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.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
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|
|http://villierscoffeeco.co.uk||+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|
If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead.
Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.