Chef’s Table at Savoy Grill

Having never booked a chef’s table before I have nothing to compare with, but I still think the experience at The Savoy Grill is a bit special. See what you think…

The room is a cosy little booth for no more than eight, all of whom have a great view out onto the kitchen through a thick glass window. It admirably keeps the noise and heat out, although the occasional expletives from chef at the pass were still audible. We liked that. In fact we loved the whole experience of watching a kitchen at work for five hours. You can watch all the episodes of Masterchef you want, nothing beats seeing it in the flesh.

Yes, five hours. We were welcomed at midday and finally sauntered out at five, very well fed and entertained. I love a leisurely Sunday lunch, and this has to be close to a record.

One of the chefs would come in with each course to talk us through it and answer as many questions as we could throw at them. Well, at least until their body language made it clear that the tickets were stacking up back in their section! These guys were all working their butts off, most on a seventeen hour shift, and they still had to stop and have a friendly chat with seven nosey diners.

The highlight was just before the main course, when our waiter brought in aprons. Er… what? We all emerged into the kitchen to a chorus of hello’s from the brigade, and then took turns to cook our own dinner. I dealt with seasoning the meat and cooking it in the Josper Grill. My dad sliced the sizzling hot meat for presentation.

“5 minutes on Chef’s Table!” shouted my brother, to a chorus of “Oui!” from the whole brigade. Only those who wanted to were given tasks, and nothing technical, but everyone felt the experience of ten minutes in the heart of a big, hot, busy kitchen right in the middle of service. We certainly kept talking about it throughout our splendid mixed grill of sirloin, rib-eye and a wonderful brined pork chop. The appropriately trad accompaniments – sprouts, red cabbage, creamy mash, bearnaise, peppercorn and bone marrow sauces – were all excellent.

Yes, I really should return to the food. This is the Savoy Grill, so it is all entirely classic and simple. Canapes were merely some exceedingly good smoked and cured salmon on a wheaty soda bread with

just a hint of sweetness. An amuse of roast garlic and potato soup was a little too homely to impress. Despite my recent whinging about foie gras, our starter was my favourite dish. Wafer thin smoked duck had been pressed in layers with the foie gras, and the whole served at room temperature. This gave both beautiful presentation and a delicious dish, the smoke just potent enough to cut the richness of the liver. Brioche and chutney, naturally.

The fish was classic too, a neat chunk of halibut with a beurre noisette, celeriac puree and some braised razor clam. I have to say the fish was just a tad over, though everyone accounted it delicious. Our main course was seasoned and cooked to perfection – well, it

would be, I did it myself! After a palate-cleansing pre-dessert and a selection of English cheeses (to which our French waiter, Benoit, added a small Vacherin Mont d’Or, bless him) we were treated to a selection of six desserts. These made for a delicious ending, a series of classics all perfectly executed and with just the odd twist: tonka bean profiteroles, rosemary crème brulee, caramelised apple millefeuille with a cider sabayon, chocolate marquise with lavender and a pannacotta.

As a special occasion for anyone who is at all interested in the world of restaurants and kitchens this is a real treat. At £85 a head including a glass of bubbles it’s expensive but entirely worth it (and you don’t need to fear the wine list). Of course, you are nowhere near the world of molecular gastronomy, foraged oddities and theatrical plating. This is the Savoy Grill after all! But it is a very real kitchen, enthralling to watch, and the food was perfect for a Sunday lunch. Of course such an experience would live or die by the service, but as you’ll have probably guessed we were treated splendidly by everyone on the day, from our waiter and sommelier to all the team in the kitchen.

Thanks guys. Brilliant.

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    […] dining is getting busy exploring new ways to stay relevant and special. I’m going to remember cooking my own steak at the Savoy Grill for a long time. And yesterday we were served a seven course tasting menu by chef Will Holland of […]

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