Simpson's opened as a coffee house and chess club in 1828, welcoming a roll call of great Britons through its doors, from William Gladstone to PG Wodehouse. Follow in their footsteps to the Grand Divan, a panelled dining room with chandeliers, crisp white napery and a resoundingly best-of-British ‘bill of fare' – ozone-fresh oysters, calf's liver with dumplings, devilled Barnsley lamb chop, summer pudding with clotted cream and much more. You might also find more exotic plates of curried lamb shank or crispy scallops with lightly spiced lentils, but the undoubted star is still the ‘superb roast beef' aged for 28 days and carved at the table from a silver-domed trolley. However, recurring gripes about ‘indifferent' and ‘patronising' service need to be addressed if this national treasure wants to avoid becoming ‘a national embarrassment'.
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