I’ve heard very little about the St. James Hotel which is tucked away in a beautifully peaceful street behind The Ritz. I’ve heard even less about Seven Park Place by William Drabble which is the Michelin starred restaurant that resides within, so we went along for lunch with an open mind.
We instantly knew we were going to enjoy ourselves when we were greeted by the charming doorman. He was such a character and the perfect conversationalist; we could have stood there talking to him for hours!
The hotel was subtly beautiful but it was the dining room that had the wow factor. It was tiny; in fact the smallest Michelin starred restaurant in London seating just 26. Tables were compact but the comfy chairs made us feel at ease. It was a very pretty space.
A little amuse bouche of tiger prawn with feuille de brick and tomato sauce kicked things off delightfully. Feuille de brick is a type of pastry similar to filo which added a lovely crunchy texture to the sweet soft prawn.
The set lunch available was 3 courses for £29.50 or £51 including matching wines, which was our choice, with just two options for each course.
To start I chose the warm scallop mousse with salad of spring vegetables and lemon butter sauce. The mousse looked like a big ball of mozzarella and had a really light and fluffy consistency. It had a subtle flavour of delicious scallop which complimented the strong lemony butter sauce. It was a very delicate and well balanced starter.
Although my gentleman companion’s starter of Morteau sausage with potato and grain mustard might not win any gastronomic awards, it certainly was very tasty. The rich meaty sausage was the main flavour present and the buttery mashed potato and mustard sauce were very pleasant companions. Simple but enjoyable.
My main course of slow cooked blade of beef with Madeira jus and pommes purée followed suit in terms of simplicity; perhaps I’d expected something slightly more extravagant from a Michelin starred restaurant. That said, it was one of the finest pieces of slow cooked beef I’ve ever eaten. The sauce was so thick and rich it was heavenly and the beef so tender it fell apart when touched. If you’re going to keep it simple then make sure it’s amazing, and this dish was certainly that.
My gentleman companion thoroughly enjoyed his roast cod fillet with white beans purée, seared squid and foie gras vinaigrette. The cod was cooked well and the squid added a slightly chewy texture but the foie gras vinaigrette was slightly lost.
For pudding the praline parfait was yet again a simple dish but what it lacked in intricate presentation it made up for in flavour. Some sugar coated nuts provided texture and the layers of chocolate and praline made every mouthful an indulgent one. If you like chocolate then you’d like this pud.
The winner though was the raspberry soufflé served with hot chocolate sauce. The waiter pierced a star shape in the top of the soufflé and generously poured the sauce inside. What made it even better was that the waiter left the jug which was full to the brim of rich chocolatey unctuousness! I loved every single bit of it.
A special mention has to go to our sommelier who had passion and charisma in abundance. Knowing very little about wine he really taught as a thing or two; and the pairing of a montepulciano with the slow cooked beef was one of the finest red wines I’ve ever guzzled.
Although the food at Seven Park Place was fairly simple and not hugely unlike anything else you can get from any other Michelin star restaurant in London, it was the charming staff and the beautiful dining room that really made it special. We’d go back in a heartbeat!