Not a Wedding Singer in sight – Gillray’s, Westminster

28 Jun 2016

Hotel restaurants and fine dining can be the regurgitation of an eighties wedding breakfast, all silver spoon, chicken breast and drunk uncles drinking too much whisky and upsetting Auntie Linda. For Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, however, happily, there is none of this.

Then there’s the spectacular view. Big Ben out of the window to the left and the London Eye over to the right. It’s a pinch me I’m dreaming moment, as floods of light shine on the ornate brass and into the curved room that sits as close to the River Thames as the all-too-friendly stranger on the Northern line.

A signature appetizer of Yorkshire Pudding is a welcome change to a ‘brown or white’ bread roll, and the correct way, in my most sought after opinion, to start any meal. The seasonal menu is a Book of Mormon, with saintly starters and matches made in heaven: gingerbread and terrine, goats cheese and watermelon, scallops and dates. The soup is a Garden of Eden green served in its own pan with an island of goat curd.

The team, under Executive Head Chef Sylvain Chevereau is a surprisingly small one and the four in the kitchen have their work cut out, even if it’s just help lifting the £55, 1kg Bull’s Head onto the grill (it was later revealed as a 1kg steak). His passion for food and knowledge of flavour comes across in every single bite, and the ability to leave some of his food still on the plate is a challenge I put to any man or woman.

Meats are sourced from English farms, with seasonal vegetables being delivered daily. The sticky made-from-scratch BBQ sauce will imprint on the brain and the taste buds, a marriage of sweet and smoky flavours in a white china jug, a modern accompaniment to the fillet steak.

For dessert, it’s a ceremony of British classics and the Traditional Sherry Trifle was presented in a jam jar. The waiter makes a crease into the layers of sponge, cream, berry compote and vanilla custard (I know), to pour the accompanying glass of sherry into and watch as it soaks into the layers like a thirsty river bursting its banks. Apparently there is enough for two… ahem.

It would be unusual and unexpected to be given anything less than five-star service from the staff at a central London hotel, and the Marriott of course, is no exception, every guest is treated to a friendly smile and entrusted with the delicacies the place has to offer. Cocktails are as impressive as the bar staff who serve them in neat shirts, waistcoats and braces.

Gillray’s is a special place, and one I hope remains sacred. Comfort and fine dining are at one here, it feels special without being exclusive, like being invited to sit with the popular kids at lunch rather than glaring at them from the adjacent table.


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