Celebrating Saturday’s food day, this week it’s tradition brought up to date. What a thrill, to be lunching – as Girlahead was yesterday – in The Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsay’s 120-year old restaurant at London’s THE SAVOY, A FAIRMONT HOTEL. Wow, more than a centenarian and, thanks to a tweaking by designers Aphrodite that included four giant Swarvoski chandeliers, as up to the minute as you can imagine.
Even in outside temperatures that were well over 30° it was full house. At lunch, at the close of the so-called Silly Season. Fred Astaire-suave Restaurants Director Thierry Tomasin explained with a somewhat apologetic smiled that the 90-seat restaurant does on average 140 at lunch, two sittings, and dinner is over 200. There’s also a ten-seat wine room, surrounded by bottles. Could one sleep in there, one wonders?
What to choose? Above is a signature appetizer starter, Omelette Arnold Bennett, evolved into an entrée main course with green vegetables, and a copper cup of fries. Arnold Bennett, why? The Brit, who lived 1867-1931, was not only a prolific novelist but he loved food, especially at The Savoy. He ate there so often that the chef created a smoked haddock omelette in his name – and Gordon Ramsay has adapted it to soufflé status.
Right, you might well ask, what makes a multitude of restaurants good but only a handful do so superbly as an all-round experience? Frankly the last time Girlahead had goosepimples at a dining experience was at Delilah, in WYNN LAS VEGAS. Arrive here, at The Savoy Grill, and slink around a glass screen to a honey-coloured haven. If there was music it was subdued enough merely to be ‘white’. Honey-velvet banquettes are the right height, their backs neither too far from nor near to tables covered in crisp white linens. White flute-edged china is bespoke, by William Edwards, cutlery is similarly modern, by Guy Degrenne. Chunky slabs of brown sourdough come with rounds of unsalted butter, under copper mini-cloches.
Service was so thoughtfully out of sight you barely knew it was there. A request for rosé brought a Rock Angel from Caves D’Esclans, Sacha Lichine. It’s sibling to Ch d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel and, thought Girlahead, it was slightly less sweet than Whispering Angel (has Sacha Lichine kept this one or sold it, too, to LVMH?). The wine was poured perfectly chilled and refilled with barely a whisper.
Who else was lunching here? A sprinkling of recognisable celebrities, overseas and domestic tourists, and anniversarians of all ages. Thierry Tomasin had a couple dining here last week who hadn’t been back since their wedding 54 years ago (he proposed, the first evening they met, at dinner here in The Savoy Grill). Love at first sight and, you know what, this IS one of those restaurants that one could fall in love with, again and again.