Ever so slightly hidden away in St James’s Place, down its own little cul-de-sac, you’ll find a period hotel serving up a Sunday roast that is not to be missed. Inside the Stafford London, The Game Bird delights diners with elegance, warmth, attentiveness, and downright delicious food and drink. It’s the perfect spot for special dinners celebrating important events, or simply for a wonderful night of food.
Throughout the week The Game Bird serves a a menu of creative, yet recognisable, dishes, making the most of British ingredients. Under the watchful eye of Michelin-starred chef, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, dishes are seasonal and and at times surprising, as they celebrate British artisan producers. Their all-day dining menu includes, for example, an array of smoked and cured fish, as well as oysters and caviar. British classics are given a sprucing, with the Chicken Kyiv making use of a truffle butter, and Lobster and Chips standing in for the classic chippy dish. A variety of seafoods, game, meat, and vegetarian dishes are also complemented by a selection of sides that threaten to overshadow the mains. You’ll definitely need to order at least two portions of the Triple-Cooked Chips, for example, lest you face the wrath of the table.
The Game Bird also offers up an afternoon tea with an impressive selection of sparkling wines and champagnes. The food takes you on a journey through the streets of St James’s, offering up savoury and sweet treats alike that make use of ingredients from the many establishments dotted around the area. And their selection of teas rivals their champagne selection, which is no mean feat! But perhaps the pride of The Game Bird’s dining room has to be their Sunday Lunch.
The Sunday Lunch
Call it what you will, a Sunday Lunch as The Game Bird does, or a Sunday roast as many other do – either way, it’s a plethora of delicious food and drink that can only reasonably be followed by a nap. And The Game Bird has dialled in all aspects of their Sunday Lunch for a nigh-on-faultless lazy Sunday experience. Wanting to try as much as we could, my companion and I obviously opted for the three course Sunday Lunch menu.
Beef tartare and smoked salmon to start showed the deft skill of all of the staff at The Game Bird, with the smoked salmon carved tableside into translucent slices. The roast beef with all the trimmings (also carved tableside) came beautifully pink with intensely crispy roast potatoes that I had to wrestle my companion for a bite of. Meanwhile, a Crispy Potato Cake, ordered at the enthusiastic recommendation of our server, stood out from typical Sunday Roast veggie options as being an actually well-thought-out dish. Perhaps a touch dainty when measured up to a full Roast beef portion, it was nonetheless delicious and satisfying. The puddings, Sticky Toffee Pudding Mousse and Peanut Butter Parfait, were rich, decadent, and intense. Perfectly portioned, we wouldn’t have been able to cram much more into our mouths.
And the drinks, of course
Signature cocktails settled us in for the afternoon with the Lady Bird‘s blend of Plymouth Gin, Grand Marnier, strawberry sherbet, citrus, and Champagne converting even my gin-averse companion. Having ordered our food, the wine sommelier appeared as if from out of nowhere and asked if we needed a hand with the wine. Three pairs of eyes settled upon the encyclopaedic compendium that lay on the table in front of me before I, as always, deferred to the expert.
We expected a bottle recommendation, or a general selection of wines to choose from. Oh, no, how silly of us. We were instead treated to a wine pairing that showed a deft understanding of every ingredient in each dish, and the restaurant’s exhaustive wine selection. A minerally, salt-forward, white sang against the smoked salmon, and a full-bodied red added fruit and depth to the roast beef. A lighter red dared not fight against the beef tartare, and a dry white cut through the crispy potato cake with a snap. My companion and I kept going back and forth with each other’s wines and dishes, marvelling at the revelations the pairings brought out.
How to finish it all off? Well, by ordering from their The Art Of The Negroni menu, of course. A Negroni Cardamaro was the only logical way of finishing the whole meal. The gin sang through, with the Cardamaro’s juniper notes helping it along through the bitter-sweet notes from the rest of the ingredients. It’s a Negroni, if you know, you know. And if you don’t finish a massive meal with one, is it even a Sunday?
Service at The Game Bird
I cannot express, or shout from the rooftops enough, how incredible the service is at The Game Bird. This isn’t one of those fancy-schmancy places where you have to worry about whether you’re talking too loud or using the wrong fork. It’s certainly a classy establishment, but in the true sense of the word: like an old-world gentleman. There’s a sincerity imbued in every bit of service that you receive as a guest, that extends to an atmosphere of genuine welcome. It feels, on your first visit even, like you’ve been visiting for years and the staff are all old friends.
There’s something to be said for unconditional service. That no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you’re coming from, you receive the same service as anyone else. Following on from a less-than-stellar night at an unrelated bar attached to an unrelated Michelin starred restaurant, the impeccable service at The Game Bird was a breath of fresh air, available to anyone who walked into their dining room.
Now, The Game Bird is not a cheap restaurant. But nor is it a blow-out extravaganza of a meal running into the many-hundreds of pounds in cost. The Sunday Roast will run you £45 for two course, or £50 for three – akin to a somewhat affordable luxury. And, to be fair, you’re obviously getting three course right? Portion sizes are tremendous as well, so there’s no fear of shelling out for tiny plates of two bites worth of food. Indeed, you may well find it more difficult than usual to rise from the plush chairs at the end of the meal. A sign of a Sunday well spent in my book!