Sophisticated British Classics at The Stafford Hotel
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : British
Address : The Stafford London, 16-18 St James's Place , St. James, London, SW1A 1NJ, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.thestaffordlondon.com/the-game-bird/
Opening Times : Mon-Fri: 7am-10pm, Sat-Sun: 7.30am-10pm
Closest Tube : Green Park
Walking into St James's always feels like taking a step back in time. Its history, the rabbit-like warrens of genteel buildings, its resolutely stiff upper lip all offer a glimpse into what Merrie England used to be. Walking past Winston Churchill's former residence to gain entrance to the Stafford Hotel compounds this experience. After a quick pitstop in the always charming American Bar, we descended on The Game Bird, the new restaurant at The Stafford that manages the feat of being staunchly British while martialling contemporary techniques and flavours.
The room adjoins the lobby reception and is not far from the 380-year-old wine cellars. It's an exceptionally comfortable setting, with a beautiful art deco bar on its far side complete with bankers lights and an eminently classy crystal glass display. Just to its right you'll find the smoking case where game and fish is showcased in high style. White marble tables are circumscribed by floral print leather armchairs and plush teal velvet banquettes. We felt extraordinarily comfortable from the moment we took our seats.
The bar staff demonstrate the same alacrity in the Game Bird as the American Bar, however oenophiles will find a real gem in Master Sommelier Gino Nardella, who has been plying the trade for 35 years and has an encyclopedic knowledge of wines, as well as access to one of London's best cellars. The newest addition to The Stafford lineup is James Durrant, chef par excellence who cut his teeth working with Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road and Claridge's as well as Jason Atherton at Maze. He brings the same precision of the aforementioned chefs to his work in The Game Bird's kitchens, reimagining British staples in a manner that will tantalise the most exacting palate.
First off, for anyone with a predilection for smoked and cured fish, the trolley is a must. Wheeled over the table by one of the waiters, it boasts H Forman & Son London cure salmon, Balvenie oak smoked salmon, beetroot cure salmon, trout gravadlax and smoked eel as well as accoutrements including horseradish crème fraiche, Clarence court egg, cucumber and dill pickle, mustard dressing and soda bread. Paired with a Kanu chenin blanc from the Stellenbosch, it was likely one of the best smoked salmon experiences we've ever had.
Fallow deer tartare was exceptionally pretty, dressed with sorrel, crisped shards of onion and studded with egg emulsion, Worcester sauce and charcoal mayonnaise. For a main we opted for the chicken kiev, impregnated with truffle butter and served with pomme puree. To ensure that nobody's shirtfront is soiled by the butter, guests are offered a classy leather bib. The eponymous dish - the game bird - is roast pigeon served with cabbage, parsnips, braised leg and 'bull shot'. It's rather excellent.
We finished off the meal with the paragon version of a Lyle's golden syrup sponge, as well as a pistachio soufflé that looks poised to steal the crown of the recently departed Koffman's at The Berkeley. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal - one that we won't forget soon.