There’s an enticing promise of both, an education and an adventure, from the moment we walk into Scully – the new restaurant in St James’ Market helmed by the eponymous chef, Ramael Scully…
The hint is in the name actually, as Scully was formerly the head chef at Yotam Ottolenghi’s flagship restaurant Nopi, having also co-authored Ottolenghi’s NOPI Cookbook.
Defying any singular label or culinary tradition, his first solo venture is instead shaped by his eclectic heritage – Scully’s father is Irish-Balinese, while his mother is of Chinese and Indian descent. He was born in Malaysia and brought up in Sydney, before later working in the Middle East, Russia and Europe.
All this manifests a menu marrying seasonal ingredients (sustainably-sourced from Natoora and the British Isles) with a startling array of house-made spices and syrups, extracts, pickles and preserves. These binding factors are proudly on display by the entrance; and if you pull up a seat by the marbled kitchen counter, you can watch as Scully and his team work their magic on the different elements… with rather ravishing results!
Pickled veggies and steamed masala chickpeas make for a warming welcome, before we tear into a Colombian-style Arepa. Made from a fermented corn-based dough, the deep-fried dome sheaths a gloriously pillowy texture and is perfect for mopping up the eggplant “sambal” served alongside. Bergamot labneh adds a fabulously floral finish to the tenders slivers of aubergine and all told, this is one of the most euphoric assemblies I’ve encountered in recent times.
The afternoon continues with an instruction in the seasonality of British produce. A salad of early season tomatoes and green strawberries has a nice touch of acidity, countered by a mild sweetness and a shot of Scully’s homemade green chilli oil. It’s a dish that decidedly requires both a fork and a spoon, so you can easily slurp up the pool of “tomato shrub” at the bottom.
Meanwhile “forbidden rice” has all the goodness of Asian cooking, with the nutty profile of the staple Malaysian rice tempered by kaffir lime. Shiitake, turnips and spring onions complete the satisfyingly-substantive picture!
Desserts prove no less an intriguing affair. Matcha ice cream is particularly fulfilling, its bittersweet creaminess foiled by the satisfying crunch of the chocolate sable lying atop… It’s the delicate dollops of yuzu and miso gel which lend the really distinctive touch here though!
Our front row seats – surrounding the open kitchen – let us chat with Chef Scully quite easily through the afternoon and he animatedly hints of upcoming menu additions to return for, featuring a new world of seasonal veggies.
In case you’re wondering, there are also plenty of tables for larger groups; and a bar sending out cocktails making sustainable use of the homemade shrubs (Pandan daiquiri anyone?), alongside offering an impressive selection of natural wines.
Yes, there’s really no doubt about it… Scully is quite possibly one of the most fascinating restaurants to dine at in London, right now!
Scully, 4 St James’s Market, St James’s, SW1Y 4QA
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