St James’s Market, 3 Norris Street, SW1Y 4RJ
Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus is the stunning new St James’s Market development which boasts a fine array of dining options. Established by Henry Jermyn – who was a member of the 17th Century royal court, and whom Jermyn Street is named, St James’s Market is a quiet pedestrianised street off Haymarket.
Walking through you are lead to a crossroads where in a bygone era a Victorian market stood with traders offering a fine array of goods including spices from all over the world. It therefore seems entirely appropriate that The Salt Yard Group (Salt Yard, Ember Yard, Dehesa, Opera Tavern) have opened their latest Mediterranean inspired outpost.
Veneta takes its name from the ‘timeless magic of Venice’. Venice of course has an immensely rich culinary heritage of dining and market traders, due in part, to the pivotal role it played on the silk and spice route and the many cultures it interacted with over the centuries.
A modern, clean and smart interior makes Veneta an ideal place for all day casual dining. The menu starts with a Charcuterie & Cicchetti selection – with the classic sardine saor being the stand out dish. Saor is fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions. For those familiar with Venice many ‘bacari’ are nestled along Venice’s narrow laneways, where one can stop for a brief ombra (a tiny rounded glass of local wine) and a small bite which is very often the sardine saor.
Proudly on display in the restaurant is the stunning ‘Veneta Raw Bar’ – a fine selection of seafood ready to be sliced and served to request. A personal favourite was the Sea Bream Carpaccio, light and fresh as it should be.
There are also a range of Anti-pasti, pasta, cooked fish and meat options for those looking for a more familiar tastes of Italy. The burrata and sheep’s ricotta Ravioli with porcini sauce was sharp, earthy and rich. The charcoal-grilled octopus with polenta was served with a basil aioli that brought a freshness to the well-cooked octupus. The charcoal-grilled pork rib-eye was also particularly succulent. Cheese lovers should also note that Veneta has an antique Cheese trolley to wheel out and be guided through – the Cheese sommelier will also help you pair your selection with an array of chutneys and crackers.
Veneta also has a raised 1st floor which overhangs the main restaurant which would work well for group bookings when you are looking for a semi-private area that allows you to still feel part of the main restaurant and buzz.
Reviewed by Anthony Laser