Diana and I had spent a rather lovely morning at the National Portrait Gallery, pretending that we were part of that rascally Bloomsbury Group. Gloomily brooding like Virginia Woolf, albeit sans stones in the pockets. But art does make one hungry, or it makes me hungry, so we headed over to Paul for a light lunch.

Le Restaurant de Paul’s dining room is very 1780s France, with grey and blush pale wallpaper and an air of regal elegance.

Le Restaurant de Paul

We were celebrating Diana’s birthday and whilst she was looking at the menu I sneakily ordered Gougères and Champagne. Gougères are my current oh-I-just-knocked-these-up that I roll out to friends who pop by for drinks on the terrace. Choux pastry is terribly easy to master if one has the nous but just don’t tell anyone how much cheese goes into these. The ones at Paul are utterly delightful and were all gone by the time we had taken our first sip of Champagne.

Le Restaurant de Paul

Lunch thereafter was a jolly Chicken paillard salad and a tremendous Croque monsieur with a spiky green salad. There is a great selection of sandwiches – proper French jambon/ fromage or salami/gherkin baguettes and more robust dishes of Coq au vin too.

We accepted mint tea but declined a dessert because no one becomes a Bloomsbury waif by eating éclairs. But then as we were leaving we clocked the Paris Brest and the Tarte au framboises and we were lost. Merrily we left with delicate boxes in our hands and broad smiles on our faces. The Bloomsburys can keep their waifs.