Simpson’s in the Strand launches new ‘Bill of Fare’ inspired by menus throughout its 19 decades of history

Landmark restaurant Simpson’s in the Strand is one of London’s best-loved culinary institutions and this October, newly appointed Master Cook Adrian Martin has delved into its history books to create the latest ‘Bill of Fare’.

Under Adrian’s culinary guardianship, the restaurant’s next chapter will reflect upon the steadfast dishes of its 190-year history, exploring how our eating habits have changed throughout the decades, and recovering dishes, techniques and ingredients that were once commonplace. With the expert guidance of Susan Scott, The Savoy’s archivist, Adrian has explored the restaurant’s library of historic menus dating back to 1913, when Mock Turtle Soup, Saddle of Mutton, and Madeira Jelly, was the order of the day. With curiosity and respect for the restaurant’s history, the new ‘Bill of Fare’ will revive dishes from these treasured menus, cherry-picking from forgotten flavours and enduring heritage dishes and weaving them into a modern menu that is sympathetic to contemporary tastes, while continuing the legacy of the restaurant.

Examples from the menu include:
Cream of lobster soup, chervil cream cheese | £12
Traditional duck and pork terrine pie, pickled vegetables and mustard | £14
Dressed Dorset crab, celeriac remoulade, melba toast | £18
Tongue-in-cheek | Salted ox tongue, crispy cured ox cheek, horseradish mash, beetroot relish | £24
Calf’s liver and bacon, mash, whisky and smoked bacon jam, melted onions, sage | £28
Roast Yorkshire estate grouse, game croute, bread sauce, game chips, braised red cabbage, game jus | £35
Spiced apple fool, cinnamon crisp, candied hazelnuts | £11
Jaffa cake slice, orange and Grand Marnier cake, chocolate mousse, blood orange sorbet | £12

Simpson’s in the Strand is renowned for the theatre of its roasts; during its founding years as a chess club, the roast was silently wheeled to the table on a silver-domed trolley to ensure that the chess player’s concentration was not impeded by the clatter and clamour of service. The dining spectacle continues today; diners watch as the original antique carving trolley is wheeled table-side and the Master Carver slices 28-day dry aged beef or Saddle of Welsh Lamb. Adrian is also reinstating the Cheese Trolley which was once integral to the dining experience at Simpson’s; a selection of English cheeses will be wheeled to the table and served with quince paste, fig and sloe gin loaf, crackers and ploughman’s chutney. In January 2019, Simpson’s in the Strand will launch a ‘Trolley of the Day’, which will feature a changing daily special such as Manchester Hot Pot or Kentish Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pie.

Simpson’s in the Strand is a bastion for impeccable British produce and, shifting with the seasons, its modern ‘Bill of Fare’ will emphasise the specific provenance of each ingredient such as Romney Salt Marsh Lamb, Orkney King Scallops, Chalk Farm Salmon and Kentish Cobnuts. Over the forthcoming year, the menu will draw from Adrian’s roots; his personal stories of childhood spent in Kent – memories of fruit picking and the summer months or sprout cutting on the farm during the winter – will meld with the restaurant’s illustrious history.

Fondly praised by its patrons, the restaurant is steeped in countless noteworthy stories: Dickens, Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle all dined at Simpson’s regularly and the Grand Divan crept into their fiction, providing a backdrop to many literary encounters. Dining at Simpson’s in the Strand lends elegance and gravitas to life’s milestones and stories. For 190 years, celebration suppers, business lunches and treasured family gatherings have all been held within Simpson’s historic walls. Simpson’s in the Strand is testament to its illustrious past and a cherished experience for generations to come.


Adrian Martin

In August 2018, Simpson’s in the Strand was delighted to appoint Adrian Martin as its new Master Cook. Adrian has been a firm fixture in the London restaurant scene for the past 36 years and been at the helm of some of the finest London establishments. He began his career as an apprentice chef at the Dorchester in 1982, where he learned classical cooking under the highly-esteemed Maître Chef des Cuisines, Anton Mosimann. Adrian then joined Mark Hix at Mr Pontac’s and subsequently at Le Caprice and The Ivy. Since then he has honed his craft at Scott’s of Mayfair and as Executive Chef at private members club, Home House. 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.

History of Simpson’s in the Strand
In 1828, Samuel Reiss opened the Grand Cigar Divan on the site of the Fountain Tavern, which had been the home of the famous literary association, the Kit Kat Club.
The establishment soon developed as a coffee house and chess club, where gentlemen smoked cigars with their coffee, browsed over the daily journals and newspapers, indulged in lengthy conversations about the politics of the day and played chess, sitting on comfortable divans or sofas.

In 1848 Mr Reiss was joined by noted caterer John Simpson. Together they enlarged the building and renamed it “Simpson’s Grand Divan Tavern”. Thanks to the quality of the food, wines and beers introduced by John Simpson, the restaurant became a firm favourite with London’s epicureans. John Simpson introduced the practice of wheeling the large joints of meat on silver dinner trolleys to each table and carving them in front of the diners. Chess-players could then be served at their tables, without interrupting the game.

In 1898 Richard D’Oyly Carte, the man behind The Savoy, acquired Simpson’s, as part of a larger Savoy project to expand the hotel on the Strand side. Simpson’s was closed in 1903, for redevelopment as part of The Savoy’s East Block, and re-opened in 1904, entirely rebuilt, under the name Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, Grand Divan Tavern.

Redesigned in 2017 by Robert Angell Design International, the restoration of Simpsons in the Strand paid respect to the heritage of this stunning historical building. A brush of lightness was brought to the Grand Divan dining room and the retention of the original ceiling and wall panelling has preserved the restaurant’s distinctive character. The original chequerboard mosaic entranceway is a nod to the heritage of Simpson’s as the home of British chess, while modern inflections in the Grand Divan, such as dark green banquettes and ruby red dining chairs are combined with mirrors and crystal chandeliers to create a truly magnificent space.

Simpson’s in the Strand, 100 Strand, London, WC2R 0EW
T: 020 7420 2111 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @Simpsons1828
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