SquareMeal Review of
Chef Mark Jarvis’s third restaurant in as many years follows hard on the heels of Anglo and Neo Bistro – two of our favourite newcomers of 2016 and ’17 respectively. A plum spot a minute from Oxford Circus and neutral interiors that feel more high-end than its siblings has perhaps led to prices that are also higher, although at around £25 for a main course, it’s par for the Mayfair course.
Mains were the highlight for us: pan-roast halibut with fennel, grapes and celery, and roast saddle of lamb with artichoke, courgette and basil were both humdingers of distinct flavour and precise technique; starters and puddings such as asparagus (picked at the peak of seasonal ripeness) teamed with a smooth whip of duck egg and a gentle tarragon cream, and roast peach in a raspberry sauce with toasted almond, didn’t strike us as quite so compelling, although they’re beautifully plated.
Stem was very quiet on our Tuesday night visit, possibly not helped by the lack of any signage (we walked past twice); we hear lunchtimes are busier, when there’s a three-course set for £27. Service was excellent, particularly on the finer points of an intelligently assembled wine list with an eye for the unusual, and the whole set-up feels very business-friendly – but if you just want to sample Jarvis’s intensely flavour-led style of cooking, we’d recommend you head to the cheaper Neo nearby.
Stem is recommended for