In these turbulent times, there is an indelible charm to be found in fantasising about a bygone era: a time before delays on the District line, or strings of overpriced chain restaurants; an era before the advent of Instagram, or even the birth of our Queen.
Today, if you’re looking to step back into this sepia-toned society scene, can we advise that you take a stroll down The Strand until you reach building number 100. Step through the ornate, centuries-old entranceway, and you’ll find that Simpson’s In The Strand was the portal you had been looking for.
This, after all, is a restaurant that has been around for longer than the Metropolitan Police force. The preferred restaurant of Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock and diners who don’t check the bill before producing their plastic to settle up.
Now, Master Cook Adrian Martin has delved into this iconic restaurant’s extensive archives to create the latest ‘Bill of Fare’ — a menu which reflects back upon the steadfast dishes of the restaurant’s 190-year history and recovers dishes, techniques and ingredients that were once commonplace, for modern diners.
A menu that stands the test of time...
Martin might be drawing from a rich culinary history to reinaugurate dishes of the past, but you’ll be glad to hear that mock turtle soup has stayed happily in its rightful century. What you will find, is the kind of heart-warming grub you begin to fantasise about when you’ve spent a little too long travelling abroad.
From its legendary carving trolley (as much of an institution as the restaurant itself), diners can enjoy the most sensational beef you’ll find in the capital — served with head-turning theatrical extravagance. Martin has taken care to ensure that the mains which don’t come served on wheels are just as delicious.
The main courses also revive dishes from past menus, including Native lobster Thermidor, which was first introduced to Simpson’s in 1931 or Tongue-in-cheek which comprises salted ox tongue, crispy cured ox cheek, horseradish mash, beetroot relish and first appeared on the menu in the 1930s.
An honourable mention should also be given here for the (genuinely delicious) wild mushroom and barley risotto with pickled walnut puree — although, on balance, Simpson’s perhaps isn’t the place to take your Vegetarian date. Be warned that the menu is seasonal and ever-changing, so don’t miss your chance to order the Black treacle-cured Loch Duart salmon with charred hispi cabbage before it’s too late.
Stepping back in time…
Perhaps Simpson’s greatest charm lies in its teleporting interiors. Despite a recent (and much needed) renovation, the emerald green banquettes and stained glass window still reside beside the original cornicing and columns. The oak walls and vast oil paintings of yore remain, lending a (remarkably unstuffy) sense of ceremony to proceedings.
Even Winston Churchill’s favourite table remains today in its rightful position by the far fireplace. The gutsome Commander in Chief prized that seat as the premier vantage point in London – from it he could see the town’s Who’s Who toing and froing.
Raise a glass in a Royal bar...
Simpsons In The Strand does not begin and end with a cracking roast. Take the thickly-carpeted staircase upstairs, and you’ll find a small but very tastefully furnished bar. This hidden gem draws its inspiration from the heritage of British chess, and guests can pull up a stool at the chequerboard bar as they peruse a boozier Bill of Fare.
In keeping with the restaurant’s seasonal focus, the cocktail menu here is ever changing. As well as featuring over forty artisanal gins, and a cornucopia of intriguing cocktails — the bar also serves a selection of the finest English wines.
London is not short of heritage restaurants that everyone claims to love but nobody ever goes to — allow Simpsons In The Strand to be the institution which bucks that trend for you.
Simpsons In The Strand
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