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Along with Rules (est. 1798) and Wiltons (1840), 189-year-old Simpson’s comprises a holy trinity of Empire-era, Rule Britannia British dining. It has just re-opened after a spruce-up, and entering the stained-glass and tiled lobby is like stepping into the booking hall of a gothic Victorian railway station. The dining room itself (or ‘Grand Divan’, to give it its proper title) is even more of a spectacle, a Grade II-listed showstopper of lustrous wood panelling and wedding-cake plaster moulding, oil paintings and leather banquettes, illuminated by chandeliers (there is no natural light) and, minus the cigar smoke, immediately recognisable to former patrons Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill. The food (from a British ‘bill of fare’ rather than a French ‘menu’) has been gently updated for modern appetites, losing some of its trencherman appeal along the way. A prettily presented pulled ham-hock salad, artfully arranged beef Wellington and a light gooseberry trifle all seemed aimed more at guests from the neighbouring Savoy (of which Simpsons is part) than Billy Bunter-ish City gents, although gently warmed potted shrimps to spread onto toast and sirloin with a slab of mushroom were in the comfort food tradition of old. And we were surprised that for a restaurant that prides itself on its trolley service (roast beef and Yorkshire pud, cocktails mixed tableside), the cheese selection turned out to be five pre-plated slices, presented without explanation. Overall, with Simpson’s-branded mustard and horseradish available to buy on the way out, we left with the impression that this is heritage-trail dining rather than a piece of living history.
Best Sunday Roast restaurants in London
Best Private Rooms: >30
Charing Cross Tube Station 409m
Covent Garden Tube Station 412m
Savoy Theatre 50m
Lyceum Theatre 96m
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
I was recommended to try this place when I moved into London a few years ago, and finally I made it!
We enjoyed the atmosphere, service was good although the staffs seemed to struggle in taking care of many tables, because of popularity by tourists – lots of requests to help them take pictures etc.
It was enjoyable, food was good, and it would have been perfect if the bill had been not as big.
Food + drink: 5
Simpsons on the Strand – i have been going for about 12 years and it is definitely a mixed pleasure.
As I watched the extensive refurbishment of the Savoy (Simpsons is next door) i couldn't help hoping they would rip out the interior and refurbish this part as well. Simpsons opened in 1828 and I would guess they don't want to spoil the success story.
PLEASE DO – the booths are very narrow and the seating tilts you forward so you feel you are sitting on the useless pads as you enter the London underground tubes by the door. The dinning room is laid out like a big mess hall at a posh boarding school (which most people haven't been to – including me).
So why go? The roast beef is the best anywhere in the world. Seriously – we skip starters, keep the bread rolls to a minimum and dive straight into the best roast beef you will ever eat. A nice bottle of red and you must try the horse radish – it is made on site and again the best i have ever had. One exclusion to the above is we sometime have the oysters as well – very fresh.
Service – there is one old Italian chap who hobbles along with the meat trolley (they bring it to your table and offer you your favourite cuts). He makes the whole visit worthwhile and obviously has been there for a long while (I have not seen him on last couple of visits so hope is ok).
In case you haven't got this from my review – I would crawl over broken glass for this roast beef! They do need to work on the interior – I would rip out the whole lot and put in comfortable and more spacious booths and tables.
I will still go, and still bemoan the Ye Olde décor and still dive head first into that beef.
Food + drink: 2
This was planned as a special dinner after seeing a show on a Saturday afternoon. Expectations were high (as I think they should be) in anticipation of quality ambience, food and service.
Not a cheap meal… 3 courses, glass of wine with starter and dessert. A bottle of red accompanied our main course.
Starters and desserts were ordered from the a la carte menu with beef from the trolley for main. Baked potatoes were in fact boiled (supposedly roasted in goose fat). Bread & butter pudding was as good as a home brand supermarket ready meal. All used glasses were still on the table when we left after coffee. Service was indifferent.
A number of emails have bounced back and forth after our Simpsons experience. Management have agreed that each point I raised was worthy of their attention. Since our experience, the Restaurant Manager has told us he has inspected the ‘roast’ potatoes and sent a number of serves back. The bread and butter pudding had undergone a re-vamp.
The poor level of service was disapointing given the number of staff on the floor that evening.
The gamble is not worth it to pay £100+ per head for a complimentary glass of champagne that was offered via the last email received. It's disapointing that such a grand building and the fine reputation built over many years is currently missing the mark in the fine dining market place.
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