151 Sydney St SW3
The hospitality business is slowly beginning to bounce back but there’s not many who have taken the bold decision to open a new enterprise in these tricky times, yet Stanley’s has taken the plunge. Located just off the King’s Rd in the courtyard behind the well known and slightly risquely-titled Vietnamese Pho and Noodle bar ‘Phat Phuk’, it takes just a few yards to whisk you from the scent of duck pancakes and fried dumplings to an altogether different culinary landscape.
On good days the courtyard tables are the most sought after, and the side of the bar facing out has an almost beach-side feel that instantly transports you out of the borough. The ambience is English country garden, though we did start a bit further south with a couple of glasses of Whispering Angel Rose from Provence. Showcasing a predominately British seasonal menu, head chef Olivia Burt also has a trace of French influence running through her work from a spell at Joel Robuchon on the Champs Elysees. Prior to joining Stanleys, she also did a spell at Claridges, and foodies may recognise her from last years’ Masterchef: The Professionals.
The predominance of small plates fits perfectly with the all-day vibe, and we decided to make up our own meze. The Burrata, Heritage Tomatoes and Rose Petals pairs an excellent creamy burrata, sweetly acidic tomatoes with perhaps a little too-shy hint of rose. The Sourdough Crumpet, Cornish Crab & Potted Shrimp however cannot be faulted – the addition of the crumpet gives a new twist to a classic combination and makes for a heartier dish. Crispy Prawns with Sriracha Emulsion have an enticingly crisp batter, with the emulsion providing a subtle dash of Thai-style hot chilli finish. We did stray off the small plates to sample the Halibut, which is a small roasted steak adorned with some shaved green and yellow courgette, charred little gem, pea puree & lemon verbena. Satisfyingly tasty; I would have polished off far more than my fair share if I could have got away with it.
Nothing here is going to leave you over-full, which is great because it would be a great shame not to sample a pud or two. For some reason my doctor has recently put me on some kind of low fibre diet, but it’s tough to remember the details on a sunny afternoon. Hopefully neither the Caramelised Chocolate, Cherries and Meadowsweet Cake or the Fig Leaf, Gooseberry and Almond transgressed too far, but if they did, I’ll take my chances – it’s a well-known fact in medical circles that the official start date of diets is always “tomorrow!”
With a generous indoor area to supplement the courtyard there’s room for around 100 covers, but my spies tell me there’s already a bit of competition for bookings. Give them a call on 020 7352 7664 to lap up some of the late summer sun and enjoy some al fresco dining.