Having not been to Inn the Park, part of the Peyton & Bryne group of restaurants for quite some time, I was inspired to go when I read that it had had a refurbishment and that there was a new menu. Even better was the promise of warmer summery weather in London, so a meal on their terraces would be so enjoyable. With a little persuasion to my friend to join me and a quick reservation, Sunday lunch at Inn the Park was arranged.
The weather was great! Sunny but cool, however the crowds in St James’s Park were rather large. We had arrived early in hopes for a stroll before lunch, but everywhere we turned, masses of people both general tourists to groups of children on a school trip were found. Every time we stopped to take a photograph, a few people would stop and copy us. The most amusing thing that happened was the work men setting up the barriers for the crowds… my friend and I laughed, as it was the first time we had been complimented on in five different languages as we strolled by – at least we weren’t wolf whistled at, and luckily I had my sun-glasses on otherwise a very flushed face would have not been disguised.
We gave up our intention of a calm stroll in the end, and settled down in the covered terrace at Inn the Park to start our lunch early.
A lovely and very polite waiter was at our attendance – perhaps almost too polite… you will read about this later!
The menu for Sunday looked interesting. As per usual my friend and I decided to choose separate dishes that we both wanted to try and agreed to swap half way through. So for the starters, we ended up choosing their: English asparagus, toasted hazelnuts and soft garlic; and, Devon crab and avocado with crisp ginger bread. The mains, well, we couldn’t quite swap on that one, my friend being a pescatarian. She decided on the Salt baked root vegetables, caramelized fennel, radish and St. Tola (as we were curious what St Tola was), and I chose the typical Traditional Sunday roast beef. The Skinny fries with caramalised chilli was also spotted and ordered by my friend, but I refrained from anything else as at the back of my mind I reminded myself that there was dessert to come!
I think we slightly confused our lovely waiter with our order of drinks. My eyes were drawn to the Sage Bison: Lavender Honey muddled with grapes and sage, shaken with Kings ginger, Zubrowka and lemon. But I was also drawn to the Thyme Lemonade which my friend ended up ordering. Then of course the wine: our curiosity landed on the Primitivo, Fiori, Puglia |Italy 2011 as we were limited to the options where they would serve red wine by the glass (the section on white wine on our menu was missing). Finally we also wanted some water at the table. Perhaps slightly too much differing information all at once!
Still, we settled down to natter and before long our starters arrived. Definitely impressed by the asparagus. Perhaps it is because the freshness was evident, but also perhaps for once there wasn’t hollandaise sauce in evidence. Everything about the dish seemed to match – most enjoyable! The Devon crab on the other hand took us a while to figure out. Our perception of avocado in a dish… in this case, we asked ourselves, where was the avocado? We had romaine heart lettuce, crisp ginger bread and the crab in “flaked” form. Each had it’s own taste, fairly strong except that the crab was rather lost with the other two vying for attention. I thought the avocado might have been in the sauce with the crab… though that is not confirmed. But stubborn as were are, we tried different combinations to try to figure if we could find that combination that would make the dish. It was rather simple in the end, the crab, it had to be pieces of crab rather than flaked. That made all the difference.
Remember I mentioned previously about the very polite waiter? Well as we finished our starters, continued to natter while we waited for our dishes to be cleared, our lovely waiter made his appearance, very politely excused himself for interrupting our conversation (perhaps we were very animated and totally into our conversation?), and then asked permission to clear our dishes. When he finally cleared all the dishes away, he then politely asked if he should informed the chef to continue to start preparing our main dishes. There was a momentary silence as we looked at him in amazement, my friend recovered quickly and regally gave our permission to our lovely waiter!
So that set the “formality” between ourselves and our waiter.
Our mains arrived speedily: they were good but not exceptional. Perhaps I’ve been jaded since my Sunday roast experience at the Hawksmoor. St Tola, as we found out, is a blue cheese which was very much like a cross between gorgonzola in looks and roquefort in taste.
Dessert time! Why I made room for dessert? As I had spotted Eton Mess on the menu! And it definitely didn’t disappoint!
Peppermint tea was definitely on order to help with the digesting of our lunch. And as we strolled off after, trying to leave the crowds behind, little did we know that the exceptional amount of people was partly due to the Bupa London 10k run that occurred on The Mall!
Inn the Park
St James’s Park
T: 020 74519999
Breakfast: 8am (9am on Weekends)to 11am
Lunch: 12 to 4pm