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Seven Park Place by William Drabble

St James's Hotel and Club, 7-8 Park Place, LONDON, SW1A 1LS

4 rosettes

Following some unpleasantness at a rival establishment in 1857, Earl Granville and a minister of the Sardinian government, the Marchese d'Azeglio, decided to found their own London club where they would be made welcome. Well, you would, wouldn't you? The St James was the result, and instantly became a magnet not just for the idle rich, but for the more discerning artists of the day. By the turn of the century, Arthur Sullivan and Henry James were among those dropping in regularly. The place was relaunched in 2008 as a club-hotel with a refit that brought Murano chandeliers and cashmere-lined walls to a London about to be plunged into the financial crisis, followed the year after by William Drabble to head up a self-named restaurant. Drabble was for over a decade the incumbent at Aubergine in Chelsea, which he brought back to first-division status following Gordon Ramsay's departure, and as such he represented a stellar acquisition for the St James. The dining room décor, let it be said, isn't what you'd call understated. In fact, it's an argumentative hugger-mugger of geometric patterning in carpets and upholstery, with broad swathes of art-deco-ish foliage advancing up the brown walls. Not for the hung-over. It's perhaps all the more reassuring in the circumstances that Drabble's food is not about jarring sensory assault, but achieves wondrous results from dishes that make a show of themselves where it counts - on the palate. There is exquisite concentration and intensity in the cooking, which is impeccably seasonal in its use of ingredients, and in terms of the kind of weighting that works best, so lighter food in summer, more heartily rustic when the chill sets in. A seam of assured French classicism runs through the menus, which might open with seared foie gras in a dressing of roasted quince and hazelnuts, or a partnership of marinated scallops and Dorset crab with blood-orange mayonnaise. Following up comes an assiette of tenderly eloquent Lune Valley lamb with onions and thyme, or the gentle satisfaction of griddled sea bass on creamed leeks with mushrooms in red wine. If you're in the mood for something a little more peasanty, pig's head slow-cooked in Madeira with root veg should fill the bill. Paxton and Whitfield cheeses make a savoury preamble on the gourmand menu to a dessert such as banana parfait with caramelised milk, or there may be technically perfect raspberry soufflé with chocolate sauce. All menus come with inspired wine-matching options.

Further information

Tel: 020 7316 1600
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Open all year.
Days closed: Sun-Mon

Restaurant information

Cooking type: Modern French
Chef: William Drabble
Number of seats: 34
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Disabled toilets.
Children welcome.
Children's portions.


Restaurant price guide

2 Course lunch from: £25.50
3 Course lunch from: £29.50
2 Course dinner from: £55.00
3 Course dinner from: £61.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.



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Nearest station: Green Park

Local information for SW1A 1LS

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