Situated a stone’s throw from St James’ Palace, Just St James features a dining room perfectly suited to its grandiose postcode. Ornate chandeliers, old school balconies and an elaborate spiral staircase meet a funky glass lift and contemporary bar area; probably a little too ‘bling’ to be honest. As you’d expect, tables are well spaced, furniture is big and comfortable, and expectations go through the soaring ceiling.
The kitchens pride themselves on using only fresh, seasonal British ingredients and generally allow the ingredients to do the talking. My fois gras parfait with apple & pear chutney & brioche was rich, full of flavour and as it should be – why so many restaurants keep over complicating (and ruining) fois gras is still a mystery to me. Smoked salmon with capers & crème fraîche was again delicious. Our mains included an oven baked grouse with honey parsnips, and a hearty Angus fillet of beef with lentil jus and fois gras butter; both well cooked but lacking the sparkle that the starters promised. My dessert of chocolate custard tart was rich, sweet and bitter although the accompanying caramelised orange tasted almost tinned.
The lavish bar offers decent cocktails and a solid wine list, including a couple of cheeky little numbers from the owners own award-winning Nutbourne Vineyards. Venture down on a Saturday night (which wasn’t particularly busy when we went) and you will also be treated to some very pleasant live jazz music. Visitors can now also enjoy the new all-day dining options including breakfast and various afternoon tea options.
The restaurant has been a constant favourite amongst the residents and affluent workers of Mayfair since its initial opening in 2000 and it’s not difficult to see why; decent food, good wine and friendly staff in an upmarket venue which the regulars are accustomed to. For me though, the dining experience just lacked the ‘wow’ factor – everything was just too predictable and safe for the price.
Food – 3.5/5
Venue – 3/5
Value – 3/5
Cuisine type – modern English
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £75
Wine – £5.50
Cocktails – £7.50
Just St. James
12 St James’s Street