For some people the spiritual heart of England is located in Buckingham Palace, for others it’s Westminster or Eton, but they’re all wrong. The spiritual heart of England is the Savoy Grill.

It’s been in its present location in the Savoy since 1904, a ‘casual dining destination’ where the great and the good, and often the disreputable, would eat and drink all day. Lords and Ladies would eat away from the crowds, senior politicians would hatch plots, and stars of stage and screen would be seen all the time.

‘That’s where Churchill used to always sit,’ Thierry Tomasin the charming, smooth, elegantly perfect, restaurant director tells us. ‘Over there, Charlie Chaplin. Where your wife is sitting was Princess Grace’s spot’.

A nice touch with the Grill’s recent do over under Gordon Ramsay is not simply how it doesn’t look done over, just perfectly timeless, but also that they have kept the tables the same size and in the same location that they have always been. It’s history in motion, not history in aspic.

These days you enter via the hotel lobby, and not the discreet side entrance of yore, but whether you’re famous or not, you’re made to feel that you are. The warm and friendly embrace of the staff is unforced, they act as if you dine there every day, and we are effortlessly swept to our table, properly seated and settled and left to look around and wonder.

The refurb has been done wonderfully. The giant Swarovski chandeliers still hang, but the deco-ish style makes the room less ‘clubby’ than it was a few years ago. It’s not intimidating decor, it’s welcoming. The Grill, even back in 1904, was never stuffy, guests were not obliged to dress for dinner, but I am still glad I am not wearing jeans or trainers tonight. Some respect is still due. 

Now, say what you like about Gordon Ramsay, and a great many people do, but I can think of no better person to be in control of the Savoy Grill. Ramsay understands classic cooking, he excels at it, he doesn’t chase fads or fashions. So many chefs today would look blank when asked about a ‘jus’, Ramsay would tell you exactly how to make it.

So the Grill menu under his direction today, with Executive Head Chef Michael Turner, is something a diner from 1920 would understand and be comfortable with, although he or she might miss the incredible length of choice of those old menus produced by a veritable army of kitchen staff.

Omelette Arnold Bennet, a Grill classic is still here, but now made as a lighter souffle option. There is Dover Sole, there is Halibut, there is Steak Tartare, there are garlicky snails, the freshest oysters, there are ebullient champagne sauces and of course there are thick steaks. Churchill would gruffly approve of it all, even as he was firmly requested to put his cigar out because some things do, after all, have to change.

Talking of change, for once my ‘phone stays firmly in my pocket. This is no place to be Instagramming, apart from the lack of decorum in doing so, there is no suitable light for it anyway. The Grill is lit for eating, not photography. All photos here have been sourced from The Savoy.

We choose the Taste of the Savoy set menu. Served to the whole table, it is a classic, a snapshot of time. An amuse of a cheese gougere is a one bite experience, the light choux pastry popping open to release complex cheese flavours that flood the palate waking it up for more.

Champagne refreshes us in time for a Carlingford oyster in a Yorkshire rhubarb mignonette, surely the last rhubarb of the season. The Englishness of using rhubarb, albeit on an Irish oyster, is charming. The sweet acidity of the rhubarb pointing up the creamy salinity of the oyster and there is a perfect prickle of chilli.

As mentioned, the Omelette Arnold Bennet has become the Souffle Arnold Bennet. It’s not served in a ramekin but turned out onto the plate. It’s firm enough to cut with a spoon, but the intense richness of the original is retained with strong cheese to the fore along with the flakes of undyed smoked haddock. It is gorgeous, it is perfect. It is a bit too much for P, who can’t finish all of hers.

This is wise because the next course is the Piece De Resistance, the Savoy Grill Beef Wellington. A thick slice from what I am told is a six-serving original, it sits on a bed of the creamiest mash and crisp green beans. A truffle jus is poured on at the table to make it extra special.

A rich mushroom duxelle is nestled between the puff pastry and the beef, which is cooked to perfection not rare but with a slight stammering blush of pink.

We’re happy to stay here forever, but time moves on and desserts are ordered. While we wait we’re given a short tour of the private dining room which doubles as a store for some of the hotel’s finest wines. It’s also, Thierry says with a twinkle, his office between services. What an office. 

The Savoy Grill eclair calls us back to the table. A rich mix of  hazelnut, orange and dark chocolate sauce, it partners well with the Sauternes recommended to us. We have had excellent wines by the glass throughout chosen by Head Sommelier Carlos Pinto.

It’s all been very grand and memorable experience, so grand I feel we cannot take the tube and bus home and so I call up an Uber to collect us from that iconic front door. Not cheap, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.

Doing things right is key. That’s what The Savoy Grill has always been about and very much still is.  Highly recommended.

100 Strand, London WC2R 0EZ