My London – Steak and More at Gillray’s, London Marriot County Hall:
As a born and bred Londoner, when the sun shines I make for the South Bank. Lucky me to have a lunch date looking out over the Thames from Gillray’s, London Marriot County Hall.
From Westminster Bridge it is a stunning building. And, although I still remember it as the home of the GLC, the interior has now been converted into a Luxury hotel, the London Marriot County Hall Hotel.
Of course, you do need to look back as you walk over the bridge. There’s really nothing in the world like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
But, as I said, I had a lunch date – and really couldn’t just stand there taking photos, even if the sun was FINALLY shining. Marriot County Hall has a grand river frontage and a similarly grand entrance, obviously perfect for the Mayor of London (and me).
In the bar we sipped on a very refreshing home made lemonade. Perfect for a sunny afternoon. Deserving of the red wine I drank a little later with my steak.
The main restaurant snakes along the river front so almost every table has a perfect view. The menu is simple but elegant collection of classic British dishes. And, Yorkshire Pudding with cheese instead of bread.
I started with pan fried scallops with black pudding, celeriac and apple, as recommended by the restaurant manager. Beautifully presented, I really enjoyed the home made black pudding and the perfectly caramelised scallops.
My companion’s duck liver parfait arrived looking excellent, but was unexpectedly warm and rather runny. While the taste was fine, the appearance was not quite so appealing and it seemed rather hard to eat.
Mains had to be steaks. Aberdeen Angus beef from Yorkshire, mainly grass fed, 35 day dry aged and professionally butchered. Now, I try my best to be well behaved, even when I’m ordering steak by picking the smaller and lower fat cuts. Although I couldn’t quite bring myself to order the ‘Ladies Cut Fillet’, I did order the 200g Fillet. It came with a classic accompaniment of field mushroom and grilled tomatoes and with my personal choice of tarragon butter (there are a range of sauces on offer). Executive Chef Gareth Bowen uses an American Montegue grill in his kitchen and is aiming to ensure Gillray’s serves the finest steaks in London. Mine was nicely flavoured, perhaps cooked slightly under what I am used to as ‘rare’ but, I’m quite happy to eat my steak blue or a point, so it wasn’t an issue for me.
May who was dining with me ordered a Rib Eye which is a MUCH naughtier steak – the succulence of the meat due to a relatively high fat content (about 15%).
I think we might just have over ordered side dishes. I was curious about the Baked Bone Marrow, which looked wonderful but in all honesty it was an ‘acquired taste’ that I don’t think I will be acquiring any time soon! Luckily May already HAS, so it wasn’t wasted.
We ordered sides of fries and English baby gem salad (I have a feeling we meant to order one of each). The salad comes with a rapeseed oil dressing which worked for me and is well intentioned as an ‘English’ oil but it’s worth noting because rapeseed oil is a bit like marmite and not to everyone’s taste.
And then, of course, there were desserts.
For me, flourless chocolate cake which was rich without being overwhelming and came served with just a little passionfruit puree.
May picked the sherry trifle, the house speciality. It arrived beautifully presented with sherry in a glass on the side and the trifle in a traditional jam jar. Sadly by then, the sky had darkened and filled with heavy grey clouds but the view was still amazing. And, we’d managed to spend three hours over lunch.
Marriot County Hall Gillray’s is the perfect location for lunch. Great views, a classic British menu of locally sourced quality ingredients. And, if like us you end up spending FAR too long over your steak dinner and the afternoon rolls into evening, well the bar is the perfect place to move on to for a Gin and Tonic. Or failing that, a very English cup of tea.
London Marriott County Hall Hotel
London, UK SE1 7PB