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Great Destinations in London: St James Market

If, like SEEN, you have favourite areas of London that you always visit then be sure to include the newly reinvented area of St James Market in your itinerary. This area between Haymarket and Lower Regent Street has been transformed with the recent spate of building.



We started off at the Sofitel St James, the luxury hotel at the bottom of Lower Regent Street. Friendly and welcoming staff greeted us (in French!) and showed us through to the comfortable St James bar. There we partook of the delicious Coco No. 3 – composed of Jasmine gin, passionfruit, English Breakfast Tea, egg white and lime juice. Despite its beguiling sweetness, it packed quite a punch. A special mention for the lovely stemware for this smooth cocktail; a tall narrow flute with a red base.

Thankfully, the next port of call was nearby at 1 Carlton Street inside St James Market; the newly opened New York Nordic restaurant Aquavit, where the gleaming interior and stunning textiles (one of which was by Tate Modern Turbine Hall artist Oliafur Eliasson) only served to remind SEEN how extraordinary the London restaurant scene is. Just when you think you’ve seen it all… We drank a hearty Scandinavian JukkasJarvi here (Pepper and dill-infused OP Anderson, Del Maguey Vida, Cynar, and Cocchi di Torino) and sampled some of the delicious and flavoursome Scandinavian food: herring dishes, almond roast potatoes, liver paté, Toast Skagan, cabbage in egg yolk… the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. Quite honestly, SEEN could have stayed here all evening. The attention to detail is as beguiling as the food: Georg Jensen silverware, staff uniforms by Swedish clothing firm Filippa K and the comfortable furnishings by Svensk Tenn. We had the pleasure of talking to Henrik Ritzen, whose passion for all things Nordic was evident. The ambience was as homely as the surroundings were glamorous.


The lights in St James Market are fabulous, and all the more so for being so new. We went to Veneta next. Inspired by the romance and cuisine of Venice and with intimate tables and banquettes, it seemed the perfect place for an assignation. We sat downstairs in the bar, looking up at the mezzanine floor above and the gleaming lights outside. We had a cocktail called Retro Spritz, which was very refreshing: Aperitivo Berto, Prosecco, Cardamom and Coffee Soda. In fact, the cocktails had some fabulous names, inspired by Italian futurism – SEEN definitely has her eye on an Abolition of Syntax next time she visits. Veneta will showcase wine exclusively from Northern Italy and also has a Raw Bar for British and Venetian seafood, not to mention delicious charcuterie and cheese.


A tad bleary, our party entered the friendly and welcoming Chop House on bustling Haymarket. This busy New York-style restaurant and bar has a young vibe; diners enjoyed charcuterie and meat dishes, and we sipped the festively titled Nutty Christmas which contained home-made sugar syrup, coffee and is of course the Chop Shop’s take on a Espresso Martini – Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua Coffee Liqueur and Frangelico Liqueur, garnished with cinnamon and star anise, this was warming and enlivening for the journey home. Henceforth SEEN shall have a cocktail instead of a dessert after a meal.