Following a huge refurbishment earlier this year, the grande dame of London’s restaurants, The Savoy Grill has recaptured its glorious past.
Review: The Savoy Grill, London
The ghosts of the past loom large at the Savoy Grill on the Strand. Former diners include Marlene Dietrich, James Dean, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, whose ink-drawn portraits by fashion illustrator Thom Botwood, adorn its dusty pink silk-lined walls. Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite clock sits quietly above his usual table near the window, from where the British statesman liked to keep an eye on the comings and goings at the iconic eaterie, which was once nicknamed ‘the second House of Lords’ due to the sheer number of peers who dined here. Even the Queen Mother was known to be a regular.
With such an illustrious past, expectations are high. The restaurant underwent a huge refurbishment earlier this year by award-winning design studio Afroditi, which has restored the famous dining room to its former glory. Inspired by the glamourous 1920s Hollywood Regency style, sumptuous deep red velvet-lined booths and an abundance of metal and glass detail in its pillars and panels evoke the Art deco era. The original layout of the tables has been retained, as have the stunning Swarovski chandeliers, but there are several bespoke features, including the scalloped pewter bar and handmade feather tiles, as well as the aforementioned artwork, which go a step further in evoking the chic glamour of its glorious past.
But what of the food? With a reputation that reaches back to the 1890s, when impresario Richard D’Oyly opened the restaurant as a natural partner to the hotel’s theatre, it would be easy to sit on its laurels; and for a while it did, to judge by past reviews. But Executive Head Chef Michael Turner has elevated the menu. All the classics are there: the Arnold Bennett soufflé, the lobster thermidor and the duck à l’orange, but prepared with high-quality seasonal ingredients and served with a level of finesse that befits this historic establishment.
The Louët-Feisser oysters were exquisite, fresh from the flow of Carlingford Lough’s grade-A waters and doused in a sweet and sour vinaigrette. The steak tartare, Gordon Ramsay’s signature Beef Wellington with confit Roscoff onion and red wine jus and lobster thermidor, succulent pieces of lobster, immersed in a rich creamy sauce, topped with cheese and browned, and finally our shared dessert, an apple tarte tatin, with Tahitian vanilla ice-cream and salted caramel sauce – and one of the best I have ever tasted.
Gordon Ramsay has had his name over the door – or rather emblazoned on the doormat – for the past 20 years but he has little to do with the day-to-day running of the restaurant. It is instead the highly talented Michael Turner, who was involved in the opening of Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen in 2011, who has been at the helm since 2019, and has curated a menu that is just as impressive as its decorative makeover.
We were lucky enough to take a peek behind the scenes, courtesy of the wonderful assistant manager Sergio, whose attention to detail knows no bounds. We found a well-ordered and remarkably calm operation. The Grill’s renowned Chef’s Table has returned for those wanting to fine tune their culinary experience and there’s the exclusive Wine Experience Room, for those who prefer to dine surrounded by hundreds of bottles of fine wines and, with the expert advice of the sommelier, take a deep dive into the history of the wines, which will pair perfectly with your meal.
No fads, no gimmicks. Just superb food, served in exquisite surroundings. The new Savoy Grill is a dazzling reinvention of an historic landmark that embraces its iconic past.
The five course Taste of Savoy tasting menu is excellent value at £110 given that the Beef Wellington ordered alone is £65. Wine pairings are extra. gordonramsayrestaurants.com