- the epitome of traditional British
After a recent change of management,
Simpson's is reclaiming its venerable
reputation for providing first rate
back to 1828, when it opened as "The
Grand Cigar Divan" on the site
of the former Fountain Tavern where
the Kit Kat Club for literatti
used to meet. Mr Simpson, a noted
caterer of his day enlarged the
premises in 1848, and in 1898 it
was acquired by Richard D'Oyly
Carte the opera impresario and
hotelier. There are many dining
rooms: the most impressive is the
clubby restaurant on the ground
floor with its glittering chandeliers,
dark panelled walls and "boxes" with
divans to sit on, left over from
roasted joints are carved at the
table from grand silver dinner
wagons by carvers wearing tall
chefs' toques. Since the absurd
beef-on-the-bone ban, rolled sirloin
joints are the mainstay in the
beef department. The whole saddles
of lamb are no less impressive.
Wonderful pink slices of tender
juicy meat were arranged so as
to cover the whole of my plate.
This made it hard for the waiter
to serve my vegetables with any
great artistry, but this misses
the point of Simpson's - you don't
go there to have your roasts got
up like skyscrapers resting on
millefeuilles of aubergine topped
with wilted rocket.
This is not to say
that modern culinary art has passed
Strand without leaving a trace.
Dishes like goat's cheese and vegetable
terrine, or pan fried cod with
cabbage and smoked bacon were as
attractive to our eyes as to our
palates. I began my meal with a
bowl of London Particular, a pea soup invented to drive out the
effects of the dreaded "peasouper
fogs" that were a late nineteenth
century scourge of the capital.
It was so good that I managed to
extract this traditional recipe from the kitchens.
you do, don't eat too much bread
while you order you meal and wait
for your starter. You simply must
keep some room for those British
dessert dishes which are truly
worthy of the name pudding.
The lemon sponge pudding contrives
to be both light in texture and
comforting and the lemon flavour
was natural and not over sweetened.
Bread and Butter pudding is another
must - the custard was creamy and
just set - there's a genuine flavour
of vanilla, and the the bread was
crunchy on the top and gooey underneath.
Oh nanny, how we so miss you!
The service had bucked up considerably
since we last visited. The head
waiter looks more like a Harley
Street surgeon or a top QC, but
he's a big softie with his customers,
whilst keeping a keen eye on his
Until the end of
January, there's a special lunch
menu for £12.50
person for two courses, or £17.50 for three. The old favorites are all present
and correct. The offer is also available as a pre-theatre menu, for those ordering
There's a special Valentine's Weekend Menu on Saturday the 13th and
Sunday 14th of February. After a glass of champagne, there's a medley of Hors
d'Oeuvres followed by roast rack of lamb in a wild mushroom crust and truffle
sauce. Then there's the Simpson's pudding plate pictured above right.
The price per couple is £85 including coffee, petits fours and
service. I'd recommend one of the more feminine upstairs dining rooms for Valentine's
Clifford Mould January 1999
Simpson's-in-the-Strand, 100 Strand WC2, Tel: 020 7836 9112