Strolling through the iconic Westminster village one recent evening, I was a bit late for my reservation at Blue Boar Pub. My wife was on time and was already on her second Margarita by the time I arrived. Fortunately there was a cold and crisp pint of Blue Boar Lager waiting for me when I finally did get there. Blue Boar Pub is a modern take on the classic London pub. Already a much-loved local favourite with longstanding political links, renowned chef Sally Abé is breaking ground with the very first of her four new openings at Conrad London St James.
Sally – who I had the pleasure to meet on my visit – brings a wealth of experience from her time as Head Chef at The Harwood Arms, London’s only Michelin-starred pub. Combined with Estrella Damm’s Gastropub Chef of the Year 2020, the Conrad team have a real coup in Sally, who’s joined the exciting refurb at the hotel to refine and elevate the pub menus, whilst retaining the nostalgia and quintessential Britishness we’ve come to love in our proper London pubs.
Sally says: “I’m cooking the food I want to eat when I go to a pub, so my menu is a traditional pub menu, but with my own contemporary twist on much-loved classics. It’s all about quintessentially British dishes – done to their absolute best with a lot of love and care. I’m really focusing on attention to detail, using the very best British produce available, and just making sure the Blue Boar becomes one of the best pubs for food in London.”
Sally’s menu is a true celebration of seasonal produce found in the UK, used in creative ways to make her version of authentic London pub food favourites with a twist. The Coronation chicken scotch egg with golden raisin chutney is a superb bar snack and will really get you excited for your food order. Sally’s must-try starters include the Potted Cornish crab with cucumber jelly and grilled sourdough, which is exceptionally good and the Corned beef and mustard croquettes, which are incredibly moreish.
There are so many deliciously tempting main courses that constitute classic pub food, but not as you know it. Think Fallow Deer burger, with celeriac and bone marrow remoulade, bread and butter pickles, and onion rings (naturally, from the Queen of Game), alongside favourites like Beer battered Cornish cod, thick cut chips, mushy peas and chip shop curry sauce (see image above). I eventually opted for the Aged Shorthorn rib eye with triple cooked chips, grilled mushrooms and Bois Boudran sauce. It was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth good. The rib eye fat was perfectly cooked and this isn’t the easiest thing to perfect with a steak. Quite often it can be overcooked yet this was brilliant and lent to the taste so much.
To finish, guests can expect a sensational line-up of sweet treats to round off their meal, including Earl Grey and chocolate mousse with salted caramel, Buttermilk panna cotta with strawberries and mint and Apple and almond tartlet; of that teasing triumvirate I ordered the panna cotta, which I found to be refreshing and palate cleaning. Quite honestly, again the choices are all so tempting on the dessert menu, just as they are for the starters and mains.
In Sally’s opinion, there’s nothing quite like a Sunday pub roast, which is why she’s determined the Blue Boar’s will become a London favourite and has spent the past few months crafting the ultimate Sunday roast. Available every Sunday from 12pm – 6pm, Sally and the team will be serving a selection of Lake District Farmers meats, perfectly cooked and paired with all the trimmings and a selection of Bloody Mary cocktails.
It’s not just the menus that have had an overhaul either – the pub has undergone an interiors revamp inspired by local landmarks like Big Ben’s clocktower, including a striking new bar. The pub has been redesigned to feel warm, welcoming and characterful, with plenty of bustling spaces for leisurely eating and drinking, lots of comfy sofas, and cosy corners and hidden spots for more intimate conversations. The new Blue Boar is the perfect space to sip on a pint of house draught or perhaps one of the selection of craft and guest international beers, wines, and iconic gins.
Find out more by visiting blueboarlondon.com