Aslan Restaurant Offering Eclectic Food, Born Free
De Vere Cavendish St James's Hotel, Jermyn St at Duke St, London SW1Y 6JF

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Aslan, St James's The restaurant's location is ideal for shoppers wishing to take afternoon tea and scones at Fortnum and Mason (something we highly recommend to those husbands "enjoying" London shopping with their wives and wishing to gain brownie points for pampering them). By the way, while in town, don't miss the clock above the F&M entrance, its charming way of chiming in the hours.

The Aslan restaurant is very open and bright while warmly decorated and furnished in dark and light hardwoods.

The surrounding area has Jermyn Street tailors and various other businesses, as well as being close to Regent Street, Bond Street, Oxford Street and Piccadilly. Like most of London, this venue sees less tourist traffic currently than in the past. Of course, business guests are within easy reach of both the West End and the City from this location.

A good selection of breads fresh-cooked on the premises.

Aslan, Scallops Grilled Scallops with Warm Pipperade and Watercress Mustard Coulis were served with a Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough NZ 2001). The scallops were finely cooked, not too dry, and their flavour blended beautifully with the wine, leaving the taste buds floating on a rich fruity cloud.

I took the pleasure, between starters, of chatting to a group of three attractive guests from a local legal practice. This was, "A girly lunch we do regularly." They confirmed that the excellent service and the superb food makes them frequent visitors. One of them, a vegetarian also noted how really good the vegetarian menu is.

While we're on the topic, I should mention that the menu is changed every 2 weeks. It always includes faster cooking dishes to allow for the clientele in this area. In fact, for business luncheon customers, Aslan try to make sure they are accommodated in 45 minutes.

Aslan, St James's My second starter was Crab Spring Rolls with Bean Sprouts Saladette. These were crispy with tons of crab on a superb sauce and crisp fresh bean shoots. Watch out for the hot red chilli peppers which had me sneezing and perspiring - a marvellous touch. This is an excellent dish you must not miss!!

The background music is tastefully selected, of the likes of David Gray. I thought tracks from Geoff Buckley's Grace album would fit in nicely. My dreary day in London was quickly being transformed into a joy, by this bright and friendly restaurant.

The Lobster Medallions, Buttered Spinach and Kim Pap, Crayfish Sauce didn't quite match the best from Boston. But that Louisianan in style crayfish sauce really enhanced what was a beautifully presented dish with a crayfish sitting atop of the buttered spinach.

Even washing the food down with wine and water failed to prevent the flavours from lingering on my palate.

Aslan, St James's By now the sun was out, ready for the dessert - Chocolate Honeycomb Mousse, Light Coconut Sauce and Blackcurrant Coulis. Delicious. The chocolate was heavy, dark and rich and the honeycombed sweet and brittle on a sauce that was tart and tasty. This was made in heaven. By the time I'd finished this dish the plate was clinically clean.

I managed to get out in 2 hours - but it was tough.

The proximity to Fortnum and Mason renders a business trip highly desirable where a husband can bring his wife to stay at the De Vere but take her shopping and for afternoon tea across the road.

Celebrating the Born Free Foundation, Aslan is named after an African Lion rescued from a poor environment in Athens. Restaurant guests can help De Vere support the charity with a 1 optional cover charge.

Aslan has something Britain used to be really good at - Top Quality without reservation.

Aslan Restaurant St James's, London

Wally Robertson, September 2003

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Nearest Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus

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