Wednesday 2 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Inn The Park, St James's Park

Inn The Park

 The name is not the wittiest pun and also proved to be confusing to the taxi driver. I was running late and Google Maps' description of a ten-minute walk from Embankment tube was either a massive underestimate or I'd gone the wrong way (based on past experience, probably the latter). I'd been given two free tickets to Beating the Retreat- a military ceremony/performance along the lines of Trooping the Colour, but on a slightly smaller scale. It was taking place on Horseguard's Parade near Buckingham Palace, an area that doesn't actually have that many restaurants unless you go down to Victoria or up towards Trafalgar Square. There were quite strict instructions on the ticket to be in our seats by 8pm - and that doors opened at 7 - so I knew we wouldn't have much time to have dinner after work (bearing in mind it took me nearly an hour to get there from the office, even though it was a mere three miles away.
I had been to Inn the Park once, several years previously, when a company I worked for hired out the upstairs of the restaurant for its summer party. We had a barbecue, so I had never actually eaten in the restaurant but knew the surroundings were beautiful - and that it was only a few minutes away from where we needed to be later.

Inn the Park is near the lake in St James' Park; from our terrace table I could see a pretty fountain across the lake and the London Eye behind the trees. On the lake itself there are ducks, geese and even pelicans (sitting on their own island), and some very friendly - or probably greedy- squirrels posing for photographs with tourists. In short, this is a green oasis in the middle of London; a beautiful park setting that is the perfect place to hang out on a summer's evening.
A lot of other people obviously had the same idea as the restaurant was very busy - I had called ahead to book but only an hour earlier, and I think we must have gotten the last table.
Inn The Park has a cafeteria-style takeaway section, where you can buy sandwiches, drinks and cakes to take away and eat in the park, which seems a great idea if you forgot to bring a picnic. There is also an ice cream stand, which unfortunately decided to close just as we approached - we saw it serving someone literally moments before but when we reached the counter, the woman grumbled "sorry, we're shut".
We had decided to buy an ice cream to eat on the way to Beating the Retreat in lieu of ordering a dessert at our table, as the restaurant was very busy and service therefore relatively slow.

At least my food made up for it, though my boyfriend wasn't so sure. He had the steak, which came with bone marrow, onion puree and hand-cut chips, but at £22 thought it was a bit pricey for an 8oz steak. Given he didn't eat the bone marrow or onion puree he probably didn't get value for money, but he did say that the steak was average and he thought you were paying a lot for the location.

I really enjoyed my monkfish and shrimp burger, which came in a bun with chips, but at £16 I agree that you are paying for the experience and the view. Still, the burger was very good, I had a lovely glass of rose and it was overall a very nice evening.

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