Hot Table: The Balcon

If you like The Wolseley, you’ll love London’s newest grand brasserie, overseen by Head Chef Vincent Menager – who’s worked under the likes of Albert Roux and Alain Ducasse. The restaurant is dominated by a balcony reached by two spiral staircases: this is the lofty home of the Champagne cellar, and gives the restaurant its name. The bubbly stuff is a theme here: there’s even a Champagne Angel to guide your choices.

The menu at the all-day brasserie blends classic French dishes with British produce and techniques. The Scottish scallops were plump and delicious, and complemented perfectly by smoky chorizo. The cassoulet bean stew was equally tasty, and the very definition of hearty, accompanied as it was by Toulouse sausage, Berkshire smoked pork belly and Gressingham duck leg. The obliging French waiting staff couldn’t recommend the chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice-cream highly enough, so it seemed rude not to sample it. They were right, but let it be said that this dessert could feed a family of four.

Too full to move, I staggered to the next-door bar for a nightcap before heading home. What a treat: the chic and cosy St James Bar takes its design inspiration from Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment, and serves vintage cocktails from antique recipe books. I will be back.

Sofitel St. James, 8 Pall Mall, SW1
020 7968 2900