Inn the Park
If you are on your way to Buckingham Palace, whether it's for an audience with Her Majesty, or to battle the throngs for the changing of the guards, you will likely be in need of fortification. What better place to do it, than right smack in the middle of St. James's Park? Who'd o' thunk this gorgeous garden was once a marshy wasteland and the site of a leper hospital??? Still, in its most recent incarnation, designed by the renowned landscape architect John Nash, it is the centre of iconic London with Westminster, St James's Palace and Buckingham Palace all on its borders.
Inn the Park is a light, airy pavilion on the banks of the St James's Park Lake. It is beautifully designed to blend in with the natural surroundings, the grass roof sloping seamlessly into lawn. Inside, there are a cafeteria and a more formal restaurant, both with indoor and al fresco dining and every seat has a view. Snob that I am, I went for the formal!
Surrounded by English heritage as I was, I felt compelled to swill some gin. There is a great selection of craft spirits on the bill of fare. Dodds gin from Battersea had a slight taste of bitters from its abundance of botanicals, including lime peel. Jensen's gin of Bermondsey was cleaner, less aromatic and with a peppery finish. Both were served with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic. I would have preferred plain tonic over this floral version which has no bite.
Charred octopus and Jersey royals (£6.50) was as tender as I've ever had, with the great taste of char and a powdering of smoky paprika. Wonderful dish. Grilled prawn and avocado cocktail (£6.50) was tasty, if uninspired. In a glass, on a bed of shredded lettuce with Marie Rose sauce. Some people like their classics unadulterated!
Rump of lamb with broad beans, pea puree and salsa verde (£16.50) and 27 day aged beef rump with béarnaise sauce and hand cut chips (£18.50) were both good cuts of meat, tender and served medium rare as ordered. Again, there is not a lot of invention here, but both execution and presentation were faultless. The buttery béarnaise was particularly good.
With our mains we had a glass of Malbec, Santa Julia (£6.50), smooth with plum and light oak and a Rioja reserve ‘Gavanza' (£7.25), full bodied, with good tannin, dark berry and coffee. Both good wines.
For dessert (£6.50 ea.) my companion and I agreed on treacle tart with clotted cream but couldn't decide between chocolate pot with pistachio brittle and lemon thyme and honey roasted plums with vanilla ice cream. Our lovely waitress talked us into the plums.
Always listen to your waitress!!! They were delicious and I shall attempt them myself in my lab kitchen. Alright, my plain old ordinary kitchen. Sweet, tart, aromatic and juicy, this was the dish of the day.
Now, about that audience with the queen!