A Royal Engagement- The Stafford Hotel’s American Bar and Game Bird Restaurant

The Stafford Hotel’sAmerican Bar and Game Bird Restaurant are legends standing the test of time. Through the eras they have managed to evolve while maintaining their position of timeless sophistication. The two venues merge the past traditions of a private members’ club during the war with a fresh and lighter take on classic British cuisine. 

Setting the tone for your Royal Engagement-

Strolling through Green park, conveniently located next to Buckingham palace, set’s the tone for the very fitting reveal that awaits you. If you decide to take the tube and embrace all that is London transportation, you can exit directly into Green Park on the Piccadilly Line. Take your right along the park heading towards St. James Palace then a quick left onto a subtle passageway heading towards St. James street.

Something about “Royal Parks” and “carriage rides”- (Tube or Uber)- put “Cinderella you shall go to the ball” in full swing. As you step onto the path, you will notice the road beneath you has changed! Cushion, Astroturf, match made in heaven for the glass slippers you have donned for the evening. As you exit the path, tucked in a quaint cul-de-sac she stands, the exquisite, Stafford Hotel. 

Converted to a hotel in 1912 when the three residences of 16-18 St. James Place were combined to give us the hotel we know and love today.

Top hats and coat tails await you with greetings as you walk in the double doors to the past re-imagined. You really feel like the special guest as you walk in. The term “luxury” is in full attendance in the hotel lobby.

 Cocktail Experience at The American Bar-

The hotel lobby will greet you and then guide you to your destination for the evening. As you pass through the restaurant you will pass little rooms that mirror the “residence” vibe from time long ago. You really get the sense of what living in this Royal home was like before she became the hotel we know and love.

First stop of the evening is at one of the last standing American Bar’sin London. Renowned in London and Paris during the 1920’s-30s, named The American Bar due to it’s United States and Canadian servicemen stationed in London during World War Two. The uniquely “secret club” was established and the layer of mystery and wonder separated her from her rival “American Bar” at The Savoy.

The American Bar- photo credit the Stafford Hotel

The moment has changed, as you enter a dark and vampy time of prohibition and cigars. Secret whispers and bustling conversation seem to feel so different in the “American Bar” as if you aren’t supposed to hear but can’t help but listen. The elusive feel has been mastered.

The recently re-launched bar was designed by Rosandale designs and what a beautiful job of retaining the history of the room. The marble bar paired with mahogany paneling sets the standard for the American Bar’s message- “Here to stay, and I know who I am”– Drinks are prepared in vintage glassware and the emerald green upholstery adds the perfect layer of royalty that is St. James Court.

The History is on the walls- Credit the Stafford Hotel

Take your seat in a back corner table and take notice of the ceiling. Ties that dangle interlaced with hats and artifacts from visitors of the past wanting to leave a mark on their time in this hidden “majestic” place. Signed photographs hang on the wall from the hotels famous patrons, if these walls could talk-what would they say?

A drink menuwith a story to tell follows 12 specifically created cocktails by Benoit Provost. As the Director of the American Bar, his creations are modern but layered with the vintage era they deserve. Cocktail lovers enjoy a journey around the sanctuary of streets and many mysteries locked away of St. James and the Stafford Hotel. 

The White Mouse Cocktail

The story of The White Mouse- Nancy Wake. The allies most decorated servicewomen and Gestapo’s most wanted person, was named the “White Mouse” for her ability to elude capture. Sit back and re-live her bravery and courage tasting a Gin based drink. Champagne and lemon juice with hints of Rosemary and the classic egg white, served up and quite lovely, and empowering. I for one would have loved seeing this female powerhouse roaming the “secret gentlemen club” laying down the law.

 James Bond fans will enjoy the Moonraker. With the gentlemen’s clubs of St. James being a regular stomping ground for the men of MI5 and MI6 it is a fitting addition to the menu. Ian Flemming himself was a frequent visitor and it is said the fiction club Blades, referenced in many of his novels is based off of clubs in the area. Connect to your inner Bond, James Bond, with this Gin based cocktail.

A private cobblestone courtyard offers a Cigar menu for the ages and all pallets. Options like “Romeo Y Juliette Short Churchill” add uniqueness to the menu. Linked to Winston Churchill after his visit to the factory in 1946, solidifying his choice of this robust cigar, quite fitting. Enjoy a drink of your choice paired with a cigar catered to you in this hidden patio surrounded by too many stories to tell.

The Charming and Romantic Hidden patio of the Stafford. Credit the Stafford Hotel

Dinner at The Game Bird Restaurant-

The Game Bird – Credit the Stafford Hotel

The Game Bird is the other side of the coin that shares a vision of the private member’s club in the Stafford Hotel. Laced with classic British decor that effortlessly seduces you to continue your evening. At the helm is Ben Tish as the culinary Director and Executive Chef Jozef Rogulski. Launched in 2017, the Game Bird nabbed quite a few awards including the restaurant of the year at the Hotel Caytes, 2017. A focus on British classic cuisine with a unique and innovative flare, partnered with a relaxed-fine dining experience. 

