As you might be aware if you read my recent review of Piebury Corner I quite like a pie. And at £4.50 a pop Piebury’s are pretty much spot on. However, on Saturday Goose and I dined in a little more style and luxury and I sampled a pie that took the encasement of meat products in pastry to another level.
Some time ago I booked a table for lunch at the Savoy Grill on the Strand in London. This was a late birthday treat for Goose and we combined it with a visit to the National and the Portrait galleries, coffee at St Martin’s in the Fields, and a play at the Aldwych theatre in the evening. Well you only live once eh?
The Savoy is very posh. The sort of posh that means the toilets have individual face towels instead of hand dryers or paper towels. The sort of posh that means they have genuine masterpieces on the walls and much of the clientele look like they own most of Buckinghamshire or a large amount of shares in General Motors.
But the dining room, one of that f***ing Gordon f***in’ Ramsey’s restaurants, is open to anyone who has the money to pay for it. And actually, its quite reasonable if you choose carefully and don’t get too carried away.
Goose and I opted for the á la carte menu but there was a £38 four course taster menu and a £30 lunch menu (with a £16 supplement for the roast of the day). So if you limited your drinking (the wine is very very good and therefore very dear) two of you could probably get out of there for about £75-100. Not bad for excellent food and a historic and sumptuous environment.
Fine dining at this level means you also get fine service. We were served by several staff and each one was attentive, helpful and charming without ever being fussy or intrusive. We started with an aperitif – an Oxley G&T for me and a Punt e Mes* for Goose.We nibbled breads and poured over the menus – this took some time and the staff answered questions and made suggestions.
In the end Goose plumped for frogs legs to start – served crispy in batter with parsely and garlic aoili – while i went for the lobster bisque. I think that while both were very well done we might have chosen better. Fortunately for the mains we made better picks.
Goose had stuffed rabbit loin with herb sausage – a soubise cooked ballotine wrapped in pancetta – served with a borlotti bean cassolette and mustard sauce. It was so soft, really impressive.
We shared some mashed potatoes, mixed greens and wild mushrooms but my meal could have fed us both! It was a new thing on the menu – a grouse and wild boar pie. The grouse was pink and velvety, the boar just perfect and it all sat on wilted spinach – tightly wrapped in melting puff pasty, beautifully latticed on top. The rich gravy drew everything together and I felt that this was the sort of thing I would always like to eat for Christmas lunch.
Having started with spirits and it being the middle of the day I restricted ourselves to one glass of wine. On the sommelier’s nod I selected an Oz Cabernet sauvignon (‘Jester’ Mitolo) which had the body and the legs to match the game pie and not too much to upset the rabbit. I wish I could eat like this every Saturday
Desserts was a strawberry millefeuille for me (light and flaky with macerated fruits) while Goose opted for a gooey chocolate marquis with soft dulche de leche centre. I was stuffed, very hard to finish pud despite it being delicious.
Goose had another surprise because having told our main waiter that it was a birthday treat he appeared with a serving plate complete with mini cake, candle and ‘happy birthday’ piped in ganache! Attention to detail, very nice.
We sat in the lobby for half and hour afterwards, people watching and letting our dinner settle. It wasn’t cheap – it cost about £200 with service – but it was worth it. Once every year or two it is worth going somewhere special and eating really well. We were there for a couple of hours, in lovely surroundings – they even have their own mini museum – and you can relax and soak up the history and enjoy the sense that you are really being looked after.
That, and very very well cooked and presented food, is what you get from the Savoy Grill.
*If you didn’t know (and we didn’t) Punt e Mes is similar to a vermouth