A Steak With A View | Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
Sometimes only a proper steak dinner will do and it was Gillray’s that rescued me from an enforced fortnight of soup and salads. We have had to be very careful with our food recently, due to a plethora of redundancies at my day job (including my own) there’s been a series of naughty lunches and extremely boozy nights. My jeans were beginning to get just a little too tight for comfort and my liver and I were on the verge of a serious falling out.
But a visit to Gillray’s steakhouse and bar was just too much of a temptation – especially after I caught a glimpse of their cocktail list. Situated at the Marriott Hotel in the old Greater London Council building, the interior decor was a lot better than I expected.
Then again, as it’s a listed building, the can’t do much about that anyway. So thankfully the wooden panelling and parquet floor remained virtually untouched. Our marble-topped table was simply set – no tablecloths, no fuss, just what we like. The steakhouse is named after James Gillray – the famed caricaturist of the late eighteenth century. Called the father of the political cartoon and you can see why with plenty of his satirical prints hanging on the walls.
But it’s what you can see out of the windows (especially from the bar) that makes Gillray’s special. It’s situated slap bang next to the Thames with some of the most iconic views of the London Eye and over the river to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. And it not a tourist trap either – although my friend and I did sit next to a table of Americans discussing their gun collection.
Their menus feature locally seasonal produce at its best the majority sourced from within 150 miles of the restaurant using Kent and Essex based farms. And I say menus as they have a couple to choose from. Afternoon Tea (from £34), the full Mains & Steak Menu and the brilliantly valued Market Menu (only £29 for three-courses plus the bartender’s signature cocktail).
The Market Menu was exactly what we went for, at that price we’d be one rib short of a rack not too. Plus those signature cocktails (£12 if ordering from the drinks list) were just too tempting. I couldn’t resist the Not Fit For Liberty – bourbon and calvados infused with apricots, tonka beans and cinnamon. A sweet and spiced twist on an Old Fashioned – a drink hard to beat but this did come very close. Kate (my diner guest in Saff’s absence) was curious about The Jubilee – gin infused with rhubarb and ginger jam, shaken with fresh lemon juice and mint – a fresh, zesty cocktail.
To start we both went fishy – not just because we knew the mains were going to be big (we’d seen the steak being delivered to other tables) but because every diner gets a ‘secret’ pre-starter. A crisp golden Yorkshire pudding with a filling of melted cheese and served with a cute dinky pot of creamy chive dip – now that’s how to start a meal.
Back to the starters proper, I had a delicate and beautifully presented Cray Fish Cocktail – served with sliced avocado, wafer thin shaved fennel, marinated tomato and dots of basil infused sour cream. Kate’s Atlantic Salmon Tartare with chicory, spring onion salsa was equally as impressive – so light, so fresh and with incredible flavour combinations.
Whilst Kate’s Salmon Tartare was subtle, her Gillray’s ‘Steak and Chips’ with Béarnaise sauce was as obvious as a two hoofed kick from a cow. Cooked perfectly medium rare, as requested, the quality was undeniably high and the O’Shea’s 200g sirloin steak packed a real meaty wallop. The chunky chips were sprinkled with a salt and vinegar ‘dust’, be careful though even the tiniest amount is enough to make your eyes water.
I stuck with the meat too and ordered the whooping 400g Pork T Bone and one of the most tender and moist pork steaks I’ve had since Chop Shop back in 2013 – especially when compared to my tough, dry attempts. Served with a smooth and creamy smoked potato mash, sweet caramelised pear and a pot of Tiptree barbecue sauce.
Before dessert, we treated ourselves to another cocktail each. An Uncorking Old Sherry for me, a rocket fuel mix of Greenall’s sloe gin, cherry brandy and sherry that’s been aged in a barrel tucked away behind the bar, topped of with a dash of sweet vermouth and bitters. Kate went for a much more ladylike tipple, Bubbles of Opposition (£9.80) – a simple yet elegant pairing of pomegranate liqueur and Prosecco.
Kate made no hesitation when picking her dessert – Strawberries & Cream with champagne sorbet with a biscuit crumble. Again the presentation was stunning, quartered strawberries and cream sprinkled with gold leaf (‘edible’ as the waiter helpfully pointed out – well I should hope so too) and a sharp Champagne sorbet all set within a near perfect circle of strawberry coulis. My dessert was a little less intricate but the Coffee & Biscuit wasn’t as simple as it sounded. Coffee and chocolate mousse with blackberry, blueberry and cocoa nibs served in a glass under a fancy crumbly shortbread biscuit and ice-cream hat.
The evening absolutely flew by, we left nearly four hours after we were seated. A sure sign of great company, brilliant cooking and relaxed and unhurried service. Had we more time we would have stopped off for a night-cap in Gillray’s bar and sample some of its range of 120 gins. Now, when wandering along by County Hall, we know exactly where to go for either an amazingly good valued set meal or a cheeky little gin – about time too.
Visit their site here
Gillrays’ Steakhouse & Bar,
London Marriott Hotel County Hall,
Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB
Telephone: 020 7902 8000
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 6.30am – 10.30pm
Weekends 7.00am – 10.30pm
Nearest station: Waterloo (6 mins walk), Westminster (7 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Gillray’s, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.