Resto 33 Papa L’s Kitchen, St James’s

Rowley’s being fully booked (and frankly I didn’t like the look of their clientèle) we hopped across the road to Papa L’s, which sits on the site of much missed Getti’s. I’ve been meaning to go into PL’s for a while so it was good to be bounced into it on this occasion.

It was a bit of an African day since I’d spent the afternoon mugging up on the history of Ethiopia for a book review before looking at the Kentridge at the RA. Kentridge’s show is amazing and on exiting my brain was fizzing with ideas stimulated by the the sheer range of techniques that he uses to get over an unusually coherent world view that brings together European and African experience.

Which is a neat intro to Papa L, since their food is billed as African fusion food. The menu has nothing to scare off even the most conservative of diners (and I’m talking to you red-trousered Rowley patrons), with a good selection of veggie dishes alongside standard bistro fare with a west/North African slant. Which meant that up front we had merguez sausage with a mint dip and tempura okra to share. The merguez had good heat and the okra was about the best I’ve ever had, and that includes in any Indian resto. Coco bread was fluffy but a bit over-priced for one piece.

For mains stone bass was cooked perfectly but the promised scotch bonnet oil didn’t have the chilli kick that I was expecting. Similarly, though we were warned the side of rice had a bit of heat it was only mildly spicy. Perhaps they’re making a concession to the palates of Hedgeville rather going for a Ridley Road all you can handle vibe on the spice front. A bottle of South African Chenin Blanc seemed appropriate to help with and was beautifully chilled. We rounded off with a coffee (Nespresso, which seems a shame), which arrived with chocolate.

The room is pretty much unchanged from the days of Getty and pretty busy with a properly London mix of people which is good to see on Jermyn Street. Upstairs seems to be the party room and there were big-gish groups enjoying a Saturday night out up there. The kitchen being up there too meant that we had to wait a little between courses but not being in a hurry that wasn’t an issue.

Stand-out was the front of house team – friendly, professional and there when you wanted them. It’s a real plus to have somewhere a bit different in this part of town.


To see where else I’ve been click on the google map below.

Food London

f1insburyparker View All →

Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).

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