The welcome: Situated in one of the quiet side streets off the clubby roar of St James’s, the St James Hotel has a deserved reputation for superlative service and discretion. William Drabble deservedly holds a star for his fine dining restaurant, but he’s also come up with an innovative range of tapas, which are deceptively filling and could easily constitute a meal on their own, or form a sumptuous starter.
The room: The small but clubby (fittingly, given that the hotel’s full name is the St James Hotel and Club) bar area offers cosiness and intimacy, which lends itself splendidly either to romance or simply to a rather more entertaining business meeting. The friendly but never over-intrusive staff mill about, ever on hand to top up a glass or suggest another dish.
The food: Drabble’s enviable reputation in the industry means that anything he does is regarded with interest; however, those who are expecting the food here to reinvent the wheel are going to be disappointed. What he has done instead is to pick a range of dishes that are associated with English dining, and offer subtle tweaks here and there which make for quite the smorgasbord of tastes and textures.
We loved the more traditional dishes, such as the smoked salmon on rye bread with cream cheese and the apple-stuffed prunes wrapped in crispy bacon, but we were even more impressed by the adventurous spirit in some of the others; lamb breast fritters with apple and mint jelly was delicious, and the Tunworth and mushroom slider with walnut and truffle dressing should, if there’s any justice in the world, become a London signature dish. And all of these are at very affordable prices – nothing more than £7.20, and a Welsh rarebit at a mere £4.25. There’s a good range of English wines and beers paired with it as well, especially a delicious Tenterden white and rosé.
Would we go again? The next time we want a Michelin-star level experience at street food prices, absolutely.
|What||William's Bar and Bistro|
|Where||William's Bar and Bistro, St James Hotel and Club, 7-8 Park Place, London , SW1A 1LS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
18 Aug 16 – 07 Dec 17, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to find out more|