What? The Stafford Hotel London, a hidden gem in the heart of St James’s by Green Park, has just relaunched its restaurant, The Game Bird, showcasing some of the finest British classic cooking under the helm of Executive Chef James Durrant.
New? The new restaurant opened on 17th March 2017 in one of London’s finest and quintessentially English luxury hotels.
Where? A stone’s throw from Green Park Tube, hidden in a mews away from the bustling crowds: The Stafford London, 16-18 St James’s Place, St James’s, SW1A 1NJ, www.thestaffordlondon.com
On the Menu? A sumptuous mix of British meat and game, finding the perfect balance between time-honoured classics and thoughtful, progressive cooking making the most of the finest seasonal produce on offer. The exciting and innovative menu screams out with a plethora of the best ingredients our fine isle has to offer, from North to South, East to West, without detracting from the quality of the main ingredients it is showcasing. We defy you to make the choice between starters of smoked Norfolk black chicken, Rhug Estate fallow deer tartare, Orkney sea scallops and Lincolnshire smoked eel. Mains include the classic ‘Game Bird’, Dingley Dell pork belly and Salt Marsh lamb…and we haven’t even got on to the fish course; lobster, Dover Sole and Cornish cod. Why aren’t there more people doing this in London?
First Impressions? We are still kicking ourselves that we haven’t found The Stafford earlier but with the launch of The Game Bird we have the perfect excuse to keep going back. Tucked away (we walked through the park to access it through the back entrance), we immediately felt a million miles from the hustle and bustle of London in the understated, elegant and luxurious surroundings the restaurant and hotel had to offer. The American Bar provided the perfect place to grab a pre-dinner drink with its ceilings and walls covered, and we mean covered, in a fascinating collection of celebrity photographs, artfacts and knick-knacks – then through to the restaurant which was quiet, and relaxed and felt special.
What We Ate: The food is simply great. How can starters of the finest Balvenie whiskey infused smoked salmon with cucumber and dill pickle and the freshest Devon dressed crab not bring a smile to your face? I know what you are thinking – how different is this? But trust me, when they bring out the trolley with an 18-pound side of salmon and carve it in front of you, you will be willing her to calve just one extra slice as much as we were. As for the main, well we shouldn’t really talk about anything else other than ‘The Game Bird’. Hands down the best pigeon I have ever had and quite simply a superb plate of food. Melt in your mouth pigeon, cooked to perfection, was cradled amongst the freshest berries, parsnips and cabbage, and accompanied by a bull shot (a beguiling beef consommé) served in a hip flask. You don’t need to love game to come here as the name might suggest, there is easily enough variety on offer for the more discerning of taste – but if you do, you are in for an absolute treat. Pudding consisted of pear and blackberry trifle and Lyle’s golden syrup sponge with custard – both very deserved after a tough week of work (!) and a fitting tribute to all our childhoods. We already knew James can cook to the highest standards after his classic Great British Menu-winning main and his experience cooking in top restaurants like Claridge’s and Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road. Name dropping is unnecessary though, as at The Game Bird he is already making his own unique mark on the London culinary scene.
What We Drank: Nestled beneath the Stafford are the 380 year old working wine cellars which house up to 8,000 of the finest wines, ably overseen by Master Sommelier Gino Nardella. A truly lovely man who knew exactly how to water us and took the utmost delight in showcasing the cellars to us after dinner. Note – the cellars are a cracking venue to host an evening dinner or have an evening wine tasting – although definitely too tempting for us to be within reaching distance of some of the finest wines London has to offer…
Go With? Anyone who loves their food and you whom you want to impress in a relaxed atmosphere without going over the top.
Final Word? James Durrant has truly found his wings. In fact, such was the excitement of the menu, we spent the first hour deliberating. Great news then that we had an outstanding team to cater for our every needs and keep us watered throughout. The Game Bird is definitely not your average evening out – we will be back!
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Written by: Eleanor Stancliffe