Named after James Gillray, the 18th-century social and political caricaturist, Gillray’s Restaurant & Bar offers its guests not only beautiful views of the London Eye and Houses of Parliament from its South Bank location, but a quintessentially English dining experience with English beef from Yorkshire, an impressive collection of Gin’s as well as professional and attentive service. This elegant venue sits within the Marriott Hotel County Hall where classy chandeliers and yellow Chesterfield sofas added to the nice and casually sophisticated atmosphere while smooth background music settled us in perfectly for a relaxing Sunday lunch.
Once we navigated our way through the Marriott Hotel, we entered Gillray’s Bar, where we took advantage of their incredible selection of over 100 gins (not that I want to imply that we have tried all of them, if ever so tempting). I have to admit I completely succumbed to gin’s revival with G&T nowadays being one of my favourite aperitifs. It is exciting to see how different botanicals are added, all matched with high-quality tonic water.
Alex who looked after us at the bar introduced us to three different gins that were new to us, namely, Half Hitch, Ophir and Brockmans of which we chose the latter two for our G&Ts. Fever Tree’s Aromatic Tonic Water nicely complemented my husbands choice of Indian spiced Ophir gin which was garnished with cinnamon sticks & orange slices while Franklin & Son’s Natural Indian Tonic Water together with a garnish of fresh berries was used to create my G&T with Brockman’s Gin.
After our drinks, we moved to the restaurant which I managed to photograph before the arrival of other lunch guests. It is a gorgeous, airy dining room, filled with natural light from the large windows that overlook the river Thames, with some of London’s most iconic landmarks just outside.
We both ordered a glass of white wine for our starters – a glass of Geyser Peak Chardonnay, California 2016 for my husband and a glass of Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2015 for myself. (On Sunday’s & Monday’s it is also possible to bring your own bottle of wine for a corkage of £5).
Instead of a bread basket, we were served Yorkshire Puddings that had a lovely cheese centre, accompanied with horseradish sauce – it was a nice twist on a traditional English favourite.
My husband’s meal started with these delicious and perfectly cooked pan-fried scallops, served with garden pea puree, mint and an intense & rich smoked bacon jam, beautifully presented on light blue stoneware.
I am usually tempted to go for scallops as well when I see them on the menu, however, my eyes caught The Capel Down Red Wine Poached Pear with whipped English Stilton and toasted pecan nut dressing which was the perfect combination of autumn flavours – I just loved every component of this dish!
For our mains, we switched to full-bodied red wine – a malbec and a pinot noir
While we waited in anticipation of our steaks to arrive we had the opportunity to select a knife each, brought to the table in a wooden box – something we’d never seen before so was a nice addition to the meal. The service, in general, was impeccable with Katie and João looking after our every need.
Their selection of Aberdeen Angus beef comes from Darragh O’Shea butchers, dry aged for 35 days, it can be ordered both on and off the bone. My husband chose the rib eye off the bone in medium rare which was cooked just as ordered. The plate comes with marrow as standard together with a few roasted tomatoes and sauces and sides to choose from the menu.
What I particularly liked about the menu was that it included a ladies fillet of 150g as I often struggle with larger quantities of meat and I wish other restaurants would have this as an option as well. It was perfectly cooked to medium with a light pink centre.
As sides, we both had their triple cooked chips plus their roasted carrots which had a wonderful crunch to them.
To round up an excellent meal I ordered English Breakfast tea to accompany the dessert that was about to follow.
Their signature traditional sherry trifle with ‘Tiptree’ fruits is a real show stopper. Beautifully layered into a preserving jar where an extra long spoon is used to carefully create an incision to the lowest point before sherry is added to be soaked up by the sponge at the bottom of the glass. It was a real delight to eat the dessert, cutting through all the layers while sipping on the remnants of the sherry that was thoughtfully placed right next to it.
Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar, London Marriott Hotel County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB (The restaurant can be accessed via the Marriott Hotel County Hall, just off Westminster Bridge or from the entrance on Queen’s Walk).
We were guests at Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar – opinions as always are my own.