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Friendly staff and a creative Mediterranean menu make this casual neighbourbood joint immediately appealing, but there’s another string to its bow. Blandford Comptoir is the new venture from Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset (ex-Texture and 28°-50°) and – as you’d hope – its wine list is an oenophile’s delight. Marble-topped tables and a smart counter (reserved for walk-ins) give a classic feel to the small dining room that’s bang up-to-date with its petrol-blues and pristine tiling. The menu by chef Ben Mellor (also ex-28°-50°) focuses on prime ingredients, with most dishes available in starter or main-course sizes. We began with thin slivers of raw lamb in a fresh Amalfi lemon and mint dressing, punctuated by intense bursts of caper. A heartier dish of tender grilled octopus and potatoes epitomised the Med on a plate, bolstered by rich olives and tomatoes tasting of sunny climes. Closer to home, plump scallops with a light pea velouté and sweet beans reminded us of an English summer garden. We can also recommend the quail, which comes in a rich jus balanced by the lighter texture of a truffle and chicken boudin – the perfect match for a surprisingly silky Côtes du Rhône from Rousset’s list. And what a list! Over 50 Champagnes, 20 interesting by-the-glass choices and knock-out older bottles (including fabulous Madeiras) will see wine-lovers flocking here; monthly tastings are run, allowing regulars to help pick new wines. Marylebone’s bon viveurs have a new reason to celebrate.
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