Have you ever been late to a reservation? Probably. But have you ever been late for a reservation because you were sat in the wrong restaurant? 25 minutes late and supporting that Bridget Jones do when she emerges from Cleaver’s convertible, The Rooftop St James were more than understanding when I called ahead to explain the situation (and my stupidity). But the real question here isn’t if you’ve ever found yourself in the same predicament as myself (I really hope you haven’t - it’s rather embarrassing), it’s if their bottomless brunch was worth breaking a sweat and sprinting through Trafalgar Square’s tourist-heavy crowds for
The Rooftop St James is billed as of those must visit rooftops, and like many epic places around the capital - the pictures just don’t do it justice. Seated at table 13 in The Gallery, we were informed by our gilet-wearing host that it was the best seat in the house. Overlooking Trafalgar Square and other skyward landmarks, you have an eagle’s eye view of pretty much everything. Miniature red buses zipped down roads and people marched like ants through wide streets, admiring Nelson's Column, that mermaid fountain we're all guilty of posing beside and The National Portrait Gallery.
Taking inspiration from Italy, starters at St James’ bottomless brunch (£45) are set and come served in a sharing fashion, with a choice of mains and dessert left to your taste buds on the day. As for the drinks? Prosecco is poured in bottomless amounts for 2 hours. Brought as a trinity just after we finished our first glass of bubbly: the asparagus, with herb vinaigrette and lemon crumbs, smoked mackerel with pickled cucumber and toast and tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad were carefully displayed around our marble-swirled table. The asparagus came in a neat huddle of four, full of flavour with a satisfying lift from the zesty crumbs, and the salad was an excellent showcase of amazing things that can be done with simple, fresh ingredients. Green, red and yellow slices of tomato sat underneath creamy chunks of mozzarella and although I can’t comment on the mackerel - I have a strong disliking of it - I heard only positive comments from the opposite side of the table.
For mains we both decided to go our own way. Sarah ordered the beer battered fish and chips with tartare sauce, and I, the flank steak tagliata with salad. The sliced flank steak was propped on a bed of leafy salad, lightly dusted with shavings of parmesan, and a generous portion of golden chips made up 50% of the plate. Cooked medium-rare, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth and eye-catchingly pink. Voted the nation’s favourite takeaway in 2019, the beer-battered cod was hugged in one crisp fold of batter with a pyramid of six thick-cut chips ready for dunking into the homemade tartar sauce. Several flutes later, we dug our spoons into the praline and chocolate mille-feuille and raspberry bakewell tart. Devilishly sweet, they were a sweet ending to our egg-free brunch.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Brunch in London needs no introduction. There’s every kind imaginable, from the bottomless to the downright weird (you can eat pizza and drink endless prosecco in a crypt in Camden) but The Rooftop St James is one with plenty going for it. The service is super, the views are sensational and although it’s not your reliable eggs benedict (sometimes a change of brunch is good for the soul), the dishes were flawless. I sprinted through Trafalgar Square and became a sweaty mess to get here and apologies to all those disgruntled pedestrians, but I’d do it all again for one more look at that marshmallow-pink skyline. The brunch menu has had a makeover since my visit, but it's only another reason to visit because bottomless prosecco has been replaced with bottomless Veuve Clicquot. Chin, f***ing chin.