You will find Stanza, which has had numerous incarnations on this site (an ex multi storey car park) on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Greek Street, opposite the fire station. The entrance in Shaftesbury Avenue leads you via a staircase up to the first floor, where the reception area and the restaurant are situated. As you are led through to the restaurant, there is a large bar area with comfortable circular booths to your right, the restaurant itself, which has well spaced tables and a good modern feel to it, is on your left. Having been seated, we each ordered a glass of house white, a good crisp fruity Pergolino Bianco Veronese, while we chose our starters.
The daube of beef terrine had a smooth texture, but with some shredded beef running through it. It had a full, rich meaty flavour, the accompanying sour dough toast was light and as you might imagine, crispy, the a small ramekin of tomato compote had a sweet but slightly acidic taste that went well with the terrine. The scallops with camomile broth, parsnips and carrots struck us an unusual combination for a dish, it was therefore a must when choosing. The scallops were beautifully cooked little nuggets, juicy and full of flavour, served as a side to the broth that was constructed at the table. This dish worked, the soothing camomile balancing the sweetness of the mixed seafood ingredients that it had been poured over. Although the broth was quite light, this was a substantial dish.
For mains, the rump of autumn lamb with pureed pumpkin and braised salsify was a really good plate of food, the lamb tender and pink, tasting like good lamb should, the puree had some serious depth to it and the salsify, a sweet stickiness that I loved. The roasted chicken breast with parsnip and potato cake and thyme jus was another winner, the chicken beautifully cooked, moist and full of flavour and the accompanying cake was paired perfectly with the meat. Sides of carrots with rosemary and green beans were well cooked leaving them with some bite, they complemented both mains nicely. We had a bottle of Italian Merlot with our mains, this had a good softness to it.
The dessert menu at Stanza is quite short, with a focus on comforting and cold-weather puddings, it also includes a good choice of home-made ice creams and sorbets. The chocolate fudge brownie with walnuts and ‘burnt’ ice cream called to me and it delivered. A block of serious gooiness, deep chocolate flavour with a crust top and bottom, that was contrasted by the scoop of vanilla ice cream that had ground rich roasted coffee beans running through it. From the selection of sorbets, the raspberry, passion fruit and peach were all good and did not disappoint, the peach was by nature more delicate, so didn’t hold up too well with the stronger raspberry and passion fruit sorbets, which were both packed with flavour. Undoubtedly, on its own the peach would have been lovely.
Service at Stanza was spot on – we were very well looked after, the wine list boasts a good range priced from £18 upwards, and there are choices by the glass. Set in the heart of buzzy theatreland, Stanza has a lot to offer.