As we hurtle ever closer towards a change in season, it’s the perfect excuse to make the most of balmy late summer evenings dining outdoors (pretending its not the only option still available for many establishments).
Belgravia’s St. James’s Court is just moments from Buckingham Palace and home to an elegant courtyard, the ideal location to spend an evening during our apparent forthcoming Indian summer. Visiting post-lockdown but while the surrounding streets were by no means back to regular levels of footfall, it was somewhat eerie seeing Victoria so quiet when usually it would be buzzing. Chatting to the manager, he described how usually the hotel and restaurants would be packed with tourists and a post-work office crowd, but post-covid merely a trickle of the usual levels of clientele had stepped through to door.
The menu changes regularly, featuring a host of seasonal dishes, some inspired by the tastes of India in a nod to the hotel’s heritage. I started with a delicious summer salad of radicchio and radish, pear and berries with feta and caramelised pecans and a wholegrain mustard dressing. Strawberries and mustard? It shouldn’t work, yet I was so intrigued I had to give it a go, and was certainly glad to have done so. It was absolutely delicious, a taste of summer, tantalisingly fresh and crunchy and something I’ve since recreated at home. Our other starter of calamari arrived hot and crispy, with a delicate batter and a smoky paprika mayo to accompany it.
The hotel’s signature burger was very tasty (though nothing special) but the Malabar Prawn Curry, with tiger prawns poached in a lightly spiced coconut and tamarind sauce, served with steamed rice and poppadoms, was richly flavoured and very moreish, definitely one I’d return for. Puddings were a freshly flavoured citrus creme brulée and a rather indulgent cheesecake made with the Indian sweet treat Gulab Jamun. Exceedingly sweet, this isn’t one for those trying to curtail their sugar intake, but it was great to end the night on a sugar high.
It’s also worth noting the excellent cocktail menu; with a section dedicated to those inspired by literature, there were several very much worth sampling, regardless of whether or not you’ll be accompany them with dinner.
Considering how central The Courtyard sits, it’s something of an oasis of calm in SW1, with its gently trickling fountain and fairy lit space, it’s almost possible to pretend this is normal life.