Beth: The word ‘bistro’ covers all manner of sins these days – and if you’re me, it makes you think of Bisto gravy… a few months back, however, I had the pleasure of dinner at a very good one.
In A Word
William’s Bar & Bistro sits tucked away behind the madness of Piccadilly and the overpriced shops of Mayfair. Located in a quiet side street, the restaurant is housed in a lovely building, part of the St James’s Hotel and Club. So, as you might expect, it’s rather posh.
The restaurant itself has a vaguely art deco vibe, predominantly in gold and black, with some seriously cool art on the walls. The vibe is classy but relaxed – with a very eclectic music taste.
The cocktail list at William’s is excellent. We started with a sweet wine and a ‘Pink Jewel of India’, consisting of Bombay gin, cranberry and lemon juice, and elderflower – delicious. The best thing about cocktails at William’s is the frequent re-filling of the olive and crisp bowls.
Following cocktails, we were directed to the world’s shiniest black glass table for dinner. The service is very good at William’s – the staff are polite without being insincere.
The menu itself is a fairly small selection of European dishes. You’d expect it to be good, thanks to the talents of Michelin-starred chef William Drabble (of whom we assume the bar’s named after)– and I am happy to say that it more than lived up to expectations. Jack and I went for a mushroom risotto and smoked salmon respectively.
The risotto is very filling (you can order it as a starter or a main depending on the size of your appetite) and delicious, buttery and rich and perfectly complimented by some delicious but unidentifiable breed of mushrooms. The smoked salmon was delicious, served simply with a wedge of lemon elegantly wrapped up. Simple but effective and a good light starter to pick once you see the size of the mains.
I had the sirloin steak, which was a big slab of meat, nicely cooked, with a delicious peppercorn sauce. The sauce is just the right consistency and slightly sweet in taste – well done William’s, you have successfully differentiated your peppercorn sauce from others. It comes with fries (small and skinny – I do prefer chunky chips but the fries here are very good). I would have liked some salad or something green on the side (if required, you can order it as a side dish) but all in all, delicious.
Jack ordered the wiener schnitzel (after 25 minutes of me giggling at the name). It was enormous, served with lemon and caper oil, and very tasty – there’s a fine line between good schnitzel and a Tesco value-looking breaded chicken thing. Luckily, William’s was delicious and well cooked.
Jack passed on dessert (Ed: legit), but, not one to pass up extra food, I went for the milk chocolate mousse, served with bottled cherries. The mousse was lovely – like somebody had melted down a vat of Galaxy and put loads of other tasty stuff in there. A smooth texture and presented in what looked like a giant transparent coffee cup, this was the highlight of the meal for me.
The staff filled our water glasses throughout and frequently supplied us with delicious bread – I would recommend the olive bread. The atmosphere is relaxed, the service is good and the food is lovely. You can come here for afternoon tea and the bistro also offers a gluten free menu.
A: William’s Bar & Bistro, St James’s Hotel and Club, 7-8 Park Place, St. James’s London, SW1A 1LS
P: +44 20 7316 1600