If you’re in London and looking for somewhere to relax, unwind and enjoy a proper British winter feast, Simpson’s in the Strand is an absolute must. Just a short stroll from the hubbub of Covent Garden at Christmas, this landmark London dining experience will take you on a tale of foodie traditions over two centuries. “Keeping your heart inspired and your stomach full” is the restaurant’s ethos – and it’s spot on.
Simpson’s opened 190 years ago as one of London’s greatest chess rooms, where roasts would be wheeled in shiny domes to feed players. The beauty of this place is that, although it has undergone a recent makeover, it has not lost its old English charm. Its grand, white tablecloth approach to dining makes it something of an experience in a world where street food bites seem to suit those looking for dinner on the go. This is a place where you can really switch off, drop your shopping bags for an hour or two, and enjoy the finer things in life.
A quintessential space, epitomising English elegance in every sense; from the service and the Sunday roasts, to the warm welcome and the opulent decor. Dark wooden walls close you in to the cosy space, while the high ceilings chandeliers and table lamps create a grand space with a touch of Downton Abbey charm. Blood red bucket chairs and big sociable booths make for comfortable dining, bringing the place up to date; while the restaurant’s traditional trolley service and oh-so smart waiting staff take us back to formal food times.
From pre-dinner cocktails and perfectly paired wines, to divine digestifs, hot beverages and soft drinks, there’s something to suit every palate, preferences and plate. It’s not just about the food hear – it’s about the whole experience, and as soon as we walk through the doors, have our coats taken by the porter and ushered to our seats, we’re guided through the glorious wine list.
Our Sunday sip is the Argentinian Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserve 2017 (£54). An easy-going, full-bodied red, oozing with black cherry flavours. It’s a crowd-pleaser and is perfectly paired with our dinner to follow.
The restaurant’s quintessentially British approach runs through to the menu. Whether you’re in for a hearty meal, a bit of fresh fish, or a traditional trolley roast, we’re certain you’ll finish up with a warm fuzzy feeling as you wander back out into the winter rush.
The menu itself states: “We only work with the finest. Our proudly British heritage can be traced back to one of our earliest Master Cooks, Thomas Davey. His insistence on the best of British extended to using the term ‘Bill of Fare’ in place of menu.” And the best of British it is indeed.
The Simpson’s trolley service started in 1848 when Mr John Simpson introduced the practice of wheeling large joints of meat in silver domes to each table, carving in front of the chess players without interrupting the game. Roast meat still forms the heart of the menu, with the trollies taking centre stage when it comes to Sunday feasting. Other Simpson’s signature dishes include: Buccleuch Estate 28 day dry aged beef wellington (£42), Lord Woolton pie (£21), beer battered fillet of cod (£22) and chef’s signature tongue-in-cheek (£24).
What we ate