My partner and I recently had the opportunity to have lunch at the prestigious Savoy Grill Restaurant. Located at the Savoy Hotel, and currently run by the Gordon Ramsay organisation, Savoy Grill is one of London’s most legendary restaurants. Established in the 1920’s and frequented by such celebrities as Sir Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Frank Sinatra and HM Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), I had high expectations for both the service and the food. Sadly, I was to be disappointed.
We had pre-booked a 3-course lunch menu (£30 pp), but you also have a 2-course option for £26 pp. Upon arrival, we were swiftly shown to our table and champagne was served within minutes, followed by a basket of bread. So far so good.
Next we were welcomed by the man with “today’s trolley”, presenting (with a heavy, indecipherable accent) a suckling pig roll, stuffed with herbs (£12 supplement). This was to be served tableside, and for the remainder of our meal he was pushing his trolley up and down the dining room, desperately trying not to bump into guests and, if I’m honest, causing a bit of a distraction. Having turned down the trolley man, we returned to our menus.
The starter selection included spring vegetable and lovage broth with poached guinea fowl, or roast bone marrow and beef ragout with crispy shallots and toasted sourdough. My partner chose a delicious smoked English mackerel with Jersey royals, spring onions and horseradish dressing, whereas I opted for the baked egg cocotte with trompettes and wild garlic. Clearly I pulled the short straw here – a small pot of baked eggs covered with mushrooms served with two pieces of toast. I found it bland and left longing for a bolder variety of flavours. My partner’s salad was tasty and the smoked mackerel flaky and delicious.
For the main course we both went with the charcoal grilled sirloin steak (rare and medium respectively) with watercress salad, game chips and peppercorn sauce, for which we had to cough up an additional £12.95 each. As a side dish, we decided to share a portion of sautéed mushrooms with shallots (£4.95 extra). Other mains options (without an additional fee) were monk’s beard and broad bean risotto with shaved aged Parmesan, pan-fried Cornish sea bream with roast aubergine purée, brown shrimps and salsa verde, and confit Gressingham duck leg with crushed truffle potato, Vichy carrots and devilled sauce.
The main courses arrived after what I would say the perfect amount of time after we had finished our starters. The presentation of the few ingredients on the plate was unimpressive – a heap of watercress salad, a few chips and the steak, with a small, silver gravy boat holding the peppercorn sauce. Not that there would be a huge number of ways to plate this portion, but I was still left underwhelmed. Never mind, at least the steak will be amazing. Right?
Wrong. My partner’s “rare” steak was actually medium and my “medium” was a fraction below well done. The peppercorn sauce was too salty. On the upside, the salad was nice and fresh.
I also had a glass of wine with my steak, a fantastic, medium-bodied 2011 Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero region, Bodegas La Horra, Corimbo (£14 per 125ml).
Dessert options on the menu included a warm treacle tart with clotted cream ice cream, steamed berry pudding with vanilla custard, a rhubarb mess with brown sugar meringue and a selection of British and Irish cheeses (£6.00 supplement). We opted for the first two accompanied by a caffè latte and a double espresso. My berry pudding and vanilla custard were warm, but bland. “I can’t even remember” was my partner’s description of his choice.
Service was OK and forgettable. The man pushing around a piece of pork on a huge trolley was annoying. Starters – hit and miss, really. The steak, ah yes, the steak. I hate to say this but I’ve had much better meat at Gaucho or even at another Ramsay-owned establishment, Heddon Street Kitchen. And this place is called the Savoy GRILL? Go figure. The highlight of my lunch was the wine, of which I shall be buying many a bottle. Total bill with service charge came to just under £165.
2/5, if you’re looking for “a Savoy experience”, this isn’t it.
Address: Savoy Hotel, 1 Savoy Court, London WC2R 0EU
Phone: +44 (0)20 7592 1600
Dress code: Smart casual, no shorts or sportswear. Smart trainers and denim are acceptable.
Featured image copyright: Gordon Ramsay Holdings.