The Glorious 12th is the official start of Britain’s grouse shooting season. The most popular area to find red grouse is in the Scottish highlands. Extreme cold weather conditions in Scotland this year, sadly, postponed the start of the hunting season but despite this unfortunate plight, luxurious restaurants around the country still upheld this Victorian tradition. The opportunity to experience the Glorious 12th arose at one of London’s landmark restaurants, Simpson’s in the Strand. Located at 100 Strand within the grounds of The Savoy Buildings, with diners to likes of Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes, Simpson’s is one of the oldest restaurants in London.
Situated within number 100 is the Grand Divan dining room that has been recently restored after 189 years along with the Knight’s Bar. The Knight’s Bar recently introduced cocktails inspired by British gardens and orchards. The night began with a cocktail named The Fig; it was made from fig liquor made by Knight’s Bar, verjuice, walnut bitters, cocchi americano and The Ridgeview Cavendish that is the signature sparkling wine.
Our hosts escorted us into the Grand Divan where all the magic happens. Walking into this astonishing dining room was like stepping out of new London and majestically entering the 1800’s, I could picture Winston Churchill dining next to us. The walls were covered in oak, and the seats clad in red leather and the beautiful glow in this newly restored “banquet hall” made the ambiance relaxing. Now seated we were presented with the Bill of Fare.
The meal began with a beautiful plate of Beetroot Cured Loch Salmon with Avocado Puree and Pickled Cucumber. This delightful starter was light and refreshing with zings of the tartness from the cucumber, the salmon was perfectly sliced, and the texture was very tender but filling. Up next was the Traditional Roast Yorkshire Estate Grouse, served with braised cabbage, liver pate, bread sauce, toasted breadcrumbs, games chips, and, let us not forget Grouse Gravy. Most definitely a meal fit for a king or queen!
The grouse arrived at our table, famous to Simpson’s style, via trolley. As mentioned earlier, with the adverse weather in Scotland where grouse are typically hunted, Yorkshire was where these birds were obtained. Nevertheless, the game was cooked to perfection, thanks to the watchful eye of Chef de Cuisine, Adrian Martin. The evening ended with a British classic, the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was sticky, sweet and a very filling end to the meal.
Simpson’s offers more than just this glorious grouse. Patrons can experience the most exceptional quality and locally sourced seafood, meats, game, and vegetables. The restaurant accommodates theatregoers with early dinner menus and also caters to young diners, and of course there is the famous delicious roast carvery for those wanting the full experience.
Simpson’s in the Strand