Park up Inn the Park, St James’s Park

15 Jul 2016

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. A surprise in the form of Inn the Park, a delightful wooden hut designed to feed the grumbling tummies of those who stumble across it.

Every so often, an escape from the hustle and bustle of London without having to leave town is a welcomed treat and the right way to spend an occasional afternoon or evening, but more often than not, it’s hard to persuade yourself to get out there and be at one with nature, so the excuse of walking through the park to find your dinner is well, just ideal.

Inn the Park is nestled inside St James’ Park, described as a ‘natural oasis’, the wooden frame sits comfortably against its leafy backdrop. Walking past the ponds of ducks, the trees of birds and couples taking romantic strolls hand in hand, it’s hard not to arrive at this restaurant-cafe in a good mood.

The impressive linear wooden design continues inside and with the floor to ceiling windows, it’s hard to know where the greenery stops and the cafe begins. It’s the perfect barrier to watch British Mother Nature at work and protect yourself from her wrath if need be. At the crack of dawn, breakfast can be enjoyed, but being a night owl myself, I just about made it here for the superb lunch.

An aperitif of Mini Sourdough Loaf and Longmans Butter (£3.50) went down, as carbs usually do, very well. Like a duck waddling straight out of the park pond I could have nibbled on this happily all day, but I was quickly distracted by the more nutritionally valuable and culinary complex dish of Suffolk Asparagus (£6) with purple sprouting, egg and hazelnuts. It was the summeriest (sic) of dishes and in complete contrast to the bread that now lay lost but not forgotten on my side plate.

To say for main and dessert I carried on with the same healthy theme would be a lie and I confess to devouring the fish, chips and mushy peas (£14). In my defence the batter was light and crispy, the way it should sit on any fried fish and the rapeseed tartar sauce added just the right amount of tang, mopping it up with the sourdough bread (knew that would come in handy).

I was torn, as ever, between a rock and a hard place when it came to dessert. Handpicked British Strawberries and a generous dollop of clotted cream (£6.50) seemed the perfect option considering I was dining in a British park, however the Pudding Pot with pistachio brittle (£6.50) won me over and if I’m being really honest, had me at ‘hello’. The smooth rich mousse and crunchy nutty topping were just a heavenly combination. Summery Raspberry Mojitos (£9.50) went down dangerously easily and on an unusually warm afternoon their cooling effect was just what I needed and justified, I felt, having another.

Not to mention the stunning view and idealistic setting as a finishing note would be a crime against nature (yes, that was me being a smart-arse). It’s a relaxed place that well and truly welcomes anyone, the food is hearty, fresh and delicious echoing the architecture of Inn the Park and its ethos. Now to walk it all off and slowly, very slowly return back to that city life.

Susan

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