Hubby and I at the weekend: beginning the celebrations in style!
Is it too twee that we had colour coordinating outfits?
On Sunday, we began our week of celebrations: I took hubby for the ultimate Sunday roast at Simpson's in the Strand, London (part of The Savoy Hotel).
What is Simpson's in the Strand?
For a true taste of all that’s best in British cuisine, there’s no finer dining establishment than Simpson's-In-The Strand.
Only the finest seasonal ingredients are used by Master Cook Gerry Rae, in a Bill of Fare that offers a wide range of classical dishes, including classics such as potted shrimps, roast saddle of lamb and steak and kidney pie. The restaurant’s speciality aged Scottish beef and other roasts are carved at guests’ tables – from antique silver-domed trolley, by Simpson's Master Carvers in a perfect example of restaurant theatre. Simpson's also serves the Great British Breakfast on weekdays, with the 'Ten Deadly Sins' for hearty appetites.
Guests can also enjoy classic cocktails in Knight’s Bar, an art deco cocktail lounge located on the first floor. It is the perfect place to enjoy either a pre-dinner cocktail or after-dinner aperitif.
(The Savoy Hotel, website)
I first heard about Simpson's about 10 months ago when I was watching 'The Hairy Bikers: Best of British' on TV with my sister: the episode was all about beef (our favourite meat). In this particular episode Si & Dave visit Simpson's and eat roast beef carved in front of them at the table in silver domed trolleys. I thought to myself 'Liam would LOVE this' and then it occurred to me, I should take him for his birthday! So I made the reservation.
Simpson's-in-the-Strand is one of London's most historic landmark restaurants and has been offering classic British dishes to its delighted patrons for over 170 years.
Originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house - The Grand Cigar Divan - Simpson's soon became known as the "home of chess", attracting such chess luminaries as Howard Staunton the first English world chess champion through its doors. It was to avoid disturbing the chess games in progress that the idea of placing large joints of meat on silver-domed trolleys and wheeling them to guests' tables first came into being, a practice Simpson's still continues today. One of the earliest Master Cooks insisted that everything in the restaurant be British and the Simpson's of today remains a proud exponent of the best of British food. Famous guests include Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.
(Simpson's in the Strand website)I can't tell you how excited we were to be eating in the same restaurant as Charles Dickens and Vincent Van Gogh: knowing that Arthur Conan Doyle had written about Sherlock Holmes dining in Simpson's made this place extra cool for us as we are both big Sherlock fans!
Then, to our surprise, a few weeks ago while watching my favourite programme Downton Abbey, we saw Lady Mary Crawley visit Simpson's for lunch! How excited I was! We paused the TV and saw the waiters carving the meat at the table in the silver domed trolleys, just as they do today - amazing.
Ten months of waiting flew past and suddenly our reservation was upon us - we were so excited! We love a foodie experience and was really interested to see just how good a roast dinner could be. We've eaten a lot of roast dinners in our 28 and 30 years…could it really get any better?
The answer….YES…it can get SO MUCH BETTER.
The super stunning entrance at Simpson's in the Strand
The Grand Divan dining room: simply stunning!
Seated at our table listening to the pianist in the corner playing gentle Christmas carols - heaven!
The decor at Simpson's in simply stunning - I imagine it hasn't altered in years, the place just reeks of history, class and sophistication. Mustard ceilings with the most stunning detail: this place was truly made for me!
We both decided to go straight in for the main course (their speciality) of roast rib of beef with all the trimmings - we also added two sides to share of Honeyed Parsnips and Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon.
The rib of beef being carved and served at our tables. There was one chef for carving the meat, and another popping the Yorkshire pudding on our plates, serving the gravy and adding fresh horseradish sauce (if requested).
Roast Rib of beef served with Yorkshire pudding and gravy
I genuinely can't put into words how INCREDIBLE this roast beef was. I've had some pretty good beef in my time, but this was truly the nicest roast beef I have ever eaten. Aside from the fact alone that I was given a WHOLE PLATES WORTH of the delicious stuff (greedy me just LOVED this), it was cooked to absolute perfection (you can choose how well done you'd like your meat if the rare beef puts you off, but seriously, if you've never tried it rare here is the place to be brave, you will never ever go back to well done meat if you try this). The beef was like butter, it barely needed cutting and it melted in your mouth, juicy, succulent and FULL of flavour. The gravy was beautiful, as was the light as air giant Yorkie: absolute perfection.
The roast beef comes with Yorkshire pudding, gravy, savoy cabbage and roast potatoes.
I just loved the mini copper pans that the savoy cabbage was served in, and the crispy roast potatoes were to die for. The perfect roast potato for me must have a super crispy outer and a soft and tender middle - Simpson's definitely know how to roast their spuds!
