Locket’s, a zippy new wine bar in St James’s

St James’s is one of our favourite places to be at this time of year with its handsome arcades dressed up in their Christmassy glad rags, garlands wrapped round the Ritz and winking windows at Fortnum’s. It feels perfect timing for the arrival of Locket’s, a zippy new wine bar and restaurant from the Wiltons Group. In this postcode there couldn’t be a more wonderfully old school story than that of how Locket’s came to be. Its arrival is thanks to Locket Hambro, the great-granddaughter of Olaf Hambro who bought London’s second oldest restaurant, Wiltons over 275 years ago, and whose family has run it ever since along with Franco’s a few doors down. Restaurants have long been in the blood, but with this new venture Locket has quite literally turned the corner away from traditional Jermyn Street to the Brutalist Smithson Plaza – formerly The Economist HQ – just around the block. Rather than cigars and three-piece-suits the vibe here is informal and quietly glamorous, with fab 70’s decor including a cork and copper bar, orange resin tables and a swirly marble floor. You could almost be in Milan were it not for the views from the floor-to-ceilings windows that look directly out onto the art galleries of Bury Street. We went for lunch and shared open Skagen sandwiches, pastrami and pickles on rye and rainbow salads from the counter-top. There are three hot options too, of which the melt-in-the-mouth celeriac puree with ox cheek excels. Come the evening when Locket’s turns from cafe to wine bar, things ramp up a little with sharing small plates like raw beef, salted egg yolk and truffle or burrata with roasted butternut squash. The menu is short but very well put together, with contemporary ingredients and a light touch that’s not so easy to find in the area – it is also good value with most plates around £7. Open all day from 7.30am-11pm it’s just the sort of place for a pit stop, whether for a morning coffee and a croissant, an early evening glass of Locket’s own champagne and giant green olives, or for a longer meal with very good wine. Old world charm brought bang up to date: we’re longing to go back.

Weekdays 7.30am-11pm
23-27 St James's St St. James's, SW1A 1HA
— Daisy Allsup
4th December 2019