The restaurant at St James’s Hotel wins the title of London’s smallest Michelin restaurant with just 26 covers. I’ve been before, back in 2013, and loved it. I like that you don’t hear much about the hotel, it’s not some celeb hangout, and it’s hidden down a side street away from the bustle of St James’s.
We start with a Vesper Martini at the bar which is so perfect it rivals nearby Duke’s, which you’ll never get into. The dining room is, as you’d expect, tiny. You won’t be having any private conversations here. It’s plush though; white tablecloths, thick carpets and a very attentive service.
It’s tasting menu or a la carte priced at £71 for 3 courses. We go for the latter. To start, a decent bread offering with two butters, a salty and spicy option, which looks a little phallic but maybe that’s just me! Then a little bowl of an eggy/cheesy/mushroomy concoction which is really comforting.
For starters, the richness of seared foie gras is soothed by sharp rhubarb and a ginger crumb. The foie is soft on the inside with a crunchy exterior – totally indulgent. Hand dived scallops come topped with truffle and with a jerusalem artichoke puree; three ingredients which are born to go together.
It’s only a minor annoyance that the accompanying tomatoes with my rabbit ravioli burst, shooting tomato juice in every direction – it might have been less rustic to have them sliced. But the flavours are gorgeous. There’s even some butter poached langoustine tails for good measure. And the pasta is impressively thin and dainty.
Boudin of wood pigeon is another rich dish made a little lighter by the freshness of turnips. Some of the pigeon, which is gloriously on the rarer side, is stuffed with foie gras. Lovely stuff.
By this point, we’re stuffed, so we share the passion fruit soufflé, which arrives with a never ending jug of hot chocolate sauce. I feel as smug as Gregg Wallace. If you’re a soufflé fiend like myself, this one will hit the right spot.
There’s something about exec chef William Drabble’s food that is so comforting. And the whole experience is so luxurious you feel like you’ve stumbled across a hidden gem. And you really must start with a Vesper Martini at that bar.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant