This new all-day wine bar-cum-café in the Smithson Plaza – one of the few flashes of modernity in traditional St James’s – is the first new opening in 70 years from the team behind Wilton’s and Franco’s on nearby Jermyn Street. In contrast to the old-school feel of its siblings, Locket's is unapologetically contemporary, with a sleek Savile Row feel that’s apt for its suited-and-booted clientele.
The space is light and airy thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, strategically placed houseplants and bright furnishings. A black-and-white art-deco-style floor is the most striking feature, drawing you in like a visual illusion in case the wine list wasn’t enough of a lure.
Naturally, wine is the order of the day and the extensive list comprises an intriguing and impressive variety of both Old and New World labels carefully curated into flavour profiles to aid decision making. By-the-glass options, sadly, are limited – a strange decision for somewhere tailor-made for light lunches and after-work drinks – and we were disappointed to find only one full-bodied red amongst them.
That said, the food options stretch well beyond regular bar snacks with a menu that comprises a selection of European-inspired hot and cold plates designed for sharing. We started with some olives and a rather unappetising cauliflower hummus, but things greatly improved with the arrival of a tuna tartare seasoned with soy and sesame and garnished with wafer-thin shards of Sardinian flatbread. Beef tartare was likewise simply executed but flavoursome and the perfect accompaniment for a hearty Malbec.
From the hot dishes, a creamy Jerusalem artichoke risotto had us scraping greedily at the plate while the tender bavette steak was slightly lacking punch from the promised truffle jus, albeit well cooked.
It would be an injustice to leave without trying a platter of cheeses from Paxton & Whitfield round the corner. Though we opted for the smaller platter, the selection was generous, served with an assortment of crackers and a tart apricot relish.
With some hit-and-miss dishes and slightly patchy service, we felt that Locket’s was still getting into its stride, but with owners who are behind two of London’s longest-established restaurants, we’re confident that, given time, Locket’s will find its feet.