The ever-stylish Salt Yard group has just opened its fifth restaurant, Veneta, in the new St James’s Market development, and it’s a suitably classy affair. Double height, with a seating area upstairs overlooking the main room, it boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, brass rails, and antler-shaped lighting.

I love the marine-blue panes of glass separating the leather booths, and the fish-scale shaped tiles behind the bar – my friend thinks it looks like an elegant cruise liner, and it certainly steers a confident course through its Venetian-inspired, regularly changing menu.

Our Jake Gyllenhaal-alike waiter recommends 2-3 sharing plates each, so we start with some Cornish crab from the Raw Bar [£10.75]. It’s zingingly fresh, served with a spiced mayo (which contains a touch too much cumin for my taste) and presented in an Instagrammable spider-crab shell.

It’s followed by obscenely juicy baked scallops, atop a pumpkin puree with fried lardo and lemon; a divine, rich, long-simmered kid goat ragu with homemade papardelle [£8]; and the star of the show: that day’s special, squid ink orzotto, a nutty, chewy dish of pearl barley with a seaside tang.

Not everything is a hit; a tepid side of Romanesco [£7] lacks flavour, while the anchovy sauce advertised with the chargrilled monkfish [£9.75] doesn’t pack that umami punch (though we both decide that salsify, a bed of which it comes on, is our favourite new root vegetable).

Afterwards, we have a trio of cheeses from the well-stocked board, then a creamy slab of sheep’s cheesecake, poached plums and zabaglione ice cream. The largely Italian wine list starts at £20 per bottle, while the cocktails, mainly involving gin, are inventive and refreshing. Owner Simon Mullins has another hit on his hands.

Food: 7.5/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Value for Money: 7.5/10