Restaurant in London
Modern British Fine Dining Restaurant
David Harfield gives a resounding vote of confidence in Caxton Grill, St. James’s Place.
Up until last year, the only steak politics that I had to worry about was whether it really is a faux pas to order white wine with a fillet or is this just a myth that I’ve fallen for like the whole ‘red wine with fish’ sham. Then Donald Trump’s unsettlingly meteoric rise took place and all of a sudden The White House looks to be at risk of being occupied by a man who not only ran a failed steak business but who, according to his long-time butler Anthony Senecal, likes his sirloins burnt to a crisp, “It would rock on the plate, it was so well done.” Taking my seat at Caxton Grill, located in the fabulous St Ermin’s Hotel that’s just a stone’s throw from the heart of Westminster, I thank God that I live in a country whose potential leader isn’t famous for shilling for poor quality slabs of beef; although I wouldn’t put it past our newly elected Foreign Secretary to start flogging Boris Burgers in the near future. Putting the farcical soap opera that British politics has devolved into in recent months on pause, I chuck the remote behind the sofa and focus on the more important aspects of life: 280 grams of USDA corn-fed rib-eye.
But before I tear into this perfectly seared meat, let’s take a walk around the place that we’re calling home for the next few hours. Caxton Grill showcases colourful modern paintings on its walls, softly illuminated by the candle-esque chandeliers in glass cases. Guests recline on soft booths lined by wooden tables; the soundtrack is unafraid to dip a few toes into the pool of avant garde pop, as Julia Stone’s scratchy tones melodically croon through the speakers, adding a gentle bonhomie to a setting that I come to think of as a really, really nice living room.
The charming manager sets down a couple of flutes of Laurent Perrier Brut and my brother and I toast what we suspect is going to be a pretty damned impressive meal. Our suspicions are confirmed when the starters arrive; the Cornish crab is beautiful explosion of texture and flavour, looking as if the ghost of Dada had taken over the pass for this sitting and tasting utterly exquisite. With small globes of crab meat nestled between whisper-thin slices of kohlrabi encasing blackberry-esque bundles of caviar, the earthy yet piscatorial dish is given a subtle zing by the parse scattering of grated lemon zest. Equally notable is the collection of thick strips of rock salmon, garnished with radish wafers and marinated in a horseradish and yuzu gel that delivers a citric intensity to the palate as the soft, meaty fish slides down the throat. Paired with another glass of bubbly, it’s hard to remember when I’ve had a more enjoyable start to a meal.
The mains arrive, accompanied by a couple of glasses of Argentinian Malbec that boasts milk chocolate undertones and a velvety softness that almost makes us forget about the food. Almost. With a 300g corn-fed sirloin on one side of the table and the aforementioned rib-eye on the other, it’s fair to say that we’re putting the restaurant’s eponymous ‘Grill’ to the test. The sirloin is plump and tender and arrives pre-cut (our chefs ensure that ‘medium rare’ actually comes out ‘medium rare’, thank you Donald) and the peppercorn sauce is infused with a smokiness that complements the pink meat to a tee. The rib-eye is thinner and ever so slightly tougher, the fat that marbles around the outside of the cut imbued with all of the seared-in juices that collected on the hot plate; a couple of the crisped fat-cut chips dipped into the small pot of yolk-yellow bearnaise sauce and I’m in carnivorous heaven.
Our friendly waiter seems amused at our request to have a 15-minute fallow period before our next course and when he returns and we ask for the cheese board to share, he smiles, “That’s not dessert!” To appease him (and also because we do actually want it) we add a single globe of mango sorbet to our order, which turns out to be a good choice, so fresh, tangy and palate-cleansing, served on a bed of sweetened crumbs. The cheese board is groaning with different dairy slices; Alex James’s Blue Monday manages to win over my brother, who is not a blue cheese kind of guy, while my favourite is the Kidderton Ash, which, most appropriately hails from our home county of Cheshire. Paired with a delightfully woody glass of Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, S.A., this is the ideal way to see out what has been a truly indulgent and absolutely outstanding way to spend a Friday afternoon.
After we bid the courteous staff goodbye, our Uber ferries us past the nearby Houses of Parliament and I wonder whether Theresa plans on taking her potential opposite number in America anywhere local, should he pop by for a post-victory visit. She could do a lot worse than using Caxton Grill as the setting to educate Donny on the finer points of steak etiquette, although I seriously hope it doesn’t coincide with my return to sample the restaurant’s new menu; I wouldn’t want their tripe anywhere near my plate, no matter how much they overbake it.
David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media
Photographs courtesy of Caxton Grill
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Need to book||Advisable|
|Clientele||Businesspeople, dates, families, meetings, client lunches|
|Restaurant good for||Couples, Families with children, Romance, Bar scene, Doing business|
|Cost per head||High|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
|Dining Options||Lunch, Dinner|
The restaurant offers lots of natural light.
Starters from £10; Mains from £15; Steaks from £33 and Desserts from £7. They also have a children’s menu as well as wine and whisky flights available.
Last updated on 08-08-2016