T&C tests: The Game Bird

Hearty British fare abounds at The Stafford's new restaurant

Tucked away to the side of Green Park in its own mews, The Stafford Hotel is one of St James’s hidden treasures, with a traditional atmosphere, opulent interiors and exuding a sense of English luxury that ensures a steady stream of well-heeled American tourists.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the hotel’s new restaurant, The Game Bird, plays on this sense of heritage, with a menu that showcases the country’s produce with its interpretation of modern British comfort food.  The executive chef James Durrant formerly owned a gourmet pub – The Plough Inn in Hampshire – and was a former winner of The Great British Menu.

The starters were both robustly proportioned – the watercress and apple salad came garnished with generous shards of Berkwell cheese, while the celeriac cooked over coal, although vegetarian, tasted surprisingly rich, thanks to the dark, grape-mustard dressing.

Given that we visited Game Bird on a particularly hot summer’s day, we veered away from the pies, stews and the signature dish of roast pigeon, in favour of fish. The dover sole was as delicate and light as you could wish for, the monkfish tender and accompanied by with garlicky cockles and mussels. And I still regret that I didn’t sample the smoked salmon, having walked passed a trolley displaying several sides of it, all looking utterly irresistible.

I suspect that this restaurant really comes into its own on dark winter evenings, when you crave the warmth of the salt marsh lamb, piled high with spiced red cabbage and seaweed butter, or the creamy richness of their first-rate fish pie.

The biggest surprise of all was the origin of the restaurant’s name – while it conjures up visions of pheasants, partridges and grouse, it’s really a reference to one of the hotel’s famous former residents, an eccentric female spy called Nancy Wake who was, by all accounts, ‘a game bird’.

For more information and to book, click here.

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