“Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones, In fact, he’s remarkably fat. He doesn’t haunt pubs – he has eight or nine clubs, For he’s the St James’s Street Cat!” T.S. Elliot’s catty creation, later immortalised by the Lloyd-Webber musical Cats, will, we’re sure, be donning his white spats for The London Restaurant Festival. The annual event celebrates the range and wealth of the city’s restaurants and St James’s is perfectly placed to shine nearly as much as Bustopher’s “coat of fastidious black”.
This postage stamp of an area, hemmed in by Mayfair to the North and Westminster below, may be small but packs a serious punch when it comes to the restaurant scene. Take Avenue, on St James’s Street, the location is second to none with plate glass windows looking out onto one of the smartest streets in the world, but inside a starter of seared salmon, main of confit duck’s leg and a pudding of New York strawberry cheesecake will set you back a very reasonable £25, including a glass of wine, over the London Restaurant Festival.
Or that doyen of the restaurant world, Quaglino’s, whose sumptuous subterranean surroundings are only beaten by the menu. The London Restaurant Festival set menu will include options like a starter of harissa and agave glazed aubergine, coconut, peanut and pulses followed by a main of thyme roasted chicken, romanesco and smoked garlic emulsion finishing off with a chocolate marquise and salted praline cremeux. The three courses and a cocktail comes in at just £33.
Barbecoa on Piccadilly and Mint Leaf on Suffolk Place are also notable eateries throwing open their doors for London Restaurant Festivities, with set menus at £30 and £29.50 respectively. Gorge on goat’s curd starters, rump steak and Eton mess at Barbecoa or sample a taste of India with some mustard and carom infused salmon tikka followed by a chicken Banjara of boneless chicken thigh cooked with chilli, onion, tomato and crushed spices and a star anise chocolate delice to end. Both menus come with a cocktail.
As well as the established top cats of St James’s there is no shortage of new condenders, with recent openings including Café Murano, Chutney Mary and Milos. The arrival of St James’s Market, newly built and opening out the area West of Haymarket, has brought the likes of Anzu, Aquavit, Veneta, Urban Tea Rooms and Ole & Steen, Duck and Waffle Local and West African specialists Ikoyi.
Either wander the squares and boulevards of St James’s and taste-as-you-go at one of the many eateries offering specially curated London Restaurant Festival menus, or buy a ticket to feast on one of the festival’s Gourmet Odysseys, Restaurant-Hopping Tours and Tasting Menus all of which take in St James’s restaurants.
Bustopher Jones will quite literally be the cat that got the cream come the London Restaurant Festival.
The London Restaurant Festival runs throughout October and they’ve partnered with American Express ® to offer one Londoner the chance to eat out for a year in some of the city’s best restaurants including Pollen Street Social, HIX Soho and Barrafina. In order to win, just take a photo of your Festival Menu and tag @londonrestaurantfestival with #restaurantguru