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Published June 13th 2013
St James: The Restaurant not the Apostle
Alfonso la Cava opened St James 16 years ago, and borrowed the name from the local church that sits just across the road. Open six days a week, diners can eat à la carte, or choose from the two and three course lunch and dinner menus. The restaurant can also be hired for private functions. I've been for dinner, lunch and a special birthday party (when the birthday boy took over the restaurant) and can guarantee that the food has never disappointed.
A few of us helped a friend celebrate her birthday recently with a delicious three-course lunch and we couldn't have chosen better. It's a strange thing, but when women go out to eat they tend to choose the same dishes; I think we all selected from just two of the options for each course. I started with smoked salmon served with a potato pancake, mixed leaves and sour cream and chives.
Smoked Salmon Starter
To follow I opted for smoked haddock (hubby won't eat it at home so this was a perfect opportunity) topped with a poached egg and onion rings, served on a bed of spinach with chive mashed potato and complemented with a yummy grainy mustard sauce.
Smoked Haddock Main Course
There is always safety in numbers, so we all agreed to spoil ourselves with a pudding, and then to fast for the rest of the day. As my doctor wasn't around, I raised my cholesterol with a silken smooth crème brulée, garnished with cubes of blackberry jelly and served with shortbread.
I will confess that we (with the exception of the birthday girl) were very abstemious and eschewed any wine; we stuck to the bubbles of mineral water whilst she enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne.
We finished up with a choice of coffees, and my espresso was perfect. It was just sufficient to satisfy an Italian, and definitely strong enough to require two cubes of brown sugar. Did I help myself to any of the chocolate mints on the table? I'll leave you to decide.
St James is in Bushey Village, faces out across a small green with views of St James Church, and sits among several nineteenth century properties, including the original 1840s Bushey police station. The menu is suitable for carnivores, fish eaters, vegetarians and gourmets.