• Sarah

Soft opening of St Martin's House - a new restaurant in London's Covent Garden

With the start of Jinyx Monsoon and Major Scales' show not being until 9.30 p.m. it made a lovely change not to be rushing from work, quickly downing a pre-theatre menu and legging it to to the theatre risking indigestion. Instead, we had the luxury of being able to enjoy something altogether more relaxed. We still wanted to be fairly close to the Leicester Square Theatre where the show was on, and the soft launch offer of 50% off food if you ordered 2 courses from the à la carte made this new restaurant a tempting option.


Situated on the site of what had been Marcus Wearing's restaurant Treadwells; opposite Stringfellows and the Covent Garden branch of Dishoom, it could be easy to overlook this new modern English restaurant. We were warmly greeted in a manner which would continue throughout the evening; we could tell that all the staff wanted us to have the best possible experience at all times.

St Martin's House downstairs bar and dining area - grey velvet bar stools and pink flower bedecked  gallery area
St Martin's House downstairs bar and dining area

The soft opening did show a little; we were told by the hostess that cocktails would be £5 (an absolute bargain in central London), but having sat us at a table on the ground floor by the window, our charming waitress said that we could only have the cocktails if we sat at a dinner table. I re-iterated that I had actually booked a table, and we really didn't care where we sat and then the problem seemed to go away. Bizarre policy though. Our waitress wasn't overly familiar with the menu, and had to keep looking at it to see what we were ordering; and that's why it's wise to have a soft launch.

Cocktails:  Cherry Amaretto Sour  and Violet Yuzu Margarita
Cocktails: Cherry Amaretto Sour and Violet Yuzu Margarita

The afore mentioned cocktails were very good though, and worth the short wait. They arrived pretty much at the same time as our starters. I often find cocktails overly sweet, but my Violet Yuzu Margarita and my companion's Cherry Amaretto Sour were both perfectly balanced.

Cornish scallop crudo with slices of orange and chopped pistachio nuts
Cornish scallop crudo

My citrusy margarita went well with my starter of Cornish scallop Crudo which came with an avocado vinaigrette, pistachios, passion fruit gelee. This was fresh and delicious.


Pretty green pea risotto topped with pea shoots served in a terracotta bowl
Pretty pea risotto topped with pea shoots

My companion had opted for the very pretty green pea risotto to start, and said that it was English spring/summer on a plate.


Pan fried sea bass resting on a potato cake served on a terracotta coloured plate
Pan fried sea bass resting on a potato cake

My main was a pan roasted sea bass which came with chorizo and crushed potato cake, charred tender stem broccoli, red pepper and chorizo purée, pea and lemon oil. This was one of those dishes where I can kid myself that I've gone for the healthy option whilst ignoring that the pan frying probably had a lot of butter going on!

The 48 hour braised short-rib served on the bone resting on mashed potato
The 48 hour braised short-rib served on the bone

My companion decided that something a bit heartier was required and chose the slow braised in bone marrow short rib. This looked like an amazing dish, and the meat just fell away from the bone. She'd ordered a side dish of fried onion rings (not part of the 50% off offer), but couldn't eat them as they were too greasy. These were sent back uneaten, but not removed from the bill.


I think that this will be worth another visit once the soft launch is over, and the few small hiccups get ironed out. The staff certainly were charming and tried very hard. I wish this restaurant every success in this tough environment.


Website


Address

4a Upper St Martin’s Lane,

Covent Garden, London,

WC2H 9NY


Phone

020 7836 7591