RESTAURANT REVIEW: Venetia van Kuffeler visits Belgravia institution La Poule au Pot
In London’s summer months, there’s no better spot for an al fresco lunch than the terrace of La Poule au Pot. Diners sit at tables with white umbrellas dotted beneath the trees in Pimlico Square well into the afternoon, watching the world go by with glass in hand. Although the sun was shining on the cold November day we visited, eating inside was the sensible option. The cosy restaurant was packed with clientele enjoying lunch by candlelight.
A Belgravia institution, La Poule au Pot has been in its current location since 1964, and appears to have barely changed since it first opened its doors. The bric-à-brac interior is decorated with festoons of dried flowers, and houses various intimate nooks to enjoy your meal. It’s no surprise that La Poule au Pot has been voted “best for romance” in the whole of London by Hardens guide for many years in succession.
Alongside the wonderfully rich ambience, the menu is classic French too, and includes escargots, coquilles, terrine de foie gras, plus warming main courses like coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and cassoulet. A table d’hôte menu offers two courses for £23.75 and three for £27.50, but we went straight for the a la carte choosing soupe à l’oignon gratinée that was as spectacular as when I last had it 15 years ago. I followed this with a fillet steak served with béarnaise sauce and chunky frites, and my companion had the original house dish, La poule au pot. Our plates were soon clean – this was excellent food. Our meal was complete after sharing a tarte tatin, which was sharp and bursting with flavour.
Were I to return, other menu choices that caught my eye included the pan-fried foie gras, the bouillabaisse (traditional fish stew from Marseilles) and the saddle of rabbit with white wine, garlic and herbs. The wine list is extensive, but most diners seemed to be indulging in Les Vins Maison Blanc et Rouge, which they also serve in magnums for £46.00 a pop. (These appeared to be very popular – even at lunchtime!) La Poule au Pot is clearly a good spot to take thirsty friends.
Nestled between Sloane Square’s Royal Court Theatre, Cadogan Hall, the Apollo Victoria Theatre and the Victoria Palace Theatre, the restaurant has now extended its lunch Table d’Hôte menu to a pre-theatre menu, (available Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 6pm).
Despite scalding plates and some unsmiling staff, La Poule au Pot was buzzing, and I can see why. People return here again and again to enjoy a wonderful taste of rural France.
LA POULE AU POT, 231 Ebury street, London SW1W 8UT
T: +44 (0)20 7730 7763