Villiers Coffee Company and Dining Room near Embankment tube is an offshoot of the uber-characterful Gordon’s Wine Bar a few doors away. Run by the granddaughters of the original Mr Gordon, it’s in soft-opening till the official launch on July 1.
It would have been easy to opt for an ersatz copy of the original Gordon’s, but instead they’ve gone for a contemporary look, with a chunky wooden bar, colourful floor tiles, exposed light fittings and antique mirrors.
The concept, as declared on the window, is all day dining, so they’re big on their morning coffees and pastries (very reasonably priced), and I spied a waffle grill behind the bar. Lunches will be offered, and in the evening they have a full dinner menu, with choices such as harissa baked mackerel (£15), Hereford rib eye steak (£22), chargrilled lamb leg (£18) and roast hake (£16.50).
After trying the delicious cashew nuts roasted with olive oil and chilli, we tried a couple of starters; burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil (£6), which was delicious and sang with lightness and freshness, and a less successful sardines stuffed with pine nuts, chilli and garlic (also £6), which was perhaps undercooked and far too salty. A side of ratte potatoes in truffle butter (£2.50) was nicely done.
There’s an extensive wine list, as you’d expect, and one beer on draught (Meantime London lager). The cocktail list is small but perfectly formed, with some original creations such as the beautifully balanced ‘La Gina’, combining sherry, Aperol and gin. Prices start at a very reasonable £7.
On the site of a former Indian restaurant, Villiers is bound to get a huge amount of passing traffic, but they’ve really made an effort to stand out and do something a bit different.
Villiers Coffee Company and Dining Room*
31a Villiers Street
*No website as of yet.
Image courtesy of Rob & Dani, Flickr