24 July 2014

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The Savoy Grill reopens – Stuart Gillies interview


Stuart_Gillies_2.jpgHow will the relaunched Savoy Grill compare to its former guise under Marcus Wareing, before the hotel’s refurbishment?
It’ll be so different. That wasn’t my thing, really, what Marcus did. I don’t want a temple of gastronomy; I want a big, buzzy room with great food and great service. It’s more like a big, elegant brasserie now – you can pop in for one course, a glass of wine then go. I’m not scared of the term 'brasserie' because I think they can be done superbly.

The hotel relaunched on 10 October. Why the delay reopening the Grill?
The delay with the hotel’s refurbishment was frustrating at times – we were ready [with the concept] 18 months ago. But when we finally got the date for the hotel opening – the 10th of the 10th – there simply wasn’t enough time for us to get the contractors in to get the room sorted.

Certain elements that the Grill is set to include – table service and trolleys – are few and far between now in the capital. Is there still a place for them in the competitive London market?
There are certain rooms in London that are crying out for the old-school revival, and this is one. We’ve got a beautiful interior here styled on the 1920s and 1930s, and it’s a perfect fit.  Table service is something hotels can do because they have the space. It died out a bit because it got tired; chefs found it unexciting and customers found it boring. But the theatre of it can be great – it’s something they do really well in Paris. We’re keeping it short and snappy – customers don’t want to see a waiter carve a whole chicken, they want to watch for a minute, tops, then get back to their conversation.

It’s been a tough year for Gordon Ramsay Holdings – especially with the coverage afforded to it in the press – has it been easy to get your head down and work on the Grill’s relaunch?
Savoy Grill NEW - 2_anders_101123-0015_gr.jpg There’s always publicity in a company like this. I’ve known Gordon for 20 years and he has always done his thing and I’ve done mine. Our styles gel really well and he’s given me a job to do here at the Grill. Whatever is going on outside the restaurant’s door, I couldn’t care less about. I’ve got my head down here and the blinkers on and it doesn’t matter what’s in the press – I owe it to the company and to the magnificent room we have here to get this restaurant just right.

The Savoy Grill, The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R 0EU; 020 7592 1600. For a full review, click here.

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