Saving Simpson’s will crown King’s career

Jeremy King, the doyen of London restaurateurs, is to revive the legendary Simpson’s in the Strand next year as the third step in his audacious return to the industry – a year after his bitter exit from Corbin & King, the company he built over more than 20 years.

Established in 1828, Simpson’s was – in Jeremy’s description – “London’s last grande-dame restaurant” until closing its doors three years ago, and a fire sale of its fixtures and fittings three months ago appeared to seal its fate. Among the lots sold were the legendary silver carving trolleys that brought an array of roasts to each table; it is not known whether Jeremy was a bidder.

Simpson’s has been owned for a century by the adjacent Savoy hotel, and Jeremy says “the prospect of restoring it to its former glory is the apotheosis of my career“.

Under his plans, the main restaurant will be downstairs with another upstairs, a basement bar and a private dining room. The atmosphere will be that of “a big-theatre brasserie,” he says. “But one that will very much hark on its tradition. I want people to walk in there and say, ‘Oh good, they haven’t changed it’, although it will have changed.” 

A steady trickle of information has in recent months ensured maximum publicity for Jeremy’s comeback and shown that – at 69 – he is as full of ambition and energy as ever.

His other revival has a more personal angle, given that he has taken over the lease of Le Caprice, where he and former partner Chris Corbin cut their teeth as restaurateurs in their 20s. The name will be changed to the Arlington, but it will be Le Caprice in all but name, serving favourites from the menu including “bang bang chicken, salmon fishcakes, tomato and basil galette. For an old customer, it will feel emotionally nostalgic to walk back through the door,” Jeremy says.

The first of his three to open next spring will probably be The Park, in a new building on Bayswater Road, opposite Kensington Gardens. Although it is a new restaurant, it too will have a retro feel. He says: “The cooking will have its roots in California in the Seventies, chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse with just a touch of American diner, and there will be lots of booths.”

This time around, Jeremy has secured financial backing from multiple investors, having been badly burned by the hostile takeover of Corbin & King by its majority shareholder, Thai-based Minor International, which has now renamed it The Wolseley Hospitality Group. 

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