August 18, 2011

The Savoy Grill

There are hotels and there are hotels. The Savoy for example. The Strand's Grand Old Lady for the last 122 years. In October last year she opened her doors again after a three year facelift.

Back in 2006 I dared to walk into the reception holding my head high pretending that I belonged there. Since I obviously didn’t I just took a quick peak before skulking out again, but one thing was for sure The Savoy is not only a hotel it's an institution.

Just as the hotel the restaurants and bars at The Savoy are classical grounds for fun and food. At the reopening last year The Savoy Grill (where Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra had their own tables) was taken over by Gordon Ramsay Holdings and Chef Patron Stuart Gillie.

Being a foodie and lover of fine dining The Savoy Grill then of course went on my list of places I want to go. When a friend told me that if I came to London for my birthday we would go to The Savoy Grill I could of course not resist.

This time entering through the revolving doors I felt like I belonged there, or at least I had a reason to be there. Wearing a dress but trainers (no one sane walk around in high heels in London) I found a quiet corner of the reception to change shoes. Immediately there was a man asking me if I need anything. Well, no... But yes... A toilet would be nice. This way Madam.

The toilet was not only a toilet but also rest room, powder room and almost changing room for the busy woman of today. Back in the reception I again felt a bit lost since there was no signs, and there he was again. The polite man in the grey suit. And of course the Savoy Grill was just in front of me next to the main entrance. Oh well...

My friend had already arrived so I was quickly showed to the table and the first question was - What would you like to drink, Madam? Champagne maybe? Haven woken up with a tad bit of a headache (to put it nicely) from the BBQ party the night before I hesitated for second or two, but then I thought it's my birthday. You only turn 39 once. The waiter went through a long list of lovely champagnes and vintages, before I simply decided to go with the house Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur.

Catching up on things with my friend it took a while before we had decided on what to eat. And of course the menu had so many things to chose from. After much going back and forth I decided to have the sirloin steak with hand-cut chips. My friend went with roasted saddle of lamb from the lunch trolley. Since it was birthday I got to decide the wine, and of course I picked a bottle of Australian Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre blend - Butcher's Block from Turkey Flat. Just perfect!

The food arrived quickly and of course the chips came in a silver jar and the Béarnaise sauce in a silver gravy boat. But should I have expected anything else, really?! My sirloin steak was just perfect and the right colour of pink in the middle. Along with the wine, the company and the ambience this was turning into a birthday to remember.

It was then time for dessert, at least for me. And hey, I didn't have a starter... For once I didn't feel like chocolate, but still wanted to have something sweet and there it was - Strawberry soufflé with passion fruit and coconut sorbet. Sounded like a dream and tasted like one too. The inside of the soufflé pan had been coved with chocolate so I still got that perfect taste of chocolate.

As an end to our fabulous lunch we had espresso and of course excellent truffles and mini apricot gateaux as an extra treat. After two and half hours we forced ourselves to leave. Back on the Strand the hustle and bustle was almost too much so we quickly found refuge in Embankment Gardens where we spent the rest of the afternoon talking and having more coffee.

I guess one can say as well that there are birthdays and there are birthdays. Celebrating my 39th was definitely one of the better ones, especially since I got to do it for two days with all my very dear friends in my favourite city.

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