Gillray’s…still going strong. Strong like one of their 1+KG ‘Bull’s Head’ steaks. None of that this time around, but they’ve got a brunch menu worth looking at (with lots and lots of champagne). We thought we’d head back and give it a try…
Modern European with traditional British touches aplenty
In a Word
What Is It?
Your choice of 2 courses served with ‘free-flowing bubbles’ (AKA ‘time limited infinite champagne’), every weekend from 12:00 to 15:00. It’s priced at £41 for a two hour period. Small sides are £5 extra each.
Top Quality Lunch Coma
Gillrays, eponymously named after the talented caricaturist and printmaker, creator of slightly demented social and political cartoons and all around fun guy. Anyone remember that drawing of Napoleon Bonaparte and William Pitt carving the world up? (“The Plumb-pudding in danger”). That was James Gillray. He was very famous in his day.
What can be said about Gillray’s steakhouse and bar that was not covered in exhausting detail in our previous, somewhat ridiculous, review of a few years back? Not too much – as far as I can tell, high standards have been maintained, no real changes have been made to the layout of the place, and it still boasts wonderful veranda views over the Thames.
The menu appears to have changed a little, but other than that, this paragon of luxurious British dining seems to have found a rhythm and a routine that appears to be working for it. We arrive for a relatively short stop to test this newfangled lunch menu on a surprisingly temperate afternoon in early October. It’s quiet and spacious, like you’d expect the interior of a massive listed building that was formerly the heart of London’s government.
Onto the main event…
From my experience, every meal at Gillray’s starts with Yorkshire Pudding (one per person). Unlike most Yorkshire puddings, these are full of a rather mild cheese, which is quite a wonderful surprise once you cut into it…
Try to eat the egg in one bite unless you’re keen on mopping up yolk everywhere (a respectable choice). Everything you want out of Eggs Benedict, perfect hollandaise. Immaculate, but tiny.
Gillray’s Steak Burger 280g
OK, whatever points Gillray’s lose for the previous tiny portion are regained for this. This is the kind of monstrous burger you feel that would be right at home at the likes of Dirty Burger or Shake Shack, except far more regal and British with its oak smoked cheddar and toned down English accoutrements.
Cauliflower & Truffle Bake (£5 extra)
A side of this arrives to accompany the burger, which, in retrospect, is not at all necessary. Perhaps it is because of the sheer size and flavour of the burger, this felt severely ‘underpowered – not particularly ‘truffly’ or well cooked. It’s good, but in the context of the order now seems pointless. I eventually finish it, still good.
As we’ve likely said too many times to count – if you visit a Marriott affiliated restaurant you are putting your money where your mouth is. These guys know how to do ‘luxurious’, and you will be expected to pay a price for it.
What I do like about the Marriott restaurants is that, although the food and service have always been of a certain calibre, they don’t tend to get snooty about the whole thing. Put another way, they retain the ‘fanciness’ without too much of the pretence.
This is reflected in a clientele of usually casually dressed people and staff who are polite but not deferent in that way they are in some high-end restaurants (…and the inevitable awkwardness that results when you put a lower middle-class man like me into the mix.).
This lunch is a very strong option for hungry and affluent tourists, who want a quintessentially British and (possibly) very boozy lunch. I hazard a guess that most the people dining here are tourists and guests of the hotel, though I could be wrong. I say this because, despite how good the food and drink is here, many Londoners I speak to have never heard of, let alone been to, Gillrays. Which is their loss, I suppose.
Depending on the courses you choose, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to walk off such a volume of lunch (I suppose the alternative is to fall asleep in the Marriott County Hall, but come on, life’s too short for that).
To be honest, there are some points lost for the characteristically high price (…you get what you pay for) and what seems something of a discrepancy in portion sizes between what are equally priced dishes. But, all in all – stand up food in a sit-down restaurant. If you have the budget and the inclination, treat yoself.
If you have the budget and the inclination, treat yoself – and make sure you skip breakfast…
Gillrays’ Steakhouse & Bar,
London Marriott Hotel County Hall,
Westminster Bridge Road,