I have wanted to try this venue for quite some time, and after a couple of attempts, I finally managed to visit the courtyard of ‘The American Bar‘ at The Stafford, London, for lunch, cigars and whisky.
Making reservations seemed pretty straightforward on the hotel’s website. It’s simply a case of selecting ‘ Book a table’, entering the date you wish to visit under ‘The American Bar’ section, then select ‘All Day Dining – Al Fresco’ dining. I even added a ‘note’ to my booking stating that I wanted to smoke cigars to avoid any problems on the day.
The hotel itself is hidden down the back streets of St James in the City of Westminster, London. Just around the corner from all of London’s premium cigar stores.
When we (I went with a mate, that doesn’t smoke cigars) arrived at The Stafford, the receptionist told us the directions to ‘The American Bar’, and we made our way there.
The bar is covered in American memorabilia, tons of baseball caps hanging from the ceiling, a great little setting before you head out to the courtyard to smoke a cigar.
You wait for someone to check you in at the courtyard, and they take you to your reserved seat. We were seated in the shade on this occasion, which was quite cold. The better seats look like the ones in the sunshine. So do push for that if you are sitting somewhere else.
The day we went was lovely and sunny outside, although there were some protests nearby, so noisy helicopters were above us and surrounding the area, which was not very relaxing. It’s London, and it’s a busy city, what do you expect?
Our waitress referred to my cigar request and placed an ashtray on our table. She mentioned that she would bring over a cigar menu, but this never happened, and we never saw that waitress again.
I tried to get another waiter’s attention, and they told us to scan a QR code on the table to gain access to the cigar menu. But on the first attempt, I couldn’t find it. I had to ask again, and another waitress told me that the cigar menu link was under the drinks menu. So pretty hidden.
I decided to opt for a Juan Lopez Exclusivos Gran Bretana cigar. It was one of the pricier cigars on the menu, but I fancied a Cuban cigar, and this had a perfect length (5 3/4 inches) and ring gauge (54). I have smoked this brand before, a Seleccion No 2, and scored it highly, so I had high expectations for this cigar.
For food, I ordered the Chicken Milanese, which looked OK but didn’t taste amazing.
After my lunch, my cigar was bought over in a cigar tray with a cigar cutter and matches.
There was a little bit of damage to the cigar leaf towards the bottom left of the cigar. You can just about see it in the photo.
Whilst it looks like a stunning cigar, the Juan Lopez Exclusivos Gran Bretana was incredibly dry, and I don’t think The Stafford had looked after this cigar very well. I did enjoy cutting the cap and lighting the cigar in the courtyard. It felt great to smoke around other diners. It was described as a ‘full’-bodied cigar, but it felt more ‘medium-full’ bodied for me. Flavour notes included earth, cedar and wood. The cigar was spicy, increasing in spiciness towards the final third.
Because we weren’t in the sunshine, the service was a bit hit and miss, not the best food, and the cigars didn’t look like they were cared for properly – I was kind of disappointed with this visit. This was a real shame as I looked forward to my experience here.
My rating: 5 out of 10
I don’t want to put anyone off from trying out this place, though. Remember, reviews are based on an individual’s experience, so you may get something more than I did here. If I were to go again, I would eat inside the American Bar beforehand and then venture out to the courtyard in the sunshine for your cigar (maybe bringing my own along).
If you are interested in visiting, check out the details below…