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St James Restaurant and Bar (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of St James Restaurant and Bar in Crouch End, London

4 Topsfield Parade, Middle Lane, Crouch End, London, N8 8PR
Cuisine: European
Tel: 020 8348 8348 | Email to St James Restaurant and Bar | Transport: Crouch Hill | Write review

St James Restaurant and Bar Review

Recently, I caught myself perusing the property section of a London newspaper (an affliction developed from years of being exposed to Kirsty Allsop and Sarah Beany, among others), and scoffed when reading that Crouch End was described as a little known haven in London, full of chic eateries and charming provincial style shops; somewhere Londoners would love to live and keep it their own little secret. 'What Tosh!' I thought, heartily tossing the paper into the nearest bin. Two days later a note popped up in my inbox, inviting me to dine at St James Restaurant and Bar in Crouch End. 'Right, well, we'll see about that...!'
 
As I hopped off the bus at a central clock tower, I could see the unassuming charm that Crouch End holds. Still, shame about the name. St. James was tucked away on a quiet side road and seemed to fit in with the understated vibe of the area. A marbled bar, blackboards on the walls and plush furnishings leant themselves to a distinctly New York aesthetic. A little dated over there, but brand spanking new for CE, I'm sure. Just the right side of fancy, I thought I'd be able to have a very enjoyable meal here. Upon checking my reservation, I was lead away from the front bar, where the casual diners were enjoying frosty beers and decedent bar snacks, and was bought through into a contrasting luxury dining room. Epically high ceilings, mirrored walls and perfectly set tables were as unexpected as they were welcome. Suddenly I was a million miles away from the remote city charm of Crouch End and could have easily been sat in a top restaurant, more at home with a Mayfair postcode than the questionable NWhatever.
 
After the charm and surprise of my new surroundings wore off, it was time to get down to business. Usually in restaurants one has to crane the neck and wave the upper limbs around like an ADD sign language teacher just to get the attention of the waiting staff (now most places add the tip directly to the bill, they don't even really have to bother, do they?), but my weary limbs were glad to find this was not the case here; 'attentive stealth' would be the best phrase to coin and describe the service at St James. It's as if their crack team of staff had been trained by a shadowy ninja at the Sebastian Flyte school of charm. I was practically able to order my entire meal, without having to raise more than an eyebrow, thus ensuring a dining experience of seamless joy. Aspiring restaurateurs: take note.
 
Gnocchi called out to me from the European style menu, like an Italian Nona declaring 'dinner time!' - a dish that I would class as familiar comfort food, it was given a new lease of life courtesy of a distinctive honey and aubergine dressing. Most importantly, the starter left me without the dreaded food envy. The green eyed belly monster that rears it's head when you realise you've ordered incorrectly and everyone else in the restaurant seems to be dining on a dish far more exciting than your own. But not my beloved gnocchi - it certainly held it's own in the midst of some stiff competition.
 
As more couples entered wide eyed into the stately white dining room (it seemed to be a very popular destination for couples; plush enough to impress, but no so over the top as to offend), I looked down to find the glasses on my table refreshed and main orders arrived. Oven roasted seabass sat atop a selection of juicy vegetables proved to be a thoroughly rewarding choice, with it's crisp fringes providing a satisfying crunch and contrast to a plump and meaty fish. It's worth noting that the delicately sized portions, a fine size to satisfy the hunger of any usual dinner - especially when enjoying three courses - are accompanied by an array of tempting sides and chargrills. Definitely something you'd want to opt for if you relish your savouries and are sticking to a restrained one or two courses, or indeed if you opt for one of St James' plush salads.
 
When it came to perusing the dessert menu, I was taken aback by a surprising and inexplicable oddity described as the 'St James Speciality Toblerone Cheesecake'. There it sat on the menu. In bold. Toblerone cheesecake. Why it was there, I had no idea. It's like one of those things that exist and no-one has a credible explanation for it. Such as bumble bee flight. Or Kerry Katona. So, intrigued, I ordered it. As with the rest of the meal, it was presented in an opulent fashion and was utterly delicious. But still, Toblerone. The mind boggles.
 
So a surprise element to my meal highlighted exactly what St James is all about; the unexpected. That, and turning the usual into luxury. In that view, it's the perfect restaurant for Crouch End; unassuming and charming. Turns out that old London rag was right.
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Customer Reviews for St James Restaurant and Bar

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of St James Restaurant and Bar.

“The prawn starter is succulent, and so is the tomato soup! The waiting staff are so helpful and the bread served for breakfast is out of this world!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Marilyn Allen, Crouch End, London (7 years 4 months 20 days ago)

“It was quite quiet when i visited st James, so me and my friends decided to eat in the more casual part of he bar - great service and relaxing atmosphere meant we spent far longer (and far much more money) than we had intended to! I do intended to go back and dine the restuarant, as i've heard great things!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Patrick, London (8 years 2 months 26 days ago)

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St James Restaurant and Bar Opening Hours

Monday: 10:00am - 11:00pm Friday: 10:00am - 1:00am
Tuesday: 10:00am - 11:00pm Saturday: 10:00am - 1:00am
Wednesday: 10:00am - 11:00pm Sunday: 10:00am - 10:30pm
Thursday: 10:00am - 1:00am    

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