If you wander down from Piccadilly Circus and make your way a couple of hundred yard south, to the cul de sac housing the St James’s Hotel, you’ll experience a fairly surreal transition from bustling throngs of tourists & shoppers to a quiet oasis of tranquility.
It almost feels like you’re not even in the city anymore.
Head inside the stately building, and your first port of call will be the new bar, 1857, which refers to the year that the hotel was established. It’s probably the best place in London to get a glass of port (or even a port cocktail), thanks to its overwhelmingly huge selection of vintages – the largest in the city – which spans all manner of rare, unusual, and otherwise hard-to-get-hold-of varieties. You can even get a glass, yes a glass, of Graham’s 1882 Ne Oublie, which is almost as old as the hotel itself.
From there, you can head into the restaurant, Seven Park Place, and sink into one of the plush chairs at its nine or so tables. The space is surrounded by richly decorated walls, with a mix of floral patterns and abstract artwork. If it looks a bit like the kind of place that would win a Michelin Star, it’s because that’s exactly what it did (holding it for over a decade), and for good reason. And that reason is William Drabble.
You’ll notice his name on the menus, probably because he has the kind of confidence in his own talent that means he’s happy to be judged afresh with each dish. The tasting menu he serves up here is a parade of British ingredients (mostly sourced from the Lake District) given a frequently creative makeover with French cooking techniques. You’ll get everything from a meaty pan-fried scallop with delicate Champagne & salsify sauce; to a tender featherblade of beef drenched in rich Madeira jus; to a slice of red mullet cooked with perfectly crisp skin (and we mean perfect) cut through with a sharp hit of blood orange.
And for dessert? The showstopper is an apple tart fine sliced so thinly it seems to defy physics, and met with a strangely warming prune & Armagnac ice cream.
Of course, all of this can be paired up with wines too, but here they go beyond the standard pairing (£85), up to a Prestige pairing (£150), and all the way to a ‘Once in a Lifetime Pairing’, which may feel steep at £300…
…but you’re only going to do it once.
NOTE: Seven Park Place is open now. You can find out more, and make a booking at the website right HERE.
St James’s Hotel | 7-8 Park Pl, St. James’s, SW1A 1LS
While you’re in the area… here are the best bars in St James’s