When I first came to Westminster in the mid 1980s there was a restaurant in Marsham Street called ‘Lockets’. As a lowly researcher, it was always a treat to be taken there. At some point it was sold to Michael Caine and it became Shepherds. It then closed down a couple of years ago after having tested its patrons patience with extortionate prices for average fayre served by invariably rude waiting staff. So when I heard that my old friend Lionel Zetter had bought the lease and was reopening it I did wonder if it was the wisest investment he could make. Apparently 80% of restaurants fail within six months. Anyway, on Tuesday I went for a meal for the first time. I actually felt really guilty for not having been before, but because of the timing of my radio show I can’t really do long lunches any more. Anyway, this week I’ve been doing the breakfast show, so long lunches every day. Way hay!

Shepherd’s always had a reputation for being the politico’s favourite restaurant and it hasn’t changed a bit. On the table to the left of us was a Prime Minister’s former chief of staff. On the right of us was a Tory MP lunching with a top lobbyist (who is also a former Tory MP). Lord Ashcroft was there too. The décor is very understated, which is exactly how it should be. There are no over the top pictures or pieces of memorabilia. The seats are made of green leather and the tables are divided by some tasteful dark wood panelling. The service is excellent with the waiting staff only interrupting you when they need to without constant questions about how much you’re enjoying your meal. They are also very knowledgeable about the menu and quite bantery when it’s appropriate.

The menu itself, on first impressions, isn’t that extensive, with about ten starters and then main courses to choose from. But in a way it’s good that it doesn’t offer too much choice. There is something for everyone and it’s a mix of traditional and modern cooking. We skipped the starter (my excuse is I was lunching a LibDem) and headed straight for the main course, and we both plumped for the Shepherd’s Pie. I have to say, it was fabulous. For dessert I chose the Eton Tidy and my lunch companion went for the Apple Crumble. Again, superb. I don’t drink, but my lunch partner downed two or three glasses of red (well, poor love needed it given the LibDem election performance) and the bill came to just over £70. Now I reckon that’s pretty good value for money. I can’t actually think of anything to complain about. The general manager even spotted I had left my bag in the bar and came over with a cloakroom ticket. Little touches like that mean a lot.

So do try it out. I can virtually guarantee that you’ll love it and return again and again. It’s my new lunchtime hangout. Or at least it would be if I was ever able to do lunches properly again.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in Finchley on Saturday when I’ll be hosting the hustings for some of the declared London mayoral candidates. Should be fun.