The company I work for organise a Christmas party for all of us on the contract. My team, however, usually have our own as we’ve always been kind of separate from everyone else.
This year it was down to me to decide where we would go. We like to eat and have a good drink so in past years we’ve been to a few different Chinese establishments. This year I wanted to do something different. Initially I wanted us all to go to Red’s True Barbecue and have their Christmas deal. Unfortunately I waited too long to book and couldn’t get a slot that suited us. Lesson learned!
I popped into Bookatable.co.uk and put in the time, date and amount of people and had a look at the available deals. This is how I found Gillray’s Steak House. 3 courses and a cocktail for less than £30 each. SOLD! The reviews were good too which helped make my mind up.
I’d booked for a 7pm seating so this gave us an opportunity to go somewhere for a few drinks first. My supervisor suggested we go to Zander at the Bank Restaurant at the St James Hotel.
What a fantastic bar it is! Having the title of London’s longest bar and easily living up to it, Zander is a great for drinks before going on to a meal or a show. They run a “happy hour” between 5-8 with a limited cocktail menu at £5 per drink. Obviously we took full advantage of this and tried several of the cocktails. There were some great options such as Brambles, Negronis and Aperol Spritzes but I most enjoyed the classic simplicity of the Bombay Gin and tonic. The perfect start to an evening out.
We took a brisk walk between St James and County Hall across the Westminster Bridge and arrived just in time for our seating at 7pm. Gillray’s is set inside the old County Hall building just across the bridge from the Palace of Westminster and it is stunning. They have a fantastic bar and the dining room is very tastefully decorated.
We were seated and provided with our cocktail; a fizz based drink with a few added extras which was a little sharp but tasty nonetheless.
The set menu we had gave around 3 options per course. As a table of meat eaters most of the table went for the ham hock fritters with homemade piccalilli. I wanted something a bit different so opted for a mackerel dish with new potatoes and horseradish. While everything on the plate was well cooked and delicious I could help but think that it would have benefited from a warm element, whether the mackerel or the potatoes. It just felt like it wasn’t quite what it could be.
For the main course everyone went for the ribeye steak, cooked to varying temperatures. I went for my usual medium rare whilst some went for medium and one brave soul had a rare steak. The steak was really good. Excellently seasoned and not a bad size. We did notice that even though we all had the same, there did seem to be a difference in the size of the steaks that arrived in the plate. I won’t complain too much though as mine came out a perfect medium rare. The chips were crisp and fluffy and the béarnaise was silky smooth.
There were a few options for dessert but when you see sticky toffee pudding and ice cream on the menu everything else pales in comparison. The pudding itself was wonderful. Managing to be light but incredibly comforting at the same time. One of my colleagues had the same and the others looked on enviously from their ice cream or chocolate mousse.
All in all it was a great experience at Gillrays. Their Christmas menu was very nice. There were a some touches I really liked, such as allowing each customer to pick their own steak knife from an ornate box. The staff were really attentive too. What I didn’t enjoy was the length of time we waited in between courses. Normally 10-15 minutes between courses is pretty standard. We must have waited up to 30 minutes between courses and the restaurant didn’t appear to be all that busy. It’s annoying but it wouldn’t put me off visiting again.That said, I probably wouldn’t go to Gillrays again, if only because there are so many more steak restaurants in London I have yet to try.
I’ll definitely be going to Zander again though. Whether it be Christmas, any other occasion or just drinks with friends. Keep it under your hat though as, in my opinion, it’s one of London’s best kept secrets!