If you know Crouch End, but haven’t been for a while, St James is where Florians used to be. It’s the hip meeting place for middle-aged locals, the kind of people who work from home, and wear a lot of black.
We went for the £9.50 Prix Fixe, and I started with the root vegetable soup. It came with two slices of toasted bread, and I can’t remember what it tasted like. It was a puree and there was nothing wrong with it is the best I can do. The sauce on L’s chicken satay was far too sweet.
We both chose the Seafood Risotto for our main course, and it was presented in a really peculiar way. We got a mound of risotto, entirely innocent of piscine ingredients, with nice big chunks of fish arranged on the top. The fish was lovely, the risotto was – well – it was rice cooked with a bit of onion and tomato. I wondered if, when they ran out of fish, they would change the menu to – say - “Mushroom Risotto” and serve the same mound with an arrangement of mushrooms on top instead. Tremendously labour saving.
L had tomato juice and I had a coke. By the way, I’ve started saying “without ice” when I order coke, because otherwise they pile so much ice in the glass, you are effectively paying for 3 fluid ounces of thirst quenching, tooth rotting soda and some water. I don’t drink coke that much, but when I do, I don’t want it diluted. So I got it without ice, but at room temperature. Wrong, so very wrong.
It’s a popular place, with a nice buzz and the service is pleasant but the cooking is dull and uninspired. OK. Daisy Solomons Feb 2012