Theatre bars and restaurants are often hit and miss – with many theatregoers in a hurry, the emphasis tends to be on speed over quality. This isn’t the case, thankfully, at St James Bar, part of the St James Theatre.
St James Bar is a very modern, well-presented venue that’s tastefully done without being boring. The black and white marled, marble bar is neat with its matching black high chairs, while sit-down tables and little sofa seats fill the rest of the space, also in blacks, whites and creams with a few flashes of colour courtesy of the cushions. Marble floors gleam under the funky feature lighting above. It looks more gallery than bar – in a good way – and is in keeping with the beautiful theatre.
While theatre bars can feel cold as staff try to serve as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, St James Bar manages to do efficiency without making you feel stressed out. The atmosphere may be a little on the bland side at times, as unless there’s a show on it’s not that busy and it’s too large a venue not to feel empty when it’s less than half full, but the staff maintain warm smiles. It’s easy to imagine this being a fantastic post-show spot for a tipple.
With a St James Brasserie attached, the bar only offers very basic food. Dishes include Welsh rarebit, burgers, salads and fishcakes, priced between £4 and £12.
You can’t help but think that St James Bar is missing a trick in not offering cocktails, but it does have a hefty wine offering. There’s a good mix of Old and New World wines covering a huge range of grape varieties priced between £13 and £170. The bar also shows that you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy a nice bottle of wine, with a decent Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Poggio al Santi for just £19.40. The beer choice is a bit less inspiring with Asahi, Becks and Corona to choose from.
The Last Word
Throw in a few cocktails and a non-theatre buzz and St James Bar would be a great little watering hole. As it is, it’s a good option for anyone visiting as part of a show.