Spoil yourself silly in St James's Quaglino's
Where? 16 Bury Street, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AJ (020-7930 6767, www.quaglinos.co.uk)
Mood? With its sweeping staircase, live pianist and bustling, glamorous atmosphere, Quaglino’s feels a little like a cruise-ship diner from a bygone era (think the Titanic, but without the ice). Dress up in your best dress and heels, and enjoy the appreciative stares as you sweep down the marble staircase from the bar to the restaurant.
Who goes? The perfect place to toast that special occasion, Quaglino’s attracts a diverse mix of loved-up couples, happy family groups and city boys spending their bonuses.
To eat? Seafood is one of head chef Craig James’s specialities and you’d be a fool to miss out, although the grill is also extremely popular. We sampled rock oysters (£9 for six) and seared scallops (£11.50) for starters, followed by poached halibut in a saffron and mussel broth (£21) and rib-eye steak (£18.50). It was all fantastic, although special mention must go to the scallops – served with pancetta, tomato and pea shoot salad – which elicited frankly disturbing sighs of rapture from the boyfriend.
And the sweets? Just as delicious. My ever-more-appreciative man declared his vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce the best dessert he’d ever tried. A return visit seems inevitable.
To drink? Despite the amount of fish on the menu, red wine was the overriding popular choice around the room and we followed suit, choosing a fruity 2005 Malbec, which tasted far more expensive than its £17.50 price tag. If you’re there during the late autumn oyster season, however, champagne is a must as Quaglino’s extends its already impressive range of bubbly, making 13 different varieties, many vintage, available by the glass.
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