My Favourite Restaurant: Too good for business

CLIFF STANFORD first went to La Tante Claire before he founded Demon Internet in 1992 with just pounds 20,000 of start-up capital. "It was a real splash-out," he says. "I wanted to treat some friends to what I considered to be a meal in the best restaurant there was."

A year on from having sold Demon for pounds 66m, his visits to the traditional French restaurant remain occasional.

It gets booked up far too early for him to be able to plan more than a once-a-year visit there from his home in Brussels. "And frankly," he adds, "it's far too expensive and far too nice to take business people to.

"You're so concentrating on the food and its spectacular presentation that you probably wouldn't get any business done."

Not only this, but but he finds the intimate atmosphere is not conducive to confidential business talk. "Some of the customers - and this is what is really special about Tante Claire - will lean over and tell you, `I've just had such-and-such and it was absolutely wonderful'."

Stuffed pigs' trotters remain one of Stanford's enduring memories of dining at the 23-year-old restaurant, which moved from its former home in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, to space in the Berkeley Hotel last year. Though trotters are something given away in many butchers' shop, he says, these particular trotters were "phenomenally good".

The 44-year-old entrepreneur who now concentrates his energies on Redbus Investment, the seed-capital company he founded after selling Demon, says Tante Claire's waiters are particularly helpful, describing the dishes in detail and always encouraging customers to experiment.

The menu he adds, has been different each time he has visited - but it is always spectacular.

As he says: "It's more of an eating experience than a place you go when you're hungry."

La Tante Claire, Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, London SW1 (Telephone 0171-823 2003)

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