There is a Twitter handle called @WeWantPlates, which bemoans the current trend of serving food in eccentric vessels. Chips in shoes, fry-ups in shovels, and main courses on dustbin lids – where will it end! With this firmly in my mind, and a celebratory meal due, I decided to take lunch at the salubrious Savoy Grill this week.
The restaurant, imbedded in the sybaritic hotel, had been on the radar for a while but had not yet been visited by this old queen. In full knowledge that the plates would be circular and virginal white, I looked forward to a classical luncheon. Despite taking a wrong turning and walking into the cocktail bar to begin with and then fighting our way through the army of waiters we made it to our table.
There is no finer way to enjoy a restaurant than with late lunch when you and your company have nothing to do but sit back, sip drinks, and put the world to right. The marvellous thing about booking the second sitting is that the table turn is slower and one can almost recline into the ending of the day.
The other highlight is the rebellious feeling that consumes you afterwards whilst you roll into the nearest louche tavern – the naughty school boys on show!
Perhaps it is because of my love for Mad Men that I like to wet the whistle with something strong at the table before eating; with us being Tom and George as opposed to Don and Roger it was English G ‘n T instead of Old Fashioneds.
We eschewed the main menu and went for the lunchtime menu d’haute, which at an excellent £26 pounds a head, meant we could dine longer and cheaper!
The waiters flipped seamlessly around us and all of them seemed to know precisely what they were doing – something that many eateries in London could look at improving. It was interesting to note that the majority of the waiting staff was from the sub-continent with lovely manners; perfectly attentive, and exquisite English – all traits that the rivers of the usual supercilious English and French waiters could do with.
We finished our gins with gusto and nibbled on starters of ceviche of smoked salmon, a classic French dish. Despite the sommelier misreading our decent suits and assuming we were chaps keen for a £400 bottle of Pinot Noir, we eased ourselves into the afternoon with an agreeable Beaujolais.
Ever the Englishman I decided on rare sirloin with greens and side of spinach(something I always forget to eat chez moi). Feeling perfectly satisfied with the steak we felt it would be rude not to attack the cheese trolley, which came with lovely chutters and juicy red grapes, with a sniff of port.
Finally, as the elegant rays of late afternoon sun began to fill the dining room, I waffled to the ever polite waiter about its shimmering beauty. The waiter took this to be his chance to offer me the bill and remind me that the pre-theatre dinners would be along soon…this I took as my cue to have a cocktail. The cocktail bar is a stone’s throw from the dining room but sadly lacks its charm, perhaps heightened by the vile gin fizz we endured – the egg whites had split!
Only a cleansing ale could save the day!
I firmly believe there is artistry in food and that there should be adventure – behold the great Heston Blumenthal.
But it is ambience not gimmickry that makes a meal memorable. Service, location, company, and food should come as a package – cocktails in a jam jar and lamb shanks in clown hats served by a heavily pierced girl in ripped jeans don’t do it for me. So grab a pal pop on something splendid and relax into another bottle served by a well groomed waiter looking resplendent in his ironed shirt and waistcoat.