While eating out and heavy food might be the last thing on your mind after a month of over-indulgence, there’s a place that might be one to consider when your appetite is back on track.
I paid a visit to Simpson’s on the Strand – one of the oldest restaurants in London – just before the overkill of Christmas and I was tickled by the eatery’s old school charm.
The dining spot, which opened in 1828, oozes with character. Think parliamentary dining quarters crossed with a school library and the kookiness of your grandmother’s house.
It was a chilly night when I stepped into the building off the Strand but immediately I was hit by a wave of warmth and the smell of meat roasting.
Once my friend Sarah had arrived we were escorted by one of the suited waiters through the wooden paneled, triple-high ceiling dining room to a table near the back.
Despite the burble of fellow diners chattering away and cutlery clinking we could still hear a pianist in the corner busting out some soft jazz from the corner.
Hit with a crush of Christmas customers, service was particularly slow and comedic at times – when the waiter showed up with a bottle of Amaretto instead of Scotch our ‘lost in translation moment’ reminded me of a scene from Faulty Towers.
As there was a chess convention going on upstairs – originally Simpson’s was opened as a chess club and coffee house – the bar cocktails were off the menu, hence the neat Scotch.
For fervent wine drinkers, the place boasts an extensive list.
However, I was after something a little punchier and light given the vast quantities of meat that were about to set before us.
Simpson’s offers a three course set menu for £32. There is also a larger menu with more choices but the shorter version fit the bill.
For starter I opted for a menagerie of goat cheese and beetroot, while Sarah shot for the liver pate.
Despite the old school surroundings, we were impressed by the modern and appetizing arrangement of our meals.
Mine came served on a cool textured plate while Sarah’s generous serving of meaty paste came served on a chunky wooden board.
While the starters were scrummy, we were cautious to leave room for our mains.
I went for roast beef, while Sarah went for lamb. It was like a piece of theatre as chefs wheeled towards our table with giant silver serving dishes and revealed sizzling platters of meat.
Sarah couldn’t help but film one of the chefs started carving away, immediately sending the footage to her boyfriend in a bid to make him salivate – which I was informed it did.
While my plate was generously filled with slabs of beef, a Yorkshire pudding, cabbage and roast potatoes completed the lot.
Silence ensued as we tackled our meat feasts with the glow of the enormous chandeliers guiding us on our culinary journey. The constant jazz piano served as another welcome accompaniment.
While we felt pretty full , we agreed there was still a spot of room left for dessert.
If you’re a fan of old-school puddings – think spotted dick and trifle – then this is the place to come.
We decided to share a treacle and coconut sponge – doused in an ample pour of custard – and a selection of ice cream / sorbet.
Sarah and I agreed that Simpson’s is a great place to check out and tick off the list, especially given its history.
There was a mix of characters on the tables around us and you can pop in dressed up or dressed down, although ‘smart casual’ is suggested.
And if you’re a fan of chess then you can indulge in a match after your meaty fix.
Sarah and I on the other hand bid a fond farewell and continued our rather lovely date night with a very quaffable cocktail at the Savoy’s Beaufort bar next door.
To make a reservation at Simpson’s in the Strand visit www.simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk or call 020 7836 9112