Published on Bon Vivant on 21st August 2012:
How do you do a steakhouse differently? Well if you’re at Gillray’s, you start the dinner with a cheese laden Yorkshire pudding and a serving of horseradish sauce.
“A Yorkshire pudding? How strange” you might think. And yes, to a certain extent, it is. But it’s also terribly well made, amusingly different and very English. After all, the inspiration behind Gillray’s is the English caricaturist James Gillray.
Housed in the London Marriott County Hall, Gillray’s boasts views of the Thames, Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Head chef, Gareth Bowen, is said to have worked at Michelin-starred restaurants all over the world before landing at Gillray’s at the beginning of this year.
So what might you find at this very English establishment? Well the menu is certainly peppered with English ingredients – Brixham diver king scallops, Forman’s London cure smoked salmon, Devonshire crab cakes and Surrey duck egg salad – all very quaint.
Half a dozen Cornish oysters, baked with cheddar and spinach, is probably what you should go for though: plump, creamy and delicious. But don’t stop to count the calories before moving on to the main course – steak.
You can, of course, choose from a selection of cuts, including bone-in or bone-out, and a special ‘ladies’ cut’ fillet. The meat is Yorkshire Hereford cattle from the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate, 35 day dry aged. Then you can have it cooked to anywhere between blue and well done, according to the very scientific measurement of temperature; so says the cooking chart on the menu anyway. The steak is very well cooked but not as gamey as you might expect for something which has been aged for so long.
The steak comes with tomatoes, mushroom and a sauce of your choosing. There’s no Béarnaise – that wouldn’t be very English – but there is tarragon butter, which is very much the same and just as good. If you require something more, the truffle and parmesan chips offer a pungent earthly delight, which are seriously good.
The wine list is rather small though, and if you were looking to spend a small fortune on wine, you probably won’t succeed. Instead, go for a very good mid-range Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi, which is light but intensely fruity and a good contender against the steaks.
If they insist and you are so inclined, do go for a cheese course. The entirely English selection consists of variations on blue, brie, goats’ and cheddar, all served with chutney, apple and croûtes.
Classic desserts like sticky toffee pudding are on the menu but the keenly selected choice of ice creams and sorbets are just delicate enough to finish a heavy meal. The elderflower and champagne, in particular, is the epitome of summer.