Gillrays’ Steakhouse & Bar, London Marriott Hotel County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
Westminster is some to some of the finest food in the country, probably due to the guys and gals in Parliament demanding the very best and leaving you and me to pay the bill. Still, at least our money is being spent on more deserving things than duck shag-pads or A certain MP’s husband’s sordid film fetish. So aside from BS, what else does Westminster serve?
Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar is located in the rather grandiose London Marriot Hotel County Hall and boasts’fantastic views’ of certain landmarks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Big Ben and Parliament I agree with but not so sure on the London Eye, you can go to a funfair for that. Nevertheless, Lady Q assured me that her view was’really nice’ having chosen the seat that faced the windows.
Prior to dinner we settled in the rather trendy bar for a couple of Gillray’s speciality cocktails that were particularly boozy. The chandelier was spectacular; the stark contrast between bold colours on the furniture stimulated the eyes and the overall feeling is that you’ve definitely come to a classy joint. It’s the proverbial set-up before the restaurant knocks you out of the park.
The restaurant was a lot more elegant than the bar with a heavier fixation on polished wood and a scattering of marble tables. The tones are softer on the eye and the ambience is pleasant with a cracking medley of songs. Our waitress was a chatty little chica who proved to be very helpful in decision-making and knowledgeable in her menu. Hors d’oeuvres arrived in the form of a’Gillray’s take’ on the traditional Yorkshire pudding that was huge and got a’yummy’ rating from Lady Q.
My starter was Devonshire Crab Cakes with mustard and dill mayo, again proving to be quite substantial in size. I’d have expected crab cakes to contain plenty of potato but these were heavily dominated by large fleshy rich crab chunks. The mustard and dill mayo was an excellent sauce to accompany the dish and I was delighted with the course. It was becoming quite clear why the restaurant is a particular favourite with the Americans. My GP recently informed me that I’d qualified as technically obese but the day I’m truly worried is when I’m qualified as American.
Gillray’s signature dish is a 1kg Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bull’s Head’, a mountainous slab of beef. The waitress attempted to coax me into taking on the challenge but the previous course and the Yorkshire pud were taking their toll, so I opted for a Porterhouse accompanied by Baked Bone Marrow, Baby Carrots in Shropshire Honey and Truffle & Parmesan Chips. The steak was cooked perfectly and was a good cut of meat but the accompaniments outshone the meat. The carrots were soft as velvet with a syrupy sweet undertone of flavour, the bone marrow was terrific and the chips were crunchy and packed with flavour. I don’t want to convey that I was disappointed with the steak, it was good meat, but the accompaniments definitely stole the show.
We’re both absolutely stuffed before the dessert menus arrived and almost dread having to put away another course. The wine had been great all evening and matched the dishes well, so we decided to split a Sticky Toffee Pudding with Cornish Clotted Cream. Good job that we shared as the slice was more like a doorstop. The soft sweetness and thick rich cream was a perfect ending to the meal.
Lady Q and I have had a good night and managed to stuff ourselves with some good cooking, nice wine and luxury surroundings. It is perhaps a little pricey considering that the restaurant is in house. The porterhouse will set you back £36 before you’ve added any extras and side – for that price there are other venues that can compete. Still, we’ve both enjoyed the evening and you can’t really put a price on a top memory.