Review: 1857 The Bar and Seven Park Place

Review: 1857 The Bar and Seven Park Place

Review: 1857 The Bar and Seven Park Place

A new port bar and fine dining from William Drabble at the St. James’s Hotel

Tucked away in a quiet street in Mayfair is the St. James’s Hotel & Club. The building is Victorian grand, with red brick and ornate white balconies, and there’s a sense of occasion about it all as you approach.

Inside, you’ll find a new port bar, named 1857, the year the club was founded. It is dimly lit and atmospheric. We tried a port negroni – a very decent strong cocktail with all the hallmarks of a great negroni but with more warmth to it. Also on the list is a port sour and other port-based cocktails such as Queen of the Night. The port menu itself features a wide selection, running from Dow’s 10-year-old Tawny at £11 to a vintage selection including a 1970 Cockburn’s at £75. But if you really want to push the boat out, go for an 1882 Graham’s Ne Oublie at £220 for a small snifter. There’s a Madeira selection too.

It’s a lovely grown-up spot where you could while away an evening and there’s an all-day dining menu of pastas, risotto and burgers. But the big draw food-wise is the newly-renovated Michelin-starred Seven Park Place. The interior has been designed by award-winning Russell Sage Studio and is tastefully done in muted pinks and greens – it’s a sophisticated room in which to appreciate the menu of exec chef William Drabble. Combining French cooking techniques with seasonal British produce, the dishes can either be ordered as a two course menu (£82), three courses (£97) or via the set Menu Gourmand – seven courses for £120. You can also take the decisions out of dinner altogether and opt for a wine pairing (Signature £85, Prestige £150 or Once in a Lifetime £300).

The first dish (after a delicious selection of amuse bouches) was a perfectly seared scallop with salsify and a creamy Champagne veloute. A poached lobster tail, prettily presented with cauliflower and shavings of black truffle, came next.

The following dish divided opinion. My husband loved the oh-so-savoury boudin of Dorset snails but I’m no lover of snails, and despite its clever presentation as a sausage, I remained unconvinced.

John Dory was next to arrive. As you’d expect with a restaurant of this calibre, it was spot on, and the mussels served alongside gave a depth of colour on the plate and added richness. A longer pause before the meat course (incidentally, it is all very well paced and made all the more enjoyable by brilliant staff – ours explaining each dish and each wine in a knowledgeable and entertaining way, without any hint of pomposity that you can sometimes get with fine dining tasting menus) and then came Rhug Estate lamb, offering various cuts from this Welsh organic farm. It was imaginative and delicious. A palate cleanser of Lancashire yoghurt mousse worked well, before finishing with an incredible terrine of caramelised Cox apples.

And here’s the thing – each course – yes, all seven – are matched with an accompanying wine. Each one we tried was a winner, and it was interesting to have more unusual selections such as Couly-Dutheil 100% Chenin from Chinon and the Altano Douro white from the Symington Family Estates – a fresh delicious wine from a family famous for their ports.

You should allocate an entire evening to appreciate the excellent cooking, top-notch ingredients and the refined and relaxed atmosphere  (we had to phone the babysitter to extend… !) Scratch out your diary for the night, and enjoy…


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