The Décor of the room can be described as airy and romantic. Colors of pale blue mix with lush décor, plush seating and hidden nooks. Along the wall you will find specially commissioned artwork – famously showcasing Her Royal Highness, the Queen. The art is delivered by some of the countries leading young artists and adds the flare that is The Game Bird Restaurant. 

A mix of the old London and the new creates a historical merging of 5-star service. Surrounded by elements of Her Majesty, one can’t help but sit a little taller and enjoy your glass of bubbly in her honor.

I suggest get the lovely nook next to the newly added champagne bar. Holding the center of attention of the restaurant, she sets the tone for the dinner to come. Decadent. Perfection. Flare. You are in the ideal spot to watch the “ball” unfold around you. Surrounded by pillars and crown molding that will make your inner interior designer start a new Pinterest page, sink in to the plush velvet couch and perk your ears up. This is a dining experience.

The Lovely Nook Near the Champagne bar- Credit the Stafford Hotel

The team at the Stafford is in a class of their own. Knowledge is power and they pride themselves on time well spent learning and growing with the venue and their regulars that frequent. With a staff standing strong and loyal, partners seamlessly with a return clientele of 30 years or more. A local spot that welcomes out side guests. No posh here, all friends and all welcome.

Dinner is Served

Experts at their craft, you will be deliciously guided and mesmerized during your dinner experience. Giorgio Scarsella, Sommelier and Luca Gaeta, Restaurant Manager, are a match made in European restaurant heaven. There is a time and place to take control of the menu and ordering and this is not that place. The awareness and attention to detail on allergies should give comfort to those traveling with “challenges.” Take the suggestions, live a little, explore the menu and enjoy. 

Start the evening with a champagne suggestion. Take in the story of the location and how the weather creates the bubbly perfection rolling around your pallet. Getting the opportunity to go on a travel journey with a passionate sommelier is a unique experience. Unique being you can genuinely get lost in the moment of what he is painting. You get to see a terrain through the eyes of wine. Not all wine is equal and quality radiates out of him with such fun and excitement, you will not be guided wrong.

A trolley approaches the table, yes you read trolley on the menu, but this is quite enticing. Lightly smoked and Cured salmon is carved in front of your eyes and placed precisely for your tasting pleasure. Smoked and cured in house, including a London Cure of H Forman and Son smoked salmon, as well as the Balvenie. Smoked eel and little layers of garnishes like the horseradish crème fraiche, chopped egg, pickles and capers compete for your attention. The consistency is so delicate and the pairings are balanced perfectly. 

Giorgio will walk you through suggested wines as he has been informed on your dinner order.  With a vast wine cellar, his suggestions are most welcomed. The suggestion and winner by a long-shot for the evening was the Chenin Blanc from Lievland.

 A south African wine, with notes of white peach and citrus on the nose, with a rich buttery mouthful. Wonderfully smooth finish that you will not regret having.

When in Rome- or when dining at the Game Bird Restaurant one should try the “named dish” The Game Bird– After all, the glass closed- cases lining the wall of couches are housing the bird in full view. 

 French farmed pigeon with the breast roasted and the legs braised in wine. A plum sauce is made with the juices cooked from the pigeon. Spinach and parsnips are mixed in with cabbage to complete the decadent dish. Comparison in texture would be to a filet but so much more. -Buttery. Flavorful. Unique. 

The other weakness of most humans is “Truffle” – Truffle combined with lobster Macaroni and Cheese is a win win dish and the Game Bird does it so “bloody” well.  Served in a covered cast iron skillet, with plenty to share. A wonderful balance of lobster and creamy cheeses with the perfect flavoring of truffle oil. This dish is hearty, so come prepared to attempt to share.

As your food settles and the euphoria of the evening painted before you settle in, you can’t help but feel like a guest of honor as your Brandy paring suggestion comes to be with your desert.

A salted caramel soufflé with Tonka bean ice cream, a light and fluffy way to end your pallet on a sweet note. Tasting like the midnight hour, you are reminded that this is coming to the end of your dining experience and must not “let the slipper fall.”

The Wine cellar

An adventure to be had, in the wine cellar dreams are made of.

Take a journey down and through the the 17th century gem, rumored to be one of the largest, if not larger, cellar compared to the Queen’s.

Built by Lord Francis Godolphin in the 17th century, the cellar was used as an air raid shelter in World War Two. In addition to holding 8,000 bottles of wine from all over the world, there is a section dedicated to the time of war. You will find posters and memorabilia from the era and can easily get lost in the moments spent down there listening and waiting.

The endless halls of unique wine can be experienced with a wine tasting and wine pairing dinner. Candlelit tours can take the guest through the entire collection. With private dining options for up to 44 guests, the cellar can be quite the dinner destination. 

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Dinner in the Wine Cellar- Credit the Stafford Hotel

The Stafford Hotel demands warmth with sophistication. Taking her guests on a journey through time laced with a passion for British Cuisine, craft cocktails with a story to share and a wine experience around the world. From your first hello to you last goodbye, you can not help but feel that The queen of England, The American Bar and the Game Bird have made you feel like you are her special guest. Take a bow and curtsey, hold on to your glass slipper and disappear into the night, until next time.