Strolling through the Royal Parks is one of the pleasures that highlights our fortune of just being Londoners. Vast arrays of horticultural beauty are punctuated by weaving rivers and glistening lakes, and the wildlife to be found in the centre of our glorious city can sometimes make you wonder if you’re really in London at all.
The oldest of London’s eight beautiful Royal Parks is St. James’s Park. Steeped in history and at the heart of ceremonial London, this park provides the setting for spectacular pageants including the annual Trooping the Colour, and is surrounded by some of the country’s most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St James’s Palace and Westminster.
But there’s another side to St James’s Park; it’s a tranquil green space in the centre of the city and visitors can stroll by the lakeside taking in views of ducks and pelicans jostling for titbits at feeding time.
If you’re more concerned with your next meal though then you’re in the right place for freshly cooked, delicious dishes at exceptionally good prices. Inn The Park, a Peyton and Byrne restaurant right on the lakeside, offers everything from a pit-stop for ice cream to a self-service cafe style service, and a fine dining restaurant to boot.
It may not look much from the outside but the restaurant offers a class of meal that way exceeds expectations. Picking a spot on the terrace on a busy Saturday afternoon, a friend and I sipped a cooling Britz Spritz, a London aperitif of elderflower, with a splash of Nyetimber and soda top, while we perused the menu. Both being vegetarian we were hugely impressed with the imaginative meals on offer – starters of Suffolk asparagus, purple sprouting, egg & hazelnuts (£6.00) and grilled young leeks, artichoke & shaved Berkswell (£4.50) were quickly ordered. But if you like something more meaty there is a veritable array of dishes including charred octopus and jersey royals (£8.00), pulled lamb with broad beans, and smoked haddock with cauliflower, curry and lime (£6.50). For such reasonable prices you might expect more cafe style dishes, but each was served as a generous portion and with such beauty that it felt a shame to tuck in!
And our main courses proved to be equally delightful. My organic spelt risotto with wild garlic, peas, asparagus, and Berkswell cheese (£12.00) was al dente and delicious, bursting with flavour. My companion’s sweet potato and chickpea fritters (£12,50) were fresh and tasty and most importantly without that oily texture often found in such dishes. They were served on a bed of the crunchiest shredded carrots I have ever eaten and accompanied by kidney beans and a Rosary goat’s cheese goo. Other mains include roasted hake with braised chorizo and lentils, and a wild garlic aioli (£17.50) and a 12oz dry aged Dexter sirloin steak on the bone, with béarnaise sauce and hand cut chips (£23.00).
With a view from the terrace taking in some of London’s finest sights, it makes sense to stay at Inn The Park as long as you can. We retired to the terrace for a bottle of recommended rosé from the venue’s ample list, and enjoyed an Eton Mess to cool us down. Juicy strawberries and crunchy meringue, topped with a thick cream, made for the perfect end to a perfect meal.
- Inn The Park is open daily from 8am-9pm except on Sunday when it closes in the evening. To see the full menus or book a table visit www.peytonandbyrne.co.uk/inn-the-park