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Monday, 10 June 2013

London Restaurant Reviews - Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar

Where: London Marriott Hotel County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB (http://gillrays.com/)

Cost: £45-£50 per person on average for a 3-course meal excluding drinks (starters priced from £8 to £12, main courses from £14 to £42, and desserts from £6 to £7).

About: James Gillray, an 18th century London caricaturist famous for his political and social satires, was the inspiration for this steakhouse and bar. It has a quintessentially English character with a drinks menu featuring an impressive 39 English gins, fine wood-panelling, and modern Chesterfield sofas and chairs are dotted around the bar.

Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar is located in the South Wing of the County Hall with magnificent views of the Thames, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.

In one of the busiest tourist areas of London with surprisingly few options for good food and a civilised drink, Gillray's was a good find.

What We Ate: Dr G and I shared a platter of 6 Cornish Oysters (£9.50) served with a Champagne & shallot vinaigrette. These were fresh and vibrant, I just wish I had ordered a full 12 oyster platter.

The hand-chopped steak tartare (£14.50) was too much of a temptation not to be ordered - well seasoned, it was a good start to the meal despite the rather dull presentation.

With 35-day dry aged Aberdeen Angus beef from Yorkshire on the menu, our choices were not difficult. Dr G went for the Porterhouse Steak 450g (£35) while I had an entire T-Bone Steak 600g (£42).

The beef was cooked just as ordered - medium rare, red in the middle, and deliciously tender. Unsurprisingly at £42, my T-Bone steak was well flavoured, and perfectly accompanied by a serving of Truffle & Old Winchester Cheese Chips (£4.50).  It was a very generous portion, and I had only just managed to polish it off when I was told that it was intended for two!

Dr G very much enjoyed his more manageable Porterhouse steak, with Triple Cooked Chips (£3.50).

What We Drank: The Head Barman, Carlos Santos, is a fellow Brazilian, whom I was fortunate to meet and chat with.  He fixed Dr G a Gun Powder & Smoke Cocktail (£14), made from Hayman's 1850 Reserve gin mixed with Gunpowder green tea tincture, Remy Martin VSOP, lime juice, sugar, egg white and finished off with an ignited Laphroaig whisky (the smoke) which was quite a spectacle.

I opted for a Gillray's Ginger Martini (£10) - fresh ginger muddled with ginger syrup, shaken with infused ginger Chase vodka, Stone's Ginger Wine, dash of King's Ginger Liqueur, fresh lime juice and apple juice, which was equally good.

The wine list is primarily new world, well-thought out and with some interesting choices like the 2001 Chateau Musar (£75), one of my favourite wines. Prices start from £29 and quickly escalate. To accompany our steaks, we had a bottle of 2009 Shiraz from Barossa Valley (Australia) by Bethany G6 (£42)  chosen for us by Carlos. It was an excellent choice - big, bold and more than a match for the Aberdeen Angus.

Likes: Great steaks, cocktails and views, an impressive stock of English gins.

Dislikes: It would have been nice to have more affordable wine choices.

Verdict: In one of the most touristic parts of town, Gillray's is a real find - a stunning historic building with spectacular Westminster views and a selection of fine English gins and steaks, it ticks a lot of boxes. Recommended.

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