The Game Bird review: The Stafford Hotel's revived restaurant gets the balance right between relaxation and refinement

 
Melissa York
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Roast pigeon with parsnips and cabbage

The Game Bird
16-18 St James Place, SW1A

WHAT?

Informal luxury is the name of the game (bird) at this recently revived restaurant inside The Stafford hotel. Stars and stripes join the Union Jack outside the building and its award-winning American Bar is packed out most nights, but the fare is boldy British. The game changes seasonally, as will the set menu, I’m told.

WHERE?

The Stafford Hotel is on the edge of Green Park and Piccadilly, through a passage so tiny you’ll not only walk past it on the way in, you’ll have trouble fitting through it on the way out. Once you’ve found it though, you’ll be transported to a time that embraced floral cushions, antique grandfather clocks and velvet sofas.

WHO?

Originally from Chester, executive chef James Durrant had over 20 years’ worth of Michelin-starred experience – working for Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton – before opening his own restaurant, The Plough Inn, in Hampshire, which earned a Bib Gourmand. He’s moved to London to head up The Game Bird, but thankfully his Northern portion-sizing remains.


The dining room and bar at The Game Bird

FOR STARTERS?

If you’re gunning for game from the off, there’s a deer tartare starter with a kicking Worcester sauce. But if you’re playing the long game, you’ll want to call over the fish trolley, where a waiter will theatrically prepare H Forman & Son smoked salmon, Lincolnshire smoked eel or chalk stream trout with your choice of garnish.

MAIN EVENT?

Roast pigeon is the first bird up for the restaurant’s self-titled dish. Served with ‘bullshot’ – a beefy consommé that arrives in a whisky flask – it’s a sweet, sickly dish that’s lifted by tender braised legs and an aromatic glass of Brunello di Montalcino. There’s a showstopping pot of lamb lobscouse, too, that’s served piping hot with a dribbling of seaweed butter. Make sure you dig to the bottom to get at the juicy braised cuts.


The lamb lobscouse, served with red cabbage and seaweed butter

TO FINISH?

Tarte tartin for two if you’re up to it, but the lemon meringue parfait with a punchy basil sorbet if you’re in need of zinging refreshment.

THE VERDICT...

A relaxed atmosphere, top class service and a hearty meal awaits at The Game Bird. Perfect for long lunches designed to impress clients from overseas, in particular.

ONE MORE THING...

Make friends with master sommelier Gino Nardella, then ask him to show you the 350-year-old wine cellars packed with fascinating WWII memorabilia. To book call 020 7518 1234 or email reservations@thegamebird.com

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