We can all sometimes revert to creatures of habit when trying a new restaurant, unsure of what we will like, and afraid to spend the evening envious of your neighbour’s plate. St James’ Court (A Taj Hotel London) has solved this conundrum by curating a magical tasting experience, making the tough decisions for you, so that you relax and enjoy the best the Taj restaurant group has to offer! Around The World In 80 Tastes is an exploratory journey, following in the footsteps of Jules Verne’s intrepid Phileas Fogg as he circumnavigated Victorian Europe and Asia in 80 days. Each course of the food experience takes place in a different Taj townhouse, showcasing each of the restaurant’s signature dishes and individuality. The building itself is absolutely beautiful, from the red brickwork, to the charming courtyard, complete with cherub-adorned fountain. This outdoor dining space is only moments away from where the journey began for literary hero Phileas Fogg, and so makes it a perfect beginning for our own culinary adventure.

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

As beautiful as the courtyard was, the traditional British Springtime weather dictated that we started our journey in the warmth of the St. James’ Court bar. Reclining in the most regal of purple chairs (the kind where you make an involuntary ‘aah’ noise when sinking into), our trio of amuse-bouches was served with accompanying Laurent-Perrier champagnes; a classic, rosé and 7-year vintage. St James’ Court have managed to create a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, where gentle jazz piano serenades the guests, and everybody seems to speak in soothing, soft whispers. As expected, attention to detail and service were impeccable from the get go, ensuring that any guest feels nothing short of princely. The first of the three pairings, the deconstructed scallop, had a beautiful zesty flavour, thanks to its citrus and herb garnishing, whilst the vintage Champagne was perfectly crisp and mature. However, our favorite match had to be the sweet Rosé bubbles with the white crabmeat wrapped in smoked salmon, mustard mousse and black caviar garnish – simply divine!

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Our thirst suitably quenched, we were guided to our next destination – Bistro, to celebrate multicultural London in much more modern surroundings. With a large glass of the specifically chosen, deliciously buttery Spanish white wine in hand; we embarked on our next course of the evening. A trio of starters, each very different from the last, and a basket of the freshest home made bread to make our hearts sing. We began with a delicate duck liver parfait, continued with a very cute mushroom soup (served in a teacup!), finishing off with a deliciously savory Asian chicken with bell peppers.  A thoroughly cosmopolitan offering, the menu in Bistro certainly reflects the diversity of London living, and provided a fantastic introduction to the food ahead.

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Bistro sesame crusted tuna, pink grapefruit salad and wasabi potato

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Bistro sesame crusted tuna, pink grapefruit salad and wasabi potato

Leaving the peaceful Bistro, and walking a few short steps outside the grand Taj Hotel foyer to the impressive Quilon restaurant, the hustle and bustle of happy diners chatting alongside Goan music injected a new sense of buzz into our evening. Awarded a Michelin star 8 years ago, which has been maintained to this day, Quilon has become a staple in the gourmet Indian restaurant scene. Eager to explore this region of South West India, we happily devoured the selection of poppadum and spicy chutneys laid before us, whilst we waited for the famed Quilon Fish Curry to arrive. Beautifully tender white chunks of Halibut coated in a rich and creamy coconut, chilli and mango ‘gravy’, this Quilon special is subtly indulgent and an absolute must. The accompanying Malabar Parathar equipped us with a dreamy, buttery crisp bread to mop up the remaining sauce.  Our wine pairings, a dry English white and a robust Indian red, were wonderful to try and saved us having to navigate the extensive wine menu. For seafood lovers (and even for those on the fence), Quilon’s Fisherman’s catch is pure unadulterated heaven. Our last Quilon signature dish, it comprised of a bamboo lined platter where meaty pepper shrimp and a succulent crab cake sat alongside lentil fish and a grilled scallop – a line-up worthy of the high praise it regularly receives from critics and guests alike.

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Quilon signature salad

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Quilon signature salad

Feeling unsure of what possibly could top the delights of Quilon, we made our way back outside, savouring the little bursts of cool air in between each sitting, to our final destination – Kona.  Elegant, warm and modern, Kona placed both our feet firmly back on West European ground with its chintzy china tea cup display and homely soft furnishings. Forgetting briefly that the Around The World In 80 Tastes experience comprised of two main courses, our disbelief at the Sussex duo of Lamb arriving to our table very quickly turned into delight as we tasted the succulent, tender and perfectly pink canon of Lamb. The second half of the duo comprised of an indulgently rich lamb ragù, stealing all attention from the modest polenta and aubergine sides. Simple and outstanding, Kona stole our hearts, and the prize for best dish of the evening! The paired wine, a robust and fruity French red was, once again, a perfect accompaniment to the food, and filled up any remaining space we had, or so we thought…

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Kona

Around The World In 80 Tastes | St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel | Kona

To end the evening with a bang, the wonderful Kona staff brought out a dessert platter to shame all others – alluringly adorned with caramelized apples, ice creams, lemon parfait, crème anglaise and chocolate fondant to name but a few. A decadent dessert for a regal evening, filled with surprise, intrigue and a journey around the world without (hardly) leaving our seats, Around The World In 80 Tastes is just that. Having feasted on the best signature dishes and wines on offer, we marveled at how much we had experienced in just one evening, all under the attentive guidance of the Taj Hotel staff and their selections. For an original experience, distinctive cuisine and a royal pampering, the Taj Hotel have created an unconventional literary food experience that can’t help but impress.

www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk/