Simpson's-in-the-Strand  (9830 views)

Created for 19th-century gentlemen in swelling waistcoats with gold watch chains, Simpson's magnificent Grand Divan dining room - with its wood panelling, chandeliers and Liberty-print booths - continues to draw theatregoers and tourists (our waiter's 'How are you enjoying London?' was a giveaway). Beyond the opulent Victoriana, the great attraction is the much-photographed classic roast beef, carved at table on gleaming silver-domed trolleys by white-clad chefs. Yet if you don't have the beef, it seems there's little point going, given the lofty prices: alternatives we tried were unimpressive. A starter of baked goat's cheese with herby warm potato salad (more like a potato terrine) was pleasant but unexciting; duck liver pâté was smooth, but again lacking in distinct flavour. Mains were bland too: stuffed suckling pig overwhelmed by coarsely prepared, over-sweet red cabbage; skate with a spiced crust having little flavour beyond salt. The expensive wine list has high mark-ups and what almost appears to be a deliberate shortage of accessible options. Solicitous service from abundant staff adds to the experience, though it was annoying we needed to ask specifically for the set menu. A London institution that should do more to justify its charges.
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Location of Simpson's-in-the-Strand
100 Strand, WC2R 0EW
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