FOR a quintessentially British dining experience, The Game Bird at The Stafford London is the perfect choice, says Charlotte Civil
Launched earlier this year, the charming restaurant, a highlight of the classically elegant hotel located in the heart of historical St James’s is a real treat for diners.
Just off the cosy lounge area reminiscent of a Downton Abbey set with its period features, sash curtains, chandeliers and array of richly upholstered sofas is The Game Bird.
Its vintage duck-egg blue colour scheme and high ceilings with ornate coving and clean lines of marble and glass beautifully set the scene, contemporary artwork by young British artists frames walls and there’s plenty of natural hues including leather and velvet, traditional wood panelling and chairs with touches of eye-catching Victorian style floral upholstery adding a splash of colour.
Executive Chef James Durrant has brought his expertise from an illustrious career working for restaurants including Claridge’s and Maze to create a ‘theatre of senses’ menu that fully appreciates the diversity of local, seasonal British produce. There’s something for every taste from beautifully plump Orkney Sea Scallops Ceviche to succulent British Grass Fed Ribeye. A nod to the chef’s Cheshire upbringing also sees a selection of hearty Pies, Puddings and Stews including Steak and Ale steamed suet pudding.
The staff at The Game Bird are friendly and welcoming. Assistant restaurant manager Sarah Gutknecht talked me through the menu and its numerous choices.
Would I go for Oysters, Grill, Meat & Game, Fish, Pies, Puddings and Stews? “It’s an interesting mix,” she explained, “a nice British menu with every dish offering something new and very traditional.”
For starter Sarah recommended the ‘Salmon Trolley’ a bespoke trolley which is laden with the finest fish, smoked and cured in-house and served at your table.
She carved delicate slices from the Balvenie cured smoked salmon; Chalk Stream trout gravadlax and Lincolnshire smoked eel which were accompanied by soda bread and garnishes including Clarence Court egg, cucumber and dill pickle, mustard dressing and horseradish crème fraiche. A glass of 2015 Chablis was the perfect accompaniment – a crisp white wine with flavours of ripe, tropical fruit and aromas of flowers.
For my main the choice a no brainer: ‘The Game Bird’ – the restaurant’s signature dish of Roast pigeon with parsnips, cabbage and braised pigeon leg served with a ‘bullshot’ poured over the dish from a leather hipflask in honour of the restaurant’s eponymous game bird.
The meat was beautifully tender (pictured) and the addition of the ‘bullshot’ (an intoxicating sauce of beef consommé and port served in Purdey hip flask) ensured all the richness of the flavours came through when poured over the meat. Again a wine was paired with the dish, this time red. The 2014 New Zealand Martinborough Pinot Noir had a smooth, velvety fruity texture.
The Game Bird’s ‘theatre of senses’ menu certainly lived up to its name. Beautifully presented dishes cooked to perfection which tantalised the tastebuds ensuring every mouthful was savoured. But it was the whole dining experience that makes this such a special place. Five-star standards combined with five-star quality and five-star service – a most memorable dining experience.
The Game Bird, The Stafford London,
16-18 St James’ Place, London SW1A 1NJ
www.thegamebird.com / for reservations: 020 7518 1234
PRE-dinner cocktails in the hotel’s American Bar are a must at The Stafford. Reminiscent of a private members club, every wall and surface of this cosy cocktail bar is covered with eye-catching displays of memorabilia from model airplanes hanging from the ceiling to ties, baseball bats and signed celebrity photographs donated by patrons and guests over the years. The story goes that the walls of the bar were once so bare that guests began giving the head barman gifts and decades later this treasure trove of artefacts is the result!
Perusing the cocktail menu I decided on a Signature Cocktail, a tricky choice when you’re faced with the choice of tantalising concoctions. Eventually after much umming and aahing I ordered a Spitfire (Chase marmalade vodka, fresh passion fruit, elderflower cordial, vanilla syrup, Champagne) – refreshing and delicious!