Test Drives

beefAged sirloin of beef, pickled shiso and bone marrow

What can you tell us about Stem?

It's the latest restaurant from Mark Jarvis, the man who's behind both Anglo in Clerkenwell and Neo Bistro (just off Oxford Street). His latest restaurant takes elements from both restaurants. Although in Mayfair, like Neo, it's a little more upmarket in style and the tasting menu sits a little closer to Anglo's. Sam Ashton-Booth, who was previously head chef at Anglo, takes that position at Stem. 

So it's all about the tasting menu?

Not quite - there is an a la carte option - but we'd say that the tasting menu here might give you the best all-round view of the place. Don't think of it as an endless-course menu, more one that lets you try the key dishes of the moment. That's what we had on the night, at £60 for five courses - while mains are in the £20-£25 region.

scallopHand dived raw scallop, celeriac and white chocolate

Where is it?

It's about a couple of minutes walk from Oxford Circus station - take the first right on Regent Street and you'll see the small restaurant on the right. Just around the corner from Vogue House.

Where should we meet for a drink first?

In this location, we think the best is The Wigmore - about five minutes up the road across Oxford Street - it can get crowded but it's one of the best value places to grab a decent drink in the area. Alternatively, head across the road to Carnaby where you have lots of choice (a glass of wine at Antidote is always recommended).

Where should we be sitting?

It's quite a narrow room - and we think the better seats are to the front by the window. The room was looking a bit sparse on our visit, but we're promised more pictures are coming to warm up the decor. And they do need to loosen up and turn up the music just a little.

Downstairs is a different matter. It's essentially mainly the kitchen, but they do have a chef's table in there which is clearly the best seat in the house. If you can round up five friends - that looks like an excellent place for dinner. 

codCornish cod baked in lemon verbena, nasturtium and pear

What stood out on the menu of the evening?

As we mentioned - we went for the five-course menu, but there are a couple of caveats on that. Firstly that you can get a sixth course - priced at £12 - which on our night was Cornish cod, baked in lemon verbena, nasturtium and pear. It was one of the best dishes of the night, and we shared one between us which was plenty. 

One of the other standouts were the aged sirloin of beef, pickled shiso and bone marrow - and you might want to take a glance at the a la carte and order their jersey royals with wild garlic to go with these (they have previous form, with excellent potato dishes from our meal at Neo Bistro).

And dessert was also a winner - essentially their take on strawberries and cream but with a slight tomato flavour overlaid on that. One of those dishes that worked even though you think it shouldn't.

In all, an inventive menu, filled with dishes you couldn't possibly make yourself and balanced well, so that it that doesn't leave you overwhelmed with food by the end. 

And how about the wine?

Wines start at the £25 a bottle price point and there are many options under the £40 price point. We'd suggest putting yourself in the hands of Emma Underwood (ex-Sticky Walnut and Hispi). She recommended an excellent bottle of Grenache Gris from Cathar(tic) Wines, which was natural (which the list is not restricted to) - but alas, we had their last bottle (sorry about that). But we think she'll definitely be able to steer you towards something excellent. 

stawberriesStrawberry, tomato and rosemary

Overall?

Mark Jarvis's successful run of restaurants has been pretty impressive over the past couple of years, and once again this adds something slightly different to the portfolio. Closer to Anglo on the food front, but within a swanky Mayfair setting and - as ever - friendly, welcoming staff (with a great wine list too). We think it'll be another winner. 

Hot Dinners were invited as guests of Stem. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

More about Stem

Where is it? 5 Princes Street, London W1B 2LF

How do I book? Email reservations@stem-byneo.co.uk.

Find out more: Visit their website and follow them on Twitter @stemrestaurant

 

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