Savoring the Savoy

by artfuldiner on December 26, 2022

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Special Events, Wining and Dining

London - The SavoyFollowing a 12-day cruise from Reykjavik, Iceland, we disembarked at Greenwich, England, were transported to London, and checked into the Savoy Hotel.

Built by impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan opera productions, the Savoy made its debut on August 6, 1889. Carte hired César Ritz as manager and Auguste Escoffier as chef de cuisine; together they established an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service, entertainment, and elegant dining.

London - Savoy LobbyGuests who have graced the Savoy’s grand, wood-paneled lobby with its iconic checkered floor include Queen Elizabeth, Claude Monet, George Gershwin, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Enrico Caruso, Audrey Hepburn, Babe Ruth, and Bob Dylan, who filmed one of his music videos behind the hotel. Winston Churchill often took his cabinet to lunch at the hotel.

But the Savoy, which is now managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and is often called “London’s most famous hotel,” is still at the top of its game. This is Old World hospitality at its very best… And the magic begins the moment you enter the hotel’s famous driveway (pictured above) and are greeted by doormen in top hats and tailcoats.

The hotel’s Savoy Museum, offering old postcards, busts and other paraphernalia that document the hotel’s glamorous history in London, is something of a must… Ditto the boutique Savoy Tea Shop with its onsite chocolatier and such irresistible sweets as lavender éclairs and raspberry & wine macarons. And the hotel’s massive 2010 renovation also saw the addition of a gazebo under a glass dome where afternoon tea is served to the strains of the grand piano in the Thames Foyer.

London - Savoy, View from our RoomThe Savoy’s 200 luxury guest rooms and 67 suites are all individually designed and decorated in either Edwardian or Art Deco style; and many afford breathtaking views over the river Thames and of London’s most famous riverside landmarks (pictured: the view from our guest room).

 However, even if you’re not staying at the Savoy, there are two very good reasons for paying a call here. The first is the Savoy Grill, undoubtedly one of London’s most legendary restaurants, presided over by world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this iconic establishment offers a British and French-inspired menu complemented by an exceptional international wine list. Truly classic dishes include the famous Beef Wellington for two, as well as a mouth-watering assortment of grilled meats served from the wood-fired grill, including a prime selection of 42-day dry-aged Cumbrian beef.

Then, of course, there is the not-to-be-missed American Bar. Serving classics with a twist, new and vintage creations, and legendary bartender’s signature drinks, the American Bar remains at the forefront innovative mixology.

London - Savoy, American BarAs transatlantic travel became more popular in the late 19th and early 20th centures, many American bars opened throughout London. The term “American Bar” refers to a bar serving mixed or “American” style drinks, more commonly known as cocktails. The American Bar at the Savoy is the longest surviving of these bars, and one of the most iconic cocktail bars in the world. It has been named World’s Best Bar at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2018 and World’s 50 Best Bars in 2017. Most recently, it was named one of the “The World’s 44 Best Hotel Bar’s” by the Forbes Travel Guide.

In addition to the cocktails mentioned above, the American Bar also offers its patrons an infinite variety of wines & Champagnes and spirits… as well as a number of excellent lunch selections, available between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. All with some uniquely British flourishes on all-American favorites. The Grilled Dry-Aged USDA Beef Burger, for example, is accompanied by Monterey Jack cheese, beef tomato, club sauce, and fries; The Vegan Reuben Sandwich is stuffed with avocado, sauerkraut, coriander, and chilli; and the Texas Fried Chicken Strips are spruced up with a zippy barbecue sauce, spring onions, and sesame seeds.

American Bar - Cheese BoardAfter an evening at the theater, my traveling companion and I stopped by the American for a late night snack that included such gastronomic possibilities as Oysters, Caviar, Coffee & Cupcake, and a New York Deli Platter. We settled on the Artisan Cheese Board (pictured), which proved to be an excellent choice.

Simpsons in the StrandOne Final Note: Simpsons-in-the-Strand is one of London’s oldest tradtional English restaurants. After a modest beginning in 1828 as a smoking room and coffee house, Simpson’s achieved dual fame around 1850 for its traditional English food, particularly roast meats, but also as the most important venue in Britain for chess in the 19th century. Chess ceased to be a feature after Simpson’s was purchased by the Savoy hotel group of companies at the end of the century. However, as a purveyor of traditional English food, Simpson’s has remained a celebrated dining venue into the 21st century. English author P.G. Wodehouse once referred to it as “a restful temple of food.” Since 2005 Simpson’s has been owned and managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Situated in the Strand, Simpson’s is part of the Savoy Buildings, which also contain one of the world’s most famous hotels, the Savoy. Having undergone a major restoration in 2017, Simpson’s featured a reimagined menu that succeeded in bringing its classic Brisish cuisine up-to-date. Temporaily closed since March 2020 because of Covid, to the best of my knowledge, it is the intention of the Savoy to announce a reopening date in 2023.

 Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


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