Dishes fit for Queen Victoria reheated in St James’s

Chef William Drabble this week unveils a new restaurant inspired by his 19th-century predecessor at the St James’s Hotel & Club near Green Park. Francatelli replaces Seven Park Place, the highly rated restaurant he has run since 2009 – but which lost its Michelin star last year.

Charles Elmé Francatelli, London-born of Italian extraction, trained under the great Carême and was a leading light of mid-Victorian cuisine as author of The Modern Cook and at one stage personal chef to the Queen.

At the new restaurant, William promises to “bring to life modern interpretations of 19th-century dishes“, including Scotch broth, “the perfect shepherd’s pie” and St James ham in its cooking juices with slow-cooked carrots. His signature ingredients from Seven Park Place – lobster and Lune Valley lamb – also feature on the menu.

The new project, he says, grew out of a need “to rediscover the joy of cooking” after losing his Michelin accolade after many years.

When I lost the star, I was devastated – I worked my whole career to keep this thing. I’ve spent the past 12 months reevaluating what’s important. I’ve spent time with my head in the books, reading about my favourite chefs, their history and recipes. This led me to Francatelli, not only a culinary hero of mine but coincidentally the Chief Chef at St James’s Club in the 1860s.

I now have a sense of freedom I haven’t had since I was 19 years old. I always used to think, ‘Is this dish good enough? What will they think about this dish?’ And now I just think, ‘What do I want to cook? What feels right?’ I’m now cooking for myself and from the heart.” 

Francatelli opens for a soft launch on Thursday 29 February, ahead of the full launch next week.

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