Villiers Coffee Co

Thumbnail - Villiers Coffee Co (20141118_142643)Following the likes of Notes and Fernandez & Wells into the food, wine and coffee market, is Villiers Coffee Co, which opened this summer. It’s tucked away, appropriately enough, on Villiers Street, which runs alongside Charing Cross station, linking the Strand with the Embankment. Villiers, or to give it its full name, Villiers All Day Dining & Coffee Co (we’ll stick with Villiers) does what it says on the tin (or more accurately, the awning): all-day dining and (excellent) coffee. Plus wine. And cake. Which aren’t on the awning.

During the day, Villiers looks and feel like an upmarket coffee shop, with a dining room at the back. There’s breakfast (commendably served until five o’clock) with lunch from noon until five. From noon onwards, the all-day dining menu is also served. In the evening Villiers morphs into a wine bar at the front, with an atmospheric, candle-lit dining room at the back.

The coffee is from James Gourmet Coffee and, as far as I know, Villiers is the only place in London where you can get it on a regular basis.

I visited twice: in the summer for lunch, not long after Villiers opened, and again in November for dinner.

February 2018: Villiers has now closed, although Gordon’s Wine Bar is still going strong.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Villiers, on Villiers Street, as approached from Charing Cross...
  • ... and here from the direction of Embankment (and with the awning down for winter).
  • Back in the summer, not only was the door open, but the window too.
  • There's no A-board, so Villiers makes do with this chalkboard hanging from the sign.
  • Stepping inside, the bar by the window, where I sat on my first visit.
  • The window and the (cake) end of the counter.
  • The counter in full, looking towards the window.
  • The counter is a thing of beauty and worth a second look.
  • As are the tiles on the floor.
  • The counter, looking the other way, with the dining area beyond.
  • Villiers through the looking glass.
  • The dining area at the back.
  • More of the seating at the back.
  • The lovely, padded bench at the back in Villiers blue.
  • If you can't find a table, you can always squeeze into this bar.
  • The view from the back, looking towards the counter.
  • Talking of which, this is the breakfast bar, right by the espresso machine.
  • The breakfast bar in more detail. In the evening, it turns into more seating.
  • The lights (and lighting) are lovely.
  • I don't normally take pictures in the toilets, but these were so well-appointed.
  • If coffee isn't your thing, there is a lot of alcohol...
  • And I do mean a lot. This is just the wine.
  • If you don't drink and are feeling left out, there are soft drinks...
  • ... and tea (for those that must).
  • Lunch and cake options are arrayed on the bar during the day.
  • More cake.
  • The hot drinks menu.
  • Meanwhile, iced coffee was all the rage during the summer.
  • Talking of which: the business end of the counter.
  • The La Marzocco espresso machine and grinder in close-up.
  • My lunch from my first visit. It doesn't look it, but that wrap was SPICY!
  • Dinner (by candlelight) from my second visit. Left to right: cauliflower, chips, beetroot.
  • My flat white, with its wonderful latte art, from the first visit.
  • 20141118_191300
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Villiers stands out largely because of its window bar and open door policy (that is, the door is kept open, at least it has whenever I’ve been past!). In the summer, the lovely, old-fashioned sash window is also open, making Villiers really inviting.

Villiers is long and thin and, like Notes and Fernandez & Wells, it’s beautifully appointed. although much smaller, it reminds me Notes on St Martin’s Lane: there’s a window bar (with four stools) on your left and the front’s dominated by a counter on the left-hand side. Unlike Notes, the lack of width means no tables opposite the counter. For more seating, head past the bar to the dining area at the back.

This is square, with three rows of two-person tables which can be joined to form larger groups (there are 14 tables, or 28 people in all). A padded-leather couch seat runs along the back wall, but otherwise the seating’s provided by chairs. During the day, the counter is laden with sandwiches and cake, which is cleared away in the evening, when bar-stools are brought out, turning counter into bar, where you can sit to drink wine. A small breakfast bar by the espresso machine, similarly turns into seating in the evening.

The décor is lovely, with a tiled floor at the front, wooden floorboards at the back. The walls are painted blue to waist level, then white, with bare brick at the back, meshing well with the wooden counter and furniture. Although there’s little natural light, mirrors opposite the counter and a whitewashed ceiling make the most of what there is, while at the back there are some lovely lights hanging from ceiling. In the evening candles appear on the tables.

It was very busy during both my visits and it can get very noisy, especially at the back. For my first visit, I had an excellent (and very spicy) curried chickpea wrap for lunch. On my return, I tried the all-day dining menu, a series of starters, platters and small plates. I had polenta chips, beetroot with mascarpone and cauliflower with sultanas and pine nuts. The cauliflower was good, the polenta lovely and the beetroot magnificent!

I had a flat white on my first visit, adorned with lovely latte art. The coffee, James Gourmet’s regular espresso blend, was sweet and went well with the milk, but I’d rather blown my palette with the curried wrap! By the time of my return, Villiers was serving its own blend (again roasted by James Gourmet; you can also buy the beans) so I tried an espresso. It was excellent, smooth, dark and full, with a hint of bitterness. It was commendably short and went down a treat in two full mouthfuls, the second with slightly more bite than the first.

If alcohol is more your thing, then there are multiple (10+) red and white wines, either by the glass or by the bottle. There are also cocktails and beer, neither of which I investigated.

Villiers is very much a family affair, owned by same family which owns Gordon’s Wine Bar a few doors down. I met with Sophie Gordon and her sister, Grace, on my first visit, while another sister, Rose, and their father, Tom, are also involved (Tom made all the furniture, including the counter).

31A VILLIERS STREET • LONDON • WC2N 6ND +44 (0) 207 925 2100
Monday 07:30 – 23:30 Roaster James Gourmet (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:30 – 23:30 Seating Tables, window-bar
Wednesday 07:30 – 23:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 23:30 Service Table
Friday 07:30 – 23:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 23:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes (in back)
Chain No Visits 16th July, 18th November 2014

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10 thoughts on “Villiers Coffee Co

  1. Saint Espresso uses mainly Square Mile Sweet Shop and Workshop but has James Gourmet Coffee on the shelves and used to serve it last month on a regular basis.

    Rapha Cycle used to serve only James Gourmet Coffee when the opened 2 years ago, I double checked it again and they are serving Workshop at the moment…

    So you are probably right after all 🙂

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