Where’s the best view in London?
Tourists might argue that it’s the ‘eyeful’ you get from the top of London’s largest wheel; teens can often be found crowding the slopes of Primrose Hill – and, as you might know by now, we’re big fans of watching the sunset from The Shard (preferably over a glass of Champagne).
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, we’re here to tell you that you’re all wrong. The best view in London is a basket of bright pink bao buns speeding towards you on the 9th floor rooftop at the Trafalgar St. James Hotel.
An exaggeration this is not. As well as the hotel itself being a masterclass in modern luxury (with all five stars to prove it), The Rooftop has consistently topped lists for being one of London’s best bars – and with very good reason. The view packs all of London’s best bits into one panoramic punch: The London Eye, Big Ben, The Shard, Trafalgar Square…
We’re here to try the blush brunch – a collaboration between the restaurant at St. James and Maison Mirabeau in which, unsurprisingly, all dishes and drinks come in various rosy shades. Our booking is at 12pm, and by the time we arrive, the terrace is pretty much full. The hum of traffic some 10 floors below is punctuated by popping bottles and rippling techno beats – it’s cool and, on a sunny day, you could even describe it as romantic.
Now, brunch in London is becoming an increasingly lavish affair. Gone are the days when you’d have an avocado toast and an oat milk flat white; these days, you’ll be settling in for at least two courses and double parking the cocktails, too.
St. James’ is no exception. There are three courses on offer here – four if you count the cloud of candyfloss that arrives an hour in – and you could describe the menu as something close to Asian fusion. We tuck straight into round one: a selection of small plates to share. These are by far the highlight. Everything is, of course, pink: bitesize sushi rolls filled with maki and topped with a fuchsia crumb are almost fruity in their freshness; similarly tangy are rose-coloured crackers topped with refreshing tuna ceviche and mango salsa.
Then come the bao, which would only be bitesize to an elephant. Two double-handers arrive on the table in a steaming bamboo basket. They’re coloured a neon pink that transfers to your fingers (and, therefore, everything you touch), and are packed with crispy Karaage-style chicken and a lick of siracha mayo. They’re brilliant but filling; a delicious balance of flavours and textures. On the veggie side of the table (my pal hasn’t touched meat in three years), the pedigree of the mushroom iteration of these mighty buns is confirmed through phrases such as “I’d literally give this a 10/10, it’s so nice” garbled between pink chomps.
We wash it down with a cocktail each – an elderflower-heavy Blossom Spritz for me; a fresh Jasmine Spritz for my sidekick – before round two arrives. A word to the wise: you almost definitely do not need to order more than the starters at this place. The bao and bubbles have left us pretty much stuffed, but I will not be beaten by brunch, so we battle on, still admiring the best view in London.
Mains err much more on the western side of things and the pink theme still rages on. The pancakes we order are rosy and arrive topped with a cloud of scrambled eggs and chives. The burger and chips had the brioche bun dutifully dyed to match the rosé.
We order another glass of fizz and – miraculously for the capital – the sun suddenly bursts through the clouds, triggering the staff (who can’t do enough for you, by the way) to roll back the awning, transforming the terrace into a brilliant suntrap of a bar. In a world first for me, we opt out of dessert and round things off with a cloud of candyfloss instead – although the Yuzu cheesecake a few tables over looks brilliant.
There are worse places to have a food coma, I think, locking eyes with the 53ft statue of Nelson and sipping on another glass of Mirabeau. The tapas are wonderful, the cocktails are creative – and that view? Unbeatable. The best view in London? We aren’t sure but it was a brunch time well spent.
The Blush Brunch is available until 31 August 2021.
To discover more, visit: trafalgarstjames.com
All imagery courtesy of The Trafalgar St. James Hotel
View this post on Instagram