What can you tell us about Scully?
It's the first restaurant by Ramael Scully, the former head chef of NOPI (Ottolenghi's restaurant).
And what kind of food is he serving up?
Something of a mix, as a lot of it is based on his heritage. As his mother is of Chinese and Indian descent and his father’s Irish and Balinese, there's plenty to draw on. So influences are wide - but it really holds together.
Where is it?
He's the latest to join the group of eclectic (in a good way) restaurants at St James's Market - where Anzu, Duck & Waffle Local, Ikoyi and others are already in place. It's about a five-minute walk from Picadilly Circus station.
Where should we meet for a drink first?
To be honest, we're always a little bit stuck in this area (St James's Market could really have done with a bar among the restaurants to drive some extra traffic). We often head up to the private club above Picturehouse Central (the membership is actually very good value) but you can pop also in for a drink at Aquavit next door.
And where should we sit?
It's a smallish restaurant - but if you're heading to one of the more traditional tables, there are a few by the window that looked good - although we also liked the large table in the middle of the restaurant that would be better for big groups.
But for us - it's absolutely the counter. There are six (very comfortable) seats here and we think they're the best in the house, where you can watch and talk to the chefs. That's something that really helps if you're confronted with previously un-encountered ingredients, which may be the case here.
So - once we're settled, what should we order?
First off, you'll be given a bowl of warm chickpeas before the main meal starts - a great way to get you settled in.
As for the menu itself, it's a combination of snacks, smaller and larger plates. So our usual advice about ordering small plates applies - order small batches as you go along to make sure the food arrives in a way that works for you. This works for us - and it worked here too.
That said, you'll want to roam all over the menu. It reads very well - full of delights you'll want to order. For example, we didn't order the "Octopus, salt-baked avocado, black garlic" but that sounds wonderful - another time.
We can strongly recommend starting one of the snacks - the beef tendons are puffed-up delights which pair well with an outstandingly good oyster mayo (£5.50).
Another must-have is the arepa that's served with an eggplant sambal which in turn has bergamot labneh piped over it from a whipped cream dispenser. Both of the above are perfect sharing dishes. Elsewhere on the menu, we'd recommend:
- Crispy baby artichoke, black shallot aioli - another perfect dipping dish (£8.50) - crunchy artichokes and damned fine aioli
- Early season tomato and coconut salad, green strawberries, tomato shrub (£9) - we're suckers for a great tomato dish - and this is as fresh as they come.
- Halibut, wild garlic, Vadouvan (£22) - cooked and served on the bone
The benefit of sitting at the counter is really showcased as you get a real insight behind the creation of the dishes - much of what you'll be eating is inspired by Scully's upbringing and you'll hear about all the bottling, pickling etc that's gone on between deciding to open the restaurant and the opening date.
And space for dessert?
Even though we ate a meal that was very carb light for us - we were happily full by dessert. But, of course, that didn't stop us! The pirua porcelana chocolate sorbet with pistachio and tonka was excellent (£6.50 and gluten free too) but the winner is definitely the matcha ice cream sandwich with miso and yuzu (£7.50). It may not be something you can pick up and eat (believe us - it will go everywhere) but it was a perfect mix of biscuit and a matcha ice cream that was just the right level of sweetness (which can be hit and miss with matcha ice cream).
How about drinks?
We'd certainly recommend a brief stop at the aperitif section - the Tommy Got Smoked (mezcal, rosemary, agave, lemon, lime - £14) was excellent. As for wines, they start around the £26/£28 a bottle, heading up to £115 max on a varied list.
There have been high expectations about the arrival of Ramael Scully with his own place. And we'd say that he's definitely delivered. A buzzy environment with a great counter spot, unique, interesting dishes (that most importantly taste great) this is another restaurant that makes St James's Market a real dining destination.
Hot Dinners were invited to Scully. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
More about Scully
Where is it? 4 St James's Market, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4QU
How to book: Book online at www.scullyrestaurant.com/
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