William’s Bar and Bistro in St James’s: British tapas in a five-star hotel
Set in the heart of Mayfair, St James’s Hotel and Club is one of London’s most iconic boutique luxury hotels. It features one of the capital’s most acclaimed restaurants, Seven Park Place, which boasts a michelin star since 2010. This is a place for excellence and excellence can be intimidating. It’s the fear of spending too much or sitting in an ambience that is too formal. However, chef William Drabble and the rest of the team decided to challenge this feeling and relaunch their bistro with a British tapas menu.
With windows facing the elegant and quiet cul-de-sac of St James’s, it feels good to sit on the leather sofa bench of this small but vibrant room. The menu has nine courses to offer and the most expensive comes at £7.20. While we consider what to order, a lively hotel guest sits alone next to us and tells the manager he’s never heard of British tapas before, and is excited to try them. That is probably the sign that this idea works.
We begin with Prunes Stuffed with Apple Wrapped in Crispy Bacon, Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes and Tartare Sauce and Tunworth and Mushroom Slider with Walnuts and Truffle Dressing. There’s a clear standout dish in this first round, and it’s actually the one that on the paper doesn’t sound as nice as the others. The prunes stuffed with bacon are simply delicious; on the other hand the more common fish cakes are reassuring but the portion is a bit too small compared to the rest.
The Smoked Salmon on Rye Bread with Cream Cheese is a classic; the slices are quite thick and meaty and the cheese on top of them is generous in quantity. However, for those looking for something more intriguing, the hot and filling Haggis Beignets, Potato Velouté, Madeira Jus will be a great pleasure.
The puddings available are those of the standard bistro menu. It’s a selection of six (including the cheese platter) and we try the Milk Chocolate Mousse with Cherries in Kirsch and the Soaked Savarin with Raspberry. It’s clear by the look of them that these aren’t the refined courses someone might expect, but more sugary and filling bar-style desserts.
With its contained prices and varied selection, the British tapas menu at the William’s Bar and Bistro opens the hotel’s doors to a new and more relaxed clientele.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at William’s Bar and Bistro, 7-8 Park Place St James’s SW1A 1LS, call 020 7316 1600 or visit here.