Seven Park Place by William Drabble is the Michelin-starred restaurant at this storied leading London hotel, known for its classic and innovative French cooking using the finest British ingredients. 1857 The Bar was recently reimagined by St James’s Hotel and Club to focus very seriously on port and wine – the bar serves the widest selection of ports of any bar in London, in collaboration with the legendary Symington estate, and also serves the oldest wine by the glass of anywhere in the UK – Graham’s 1882 Ne Oublie port that dates back to the arrival of estate founder Andrew Symington in Portugal that year. As 1857 is the date that the St James’s Hotel and Club was founded, the bar pays tribute to the institution’s heritage – a long history of welcoming locals and visitors for an elevated tipple for 165 years.
1857 The Bar is a warm and welcoming Art Deco lounge complete with dark blue marble, soft leather couches and burnished accents. The walls are complete with fascinating pieces from the hotel’s resident Rosenstein collection of 20th-century European artworks, the perfect conversation starter or company while waiting for a guest. Seven Park Place is similarly adorned with captivating artworks but with a lighter, neutral decor with floral feature walls and sumptuous deep velvet seats. The hotel is located on a quiet side street in St James’s, giving it an immediately intimate and clubbable feel, a warmth that is cemented by its gracious and friendly staff.
As well as ports of every variety including rare wines, aged tawnies, single quintas and vintage ports, 1857 also serves an interesting collection of Madeira and a selection of port cocktails. The port negroni replaces the gin part of the cocktail with Graham’s Tawny 10 years old port to create a drink that is sweet, deep and complex in flavour. The queen of the night is a devastatingly delicious combination of Graham’s Tawny 10 years old port, Blandy’s 10 Year Verdelho, Seignette Cognac VS and Crème de Rose, while the port sour mixes Graham’s Blend No.5 white port with egg white and lemon to create a drink that is at once refreshing and creamy.
Whetting the appetite with a glass of port only makes the tasting menu at Seven Park Place more appealing. Drabble has crafted a menu of delicious French-inflected dishes that highlight the beauty of British produce. The Menu Gourmand is served in the evening, a tasting menu of seven exquisite courses with optional wine pairing – a signature pairing of good wines, prestige pairing of exceptional wines, and a once-in-a-lifetime pairing of wines that are truly extraordinary.
The menu changes as the seasons change, but when Brummell visited we started with an indulgent griddled monkfish with morels and champagne sauce, followed by a baked fillet of red mullet with a zingy citrus butter sauce. To follow, seared foie gras with rhubarb and gingerbread beautifully melded sweet, savoury and tart to mouthwatering effect. Roasted cod with spiced cauliflower came next, the robust flavours of the cod matching the fragrant cauliflower, followed by perfectly cooked, umami-rich fillet of beef with salt-baked celeriac and madeira. A pre dessert of passion fruit and mango with coconut sorbet was the perfect palate cleanser before a signature Drabble dessert of chocolate cremeux with blood orange. Come hungry and curious; the menu is a real feast and served with appropriate aplomb by the enthusiastic staff. The respect, passion and admiration they have for the menu really shines through.
Wines are expertly matched and introduced by a sommelier – whether you opt for the signature or once in a lifetime option, you’ll try some wonderful and interesting glasses throughout your meal. On top of the exceptional gastronomy, the little touches really make Seven Park Place stand out – we were too full to finish the exquisite petits fours at the end of the meal, so they were packed into a keepsake tin printed to look like the hotel to take home with us. A meal at Seven Park Place is a real occasion so leave time to enjoy it but if you are finished before the bar closes, it offers the perfect opportunity to pop back in for a port nightcap.
The Menu Gourmand is £105 per person. A signature wine pairing is £85 per person, prestige wine pairing is £150 per person and once in a lifetime pairing is £300.
A truly special place, an evening at the restaurant and bar of the St James’s Hotel and Club promises an exceptional experience in relaxed surroundings.