Side dishes of honeyed parsnips and cauliflower cheese with bacon - pimping up our roast to another level!
Because we are greedy, and because we were celebrating - we ordered two extra side dishes to share (we didn't have starters so that's not too naughty, is it?) A bowl of hot sticky honeyed parsnips which were so delicate and delicious: slightly sweet, and cooked until soft and tender, these parsnips were truly a delight. Usually, parsnips served in restaurants and carverys are so overcooked and so caramelised that they can be borderline bitter - but these were sweet and perfect. The cauliflower cheese was creamy but not overpowering, the cauliflower still had a little bite, and the crunchy bacon pieces elevated this little dish of delight to simply another level. The perfect accompaniments to the best beef on earth.
T'ah d'ah - have you ever seen a roast so beautiful?
Of course, we gobbled up every last bit, and washed it all down with a delicious glass of their house Merlot each.
We followed the delicious main course with one of their stick-to-your-ribs classic British puddings each: I opted for Spotted Dick with Vanilla Custard, and hubby opted for Treacle Sponge with Vanilla Custard. PARADISE IN A BOWL.
Spotted Dick with the creamiest Vanilla Custard
Hubby's pud: Treacle sponge with Vanilla Custard
Both puddings were the perfect end to the perfect meal. My spotted dick was remarkably light despite the gorgeous suet dough, and was spiced to perfection. The vanilla custard was thick, creamy, oozy and rich with vanilla beans. A bowl of custard alone would have been pretty awesome, but add in the pud and it was a true delight. Hubby's treacle sponge was rich and cloying (in a good way) - spoonfuls of treacle mixed with creamy custard - is there actually anything better?
Portion sizes were great - generous without being silly, and left us nicely full and content.
Just as hubby took his last mouthful of pudding he said to me 'oooh I could totally eat that again, it was amazing!' … then I prompted him to look over his shoulder where our lovely waitress was bringing him over his delicious pudding: round two! We always joke that we could eat a second portion of pudding when it is particularly good: as it was hubby's birthday treat I thought he deserved second helpings!
Hubby's second helping of pudding!
One happy birthday boy!
We genuinely could not fault our meal at Simpson's: it was the best roast dinner we've ever eaten by a mile. The surroundings were simply stunning, the heritage and history of the place seeps out of the walls. We were totally spoilt by the waiting staff, and all in all in totally blew our minds.
In terms of pricing, we think this restaurant is very reasonable considering how incredible it is. It is of course a treat venue, we wouldn't be able to afford to eat here every Sunday (I SO wish we could!)
Our meal came to £120 (including service charge) this included: two roast rib of beef dinners, two side dishes, two glasses of merlot, a large bottle of still mineral water and two puddings (and a free third pudding!) At £60 a head, I think this meal was really very good value. I would eat there again in a flash, in fact, we are desperate to go back for breakfast and try their '10 Deadly Sins' fried breakfast for just £14.50 per person (served Monday to Friday). We will definitely book that up soon!
We finished our lovely celebration day together by having a lovely walk around London, taking in the sights and burning off some of our hearty lunch.
St James' Park in all its glory - such a beautiful part of London.
We couldn't go to London and not say hello to Queenie: Liam and I outside Buck House.
What a truly perfect way to celebrate something so special with my gorgeous man!
We have lots of other treats planned in this week of celebrations: we have already delighted in hubby's customary birthday fry up…
Hubby's Birthday Fry Up: a tradition!
Tonight, we are heading out to try a Thai restaurant in Bedford called 'Rice' which has had some incredible reviews, so we're really excited about that. Then we plan to hit our favourite cocktail bar in town called The Auction Room for some Amaretto sour cocktails (basically tastes like cake in a glass, yum!)
On Friday night I'm cooking Liam his favourite ever dinner: homemade chicken kievs, chips and beans, followed by banana tarte tatin. And then on Saturday we are heading out to lunch with Liam's mum, stepdad, sister and sister in law to celebrate with them. They are all heading back to our house after lunch to indulge in a piece of Liam's pre-requested birthday cake: Banoffee Marshmallow cake! I will be posting how I get on with the cake over the weekend, so watch this space!
By the way, can you tell we are food mad? Ha! All of hubby's celebrations are based around food…good man! :-)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIAM, I love you so much!
Disclaimer: This review has not been sponsored or paid for in any sense. I have written about Simpson's because we had a truly amazing time and I want you all to visit. Simpson's had no idea I would be writing about them, and the treatment we received at the restaurant was clearly an example of their impeccable service for everyone.