Just Oriental Bar

Mimi ON Nov 11, 2009 AT 3:17 pm

Just St James

Just St James

By Alan Greenhalgh

St James The Just obviously keeps an eye on things down Mayfair way and would be very happy to see what’s going on at his namesake’s bar and restaurant at 12 St. James Street, London, SW1A 1ER. Ably managed by Richard Gladwin – our tip as a new high priest of bars – who, with his background in specialty caterers in Manhattan has now joined up with his father, Peter Gladwin the Executive Chef and proprietor of Just St James.  Bank on being impressed by its rather grand, marble-pillared entrance hall with a sweeping-up staircase, glass lift and head down to Just Oriental Bar & Brasserie.

We are amazed by the size of the place; but all the curves, candles and Chinese silk drapes added such an intimacy that we were soon settled in a booth by the bar slipping off our shopping-weary heels, pulling up one of the cushions and sharing secrets and gossip. The most ordered cocktail is Douglas Ankrah’s Porn Star Martini (£ 7) – and our night added to its popularity with our squeals for constant satisfaction.

A glossy passion fruit floats on the vanilla vodka in a 1950s ‘babycham’ glass served with a side shot of champagne. It’s not the Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame served upstairs, but a swig of the bubbles cleanses the palette. As a nod to Salvatore Calabrese across the road at Fifty, Jimmy, the wonderful barman, has created the Breakfast Daiquiri with its wake -up call of citrus and no burned peel. We drank it, but you won’t find it on the menu as it changes every week, but you can ask for any cocktail and Jimmy really knows his stuff.

Just Oriental Bar & Brasserie

Just Oriental Bar & Brasserie

Richard is proud of the great guest beers he’s introduced. Doom Bar, a real place in North Cornwall near Padstow where a mermaid cast a dying curse against the sailors, has given rise to an award-winning Sharp’s Doom Bar Bitter (500ml £ 4.40). It’s lightly roasted, malty and made with natural hop flowers added at the end of the boil. Let’s just say approach with caution or end up run aground.

The sharing platters were hard to choose – they all sounded good, so we plumped for the Dim Sum (£18.50) which plentifully came on dark bowls served on bleached white trays. Crispy Duck and Mango Spring Rolls and the Spinach Samosas were sublime. The Wasabi mayonnaise in the Surf and Turf (£16) was a bit soft on a karate taste-kick and the Shitake mushrooms would be better free of their pastry but we were delighted that everything was so fresh.

Richard reminds us that they are from a great chef in the kitchen upstairs and if we wanted something different then for ‘anything else, Just ask!’ We didn’t make it to the Fairground Attraction (£12) with its candy floss tower, toffee popcorn and mini ice cream cones. We’re sweet enough, we say.

There’s even a chance they are thinking of doing a Peanut Brittle Martini. Although the hedge-funders have been trimmed, we are sure you’ll still find a gentleman’s club billionaire – the suited chaps in the bar kindly left behind a Wealth Management brochure for us to read.

Richard kicks us out gently, late, and we drift into the josticks and fairy lights that guide us up the iron backstairs and into the civilized Mayfair night. We promise to be back for the Speak Easy nights, some fancy dressing -up and even more Martini’s. Now home, (St.) James!

Tel 020 7976 2222

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