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4 St James's Market
The latest addition to St James’s Market comes from ex-Nopi head chef Ramael Scully. Cosy interiors include copper pendant lighting, potted plants and a treasure trove of a glass-fronted pantry, stocked with herbs and spices from around the globe (the staff will let you smell a few). A large sharing table and an open kitchen add a communal vibe, but the marble-topped chef’s counter is undoubtedly home to the best seats in the house, where you can watch Scully and his team slice vegetables with expert precision and artfully plate up dishes on pretty ceramics, without ever breaking a sweat.
This captivating kitchen theatre is backed up by a truly intriguing menu, inspired by Scully’s heritage, which includes roots in Australia, Malaysia, India and Ireland. Nearly all the seasonally changing sharing plates impress, from a veggie-friendly tomato and coconut salad with green strawberries (summer in a bowl), to barbecued beef tendons, hidden by a dollop of smoky oyster mayo and served with salty fried tendon puffs for dipping. Elsewhere, there’s lusciously fatty pork belly with house-made XO sauce concealing a subtle flash of heat, and an outstanding plate of monkfish rubbed with sambal belacan, a tongue-tingling shrimp paste. Desserts toy with the balance of flavours, with mixed results: witness the love-it-or-hate-it dish of parsnip and coconut ice cream, which was more sharp than sweet, followed by the more impressive bitter grapefruit sorbet which arrived paired with a scoop of indulgent caramel ice cream – a delightful mix of sweet and sour.
Fastidious sourcing, impressively well-informed staff and an unflappable kitchen team swapping jokes while turning out plates of pure wonder all help to make dining at Scully a thrilling and eye-opening experience – we can’t wait to go back.
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SquareMeal 3 Stars
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4 St James's Market
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 121m
Leicester Square Tube Station 335m
Criterion Theatre 64m
Mon-Sun 12N-3pm, 5.30-10.30pm (Sun -4pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Beyond a handful of restaurants, several books, a regular Guardian column and the now-guaranteed presence of zaatar in every self-respecting middle-class larder, Yotam Ottlolenghi has spawned a generation of professional chefs. Ramael Scully is one of these, now plying his trade under a restaurant in his own surname. If his mentor became famed for successfully combining genuinely eclectic ingredients from across the Middle East, then Scully goes one step further. In homage to his own roots, which take in Australia, India and Ireland, the dishes served in Scully embrace the cuisines of all these countries and beyond. Do not just bring your taste buds here to be stimulated, but perhaps a dictionary too. The quite daunting rows of jars that greet diners on their arrival (many of which are filled with ingredients prepared on-site) perhaps give a sign of things to come. Fortunately for me, my dining comrade for our recent meal had visited previously and therefore already knew his arepa from his jicama. He ordered for both of us. For those interested, arepa is a Venezuelan shallow-fried cornmeal pancake, while jicama finds its roots in the southwest of the US/ Mexico and is perhaps best-described as a cross between a potato and a pear. We tried the former, but not the latter. Our arepa (all dishes are intended for sharing, but I was assured this was so good, that we ordered one each) was combined with an eggplant sambal and a Begamot-infused labneh. So, in one mouthful, we got flavours from South America, India and the Middle East. It constitutes a potentially audacious combination, but one that was pulled off with deftness and panache here. Such a philosophy was pervasive throughout our meal. Influences, flavours and textures were combined, as if they had always meant to be. Presentation was superb throughout, as perhaps best evidenced by an amazin char-grilled broccoli dish, combined with Chinikiang vinegar and salted egg yolk. Although it would be easy to sing the praises of all the dishes, perhaps the stand-out was a superbly prepared short-rib beef pastrami, paired with fermented turnip and sour wood ear mushroom – a perfect Autumn dish packed full of flavour. It’s hard not to fall in love with the place and even someone as impatient as me was prepared to overlook the somewhat slow service. Scully is a celebration of joyful and inventive cooking. Ottolenghi would be proud.
Food + drink: 5
A superb meal: delicious flavours, generous portions, great vibe. This is a cut above the other restaurants in St James’s Market and I will be back.
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