The Savoy Grill reviewed
Saturday, January 08th , 2011
You would be forgiven if you had missed the opening of Grand Imperial at the Grosvenor Hotel in December, an ambitious Chinese restaurant from a Malaysian restaurateur. Although open now a month I gather that the publicity for the restaurant has yet to happen. With £2 million spent on refurbishment the room looks elegant, but the cooking on my visit was rather erratic. This was generally competent Cantonese cooking, but the price tag at the end seemed to me rather steep for the level of the cooking, though the service was certainly very good.
Somewhere with no shortage of media attention has been Dishoom, an all-day Indian café in Covent Garden. This has been smartly designed (pictured), and I confess to having been a little unsure as to whether the clever packaging might be at the expense of the food, but in fact I was quite impressed with the dishes I had this week. Desi fish fingers were tasty and malai tikka also well made, and it is so nice (and rare) to see romali roti bread on a restaurant menu in the UK. It is doing very well commercially, and deservedly so.
The newly refurbished Savoy Grill delivered a generally capable meal this week, with particularly good desserts (though there was one technical error with a rather overcooked halibut dish). This was a much better experience than my inconsistent meal last week at the River Restaurant. My only real issue with the Grill Room was the size of the bill relative to the quality of cooking. For the same money (or less) you can undoubtedly eat better in London, but the lure of the Savoy name appears to be drawing in plenty of diners based on the evening that we went.
Yauatcha (younger sister of Hakkasan) is just as consistent and smoothly run as its sibling. Tables are quite cramped, but the long all-day dim sum menu is very appealing, and above all the consistency of cooking here is impressive. Steamed dumplings such as the prawn har gau are as well made as any in London, while the char sui buns are terrifically fluffy. This week the best dish was a magnificently cooked slab of halibut with cabbage and chilli, the fish having beautiful texture and flavour. Service was as silky smooth as ever. It was interesting to compare the dazzling halibut here with the flawed version at the Savoy Grill.
Alexis Gauthier seems to be settling down well in his Soho billeting, and delivered some excellent dishes this week at a lunch. For £25 for three courses including amuse bouche and pre-dessert, as well as bread made from scratch, this was a bargain. My previous meal here was between 5/10 and 6/10 in the early days soon after opening, but the cooking seems steadier now and I have nudged the score on the web site up to 6/10 to reflect this.
In other news it seems as if the inhabitants of the USA may soon be able to enjoy the delights of haggis, which has been banned in the USA for many years.
I am pleased to be able to extend the series of chef interviews with one from John Williams MBE, head chef at the Ritz, where I had a superb meal recently.