At a rumoured cost of pounds 500,000, the former Terrace Garden overlooking Piccadilly (well, at least you can see the tops of the double deckers) has been remodelled to house a new brasserie from Parisian chef-restaurateur, Michel Rostang.
Now, there are brasseries and brasseries. This isn't the sort of brasserie where you get a baguette sandwich with fries: it's what you and I would call a restaurant. Rostang long since earned two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant, but branched out into less formal, and less restricted, cooking by launching a series of bistrots (he has four in all) across the city, all of which have gone a bomb. Rostang's food is, primarily, fun: amusing simplicity and an interest in vegetables that would probably have a Michelin judge throwing his hands up and saying "bof!".
We had a truffle sandwich - essentially a grand, buttery toastie filled with more truffles than I've ever seen before - which was probably the single most sybaritic piece of food to pass my lips. It's one of those thing that's only available seasonally, at a seasonally varying price, but anyone who gets to taste it is a lucky bunny.
Terrace is one of those deceptively simple, informal joints: more sofa than tablecloth, more natural light than chandelier. It's guaranteed to appeal to the chrome set, but the atmosphere is relaxed enough, and tables spaced widely enough, that this shouldn't put you off.
At roughly pounds 70-pounds 75 for two with wine, it's still posh-date territory, but a good way of getting a feeling of haute without the palaver that goes with it.
Terrace, Le Meridien Piccadilly, 21 Piccadilly, W1 (0171-465 1642)
LUNCH IN W1
Bulloch's (eclectic) The Athaneum, 116 Piccadilly, W1 (0171-499 3464)
Diverso (Italian) 85 Piccadilly, W1 (0171-491 2222)
Caviar House (fish eggs) 161 Piccadilly, W1 (0171-409 0445)
Fakhreldine (Lebanese) 85 Piccadilly, W1 (0171-493 3424)