore worked front of house in a number of top UK restaurants (including Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons) before opening Pied-a-Terre in 1991. Head chef Marcus Eaves won his first Michelin star at 27 after opening Moore’s second restaurant L’Autre Pied in 2007 and now runs the kitchen at Pied-a-Terre.
ORDER THIS... As one is entitled to expect from a Michelin-rated eatery, everything was near enough faultless, but two things stood out: a starter of lamb breast with globe artichokes, soft polenta and black olive sauce, and a transcendent mushroom broth amuse-bouche.
BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? An enjoyable mix. Though the clientele are smart, the atmosphere is decidedly convivial, and while the staff are impeccably attentive, they aren’t afraid to share a joke. On the Tuesday lunchtime I was there, a giggly couple on the next table were celebrating a birthday while a business meeting took place on the table behind.
NEED TO BOOK? You probably should. The dining area is small and when I went it was pretty much full.
THE VERDICT... Pied-a-Terre blends faultless service, intricately prepared classic cooking and delicious wines without any of the stiffness usually associated with fine dining. It’s a winning combination that goes some way to explaining its longevity in a restaurant scene that’s changed beyond recognition over the last twenty years
ONE MORE THING... The restaurant has an arty streak: over the years it’s amassed an impressive collection of modern art including works by Sir Peter Blake, Howard Hodgkin and Richard Hamilton, all of whom have enjoyed eating there.
THE DETAILS: Pied-a-Terre daily lunch menu costs £28.50 for a starter and a main, £36 for three courses or £60 for six courses. Drinks not included. To book a table, call 020 7636 1178, or visit pied-a-terre.co.uk.