Harden's survey result
“The revamp seems to have done them good” at this legendary temple of traditional British cuisine (with origins back to 1828) – and most famously roast beef – which finally seems to be re-emerging after many, many years in the doldrums. Yes, it can still appear all too touristy and expensive, but “the iconic building still has a lot of atmosphere”, and its “olde English staples” receive very much more consistent praise since its refurb – “it is one of the rare places in London where you can get traditional carvery on a trolley which tastes good!” Perhaps in keeping with the story of renewal, new chef Adrian Martin (who previously oversaw Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar) took over as chef from William Hemming in August 2018.
After too many years in the wilderness, this “tired war horse of British cuisine” underwent a 10-week revamp in summer 2017 in a bid to restore its “faded elegance”. Having been consigned in recent decades to tourists and breakfasting businessmen, it remains to be seen whether its legendary trolley-service of roasts will cease to “trade on its historic reputation”.
This “lovely period dining room” is renowned as a bastion of the best British cuisine (most famously Roast Beef) but its performance can seem “sad” nowadays. For “the best breakfast” it does win praise (“for business or pure indulgence”) but more generally it seems “old-fashioned” and lacklustre – “a once-famous, busy and respected restaurant that’s been devastated and left to a handful of tourists”.
“Pity the tourists who go believing it's the home of real English cooking!” – this famous temple to Roast Beef is “a shadow of its former self”, with “sloppy” staff serving “school dinners” in a “gloomy” chamber; for a business breakfast, it’s just about tolerable.
Since first opening as a chess club and coffee house in 1828, Simpson’s has provided an elegant backdrop to historical meetings, literary debates and momentous meals of all kinds, and is now marking itself out as one of the city’s landmark restaurants.
Having undergone restoration in 2017 to bring this Grade II listed building back to its former glory, Simpson’s in the Strand now features a reimagined Bill of Fare that brings the classic British cuisine, for which it has become so well-loved, up to date.
Showcasing the finest seasonal ingredients and quality produce of the British Isles, the menu features long-standing favourites such as steamed Steak & Kidney suet pudding and hearty Lord Woolton pie, alongside salt-baked Lincolnshire beets and hand-dived Scottish scallops, and larder staples like Gentleman’s Relish, Pease Pudding, and Potted Shrimp.
During the founding years of Simpson’s as a chess club, meals were served beneath silver-domed cloches and silently wheeled to the table on an antique trolley for minimal disturbance to chess player’s concentration. Today, guests can choose daily from 28-day dry Roast rib of Scottish Beef or Daphne’s Welsh Lamb, carved at the table by the Master Carver, and served with Savoy cabbage, beef fat roasted potatoes, gravy, horseradish sauce and Yorkshire pudding.
Adrian Martin - Master Cook
Adrian Martin is Master Cook of Simpson's in the Strand, bringing his culinary prowess and kitchen mastery to an establishment steeped in British history and culture. Adrian brings a new lightness to the menu with the signatures of his technique showing an uncomplicated reverence for seasonal ingredients, and contemporary flair applied to well-loved British classics.
A firm fixture on the London restaurant scene for 36 years, Adrian began his career at The Dorchester in 1982 under Anton Mosimann before moving on to establishments such as Le Caprice, The Ivy and Scott's of Mayfair. In 2003, Adrian returned to his Kent roots to open his own restaurant, Right on the Green, near Tunbridge Wells. He then returned to the London restaurant scene as Executive Chef for the Birley group, overseeing Annabel’s, Marks Club, Harry’s Bar and assisted with the opening of the Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch in 2017.
Simpson's in the Strand Restaurant Diner Reviews
"The revamp seems to have done them good. It's still old-fashioned, but in a good way, and caters better for vegetarians: the Woolton Pie is excellent. Perhaps best for lunch."