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|Address:||The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EU|
|Tel:||020 3551 9858|
|Price: £61.00||Wine: £25.00||Champagne: £59.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-3pm 5.30-11pm Sun 12N-4pm 6-10.30pm|
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Head Chef Andy Cook presides over a supremely efficient and accomplished kitchen with the calm confidence of a five-star General. As someone who knew the former Grill well, I was curious to see whether the culinary standards would be maintained. They have been surpassed. I started with an old favourite, oeufs en cocotte (better than ever), and followed it by an outstanding braised halibut with curly kale, anchovies and fingerling potatoes in beurre blanc. Superb. The halibut was perfectly cooked, moist and succulent with the kale adding a judicious tang. I ended with a custard millefeuille with mango that was perfect in every respect. The patisserie was crisp, the custard exquisite and the mango of a flavour and consistency that impressed even someone who grew up in the tropics. The wine list is almost as good as in the old days although there aren't as many good bottles under fifty pounds as there used to be. One cannot simply blame inflation, so I recommend that the sommelier make a heartier effort. I also missed the old bound wine list that made such delightful reading. The current list is presented on a large card, which I found way below former standards although the selections were well described if a bit dumbed down for clients who should know their wines.
The staff is unflappable, wreathed with friendly smiles and overseen with great competence by the outstanding Restaurant Manager, David Carter. David deserves great credit for maintaining a touch of class while adding a spadeful of youthful enthusiasm. He is not just a manager but an impressario who can conjure the special occasion with a sense of theatre that is nevertheless filled with warmth and natural charm.
So much accomplishment must be accompanied by a suitable environment and this is sadly where the new Grill seriously disappoints. The decor is effective despite touches of the Gatwick Travelodge (lacquered walls) with a hint of the Holiday Inn in Dubai (sumptuously ugly light fixtures). There is a more open feel and a view out of the windows, both of which are great improvements. The worst detriment, however, comes from the diners who were generally badly dressed at dinner with most of the men in shirtsleeves and without a tie. This would have been unthinkable in the former Grill and is seriously detrimental to the atmosphere. The superlative cuisine and the outstanding caliber of the restaurant staff deserve the highest praise but also respect. It is therefore sad to see such caliber taken so lightly by a dressed-down clientele. They demean the efforts of these professional men and women and besmirch the traditions of a world-class institution. A well-enforced dress code is sorely needed before the Grill gets the feel of Quaglino's on a Saturday night.