170 Great Portland Street
020 7631 3131
by Hashley Brown
Gracie Spoon and I had much to catch up on: I'd ungraciously missed her birthday party, and she'd just walked the Camino de Santiago. It had been too long, and these things needed a good airing. Seeing as she'd just returned from walking the holy path of St James, what better place then to breakfast than that mecca for Fitzrovian acolytes, Villandry?
Villandry is one of those emporium type places where due to the total absence of price labels and the overabundance of tins of cassoulet, everything seems inordinately expensive. It's also always full of genteel ladies taking tea. In reality, it is inordinately expensive (a tenner for the full english), but then they have nice thick napkins, so everything balances out in the end.
Sadly the food didn't quite match up to the napkins - yet again a case of good ingredients sloppily chargrilled (see The Oxford). Correct me if I'm wrong but there seems to be an alarming trend in the high end deli business lately of sticking everything on the chargrill until it is a) dry and lifeless (bacon/toast) or b) unappetisingly blackened (tomatoes/sausage). And today the mushrooms tasted unnervingly cheesy. And, the staff seemed to have been employed for surliness over attentiveness.
I fear that had we splashed out a little further and visited the real Chateau Villandry (the last of the Renaissance Loire Valley chateau, built 1532) they would not have been so cavalier in their chargrilling. But then again, dear Gracie and I may never have discovered our shared fear of cassoulet.