Posted on Monday, 29th September 2014
Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar offers an oasis of calm from the hordes of crowds hovering around the aquarium and The London Eye. The restaurant is part of the Five Star London Marriot Hotel County Hall and is located on the South Bank. With its wonderful location, it offers spectacular views over the River Thames, Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament.
The building in which the hotel is housed was once the home of the Greater London Council. The building is resplendent and still holds onto the glamour of a historical city building. Gillray’s décor is classically English and is in keeping with the look of a County Hall building.
There’s a cosy bar at Gillray’s where afternoon tea can be taken. The views from here are really good as well and there’s also a plentiful array of beverages including some eclectic cocktails such as Gillray’s molecular take on a pina colada (£13). Fresh pineapple is caramelised in a flame of Navy Rum and then shaken with Flor de Caña and pineapple juice before being finished off with a coconut foam and a chocolate twist. The Gilray’s pina colada was amazing, with a light refreshing taste and none of the heaviness of the more traditional pina colada recipes.
Along with the à la carte menu, Gillray’s also serves an Autumn Market Menu which was really reasonably priced at £20 for two courses and £29 for three courses (and includes a cocktail of the bartender’s choice after dinner). The options on this menu were more limited, but what was offered sounded really good. We therefore mixed it up, ordering from both the a la carte and the Autumn Market menus (the squid, duck and brownie are all from the latter).
Pan-fried scallops with braised salsify, rhubarb and blood orange (£11.50) was pleasant with the sweet acidity from the fruits pairing well with the scallops.
But the far better starter was the buttermilk squid with a spiced mayonnaise. The buttermilk crumb was a smidgen over seasoned, but was otherwise excellent. The squid was really tender and the mayonnaise was a good match for the squid.
A serving of rib-eye (£27) unfortunately arrived at our table well done. We had ordered medium rare but Gillray’s quickly replaced this with a second piece which was perfect. The steak was tender and tasty, and the sauce that we chose to go with it, the red wine and bone marrow jus, boasted of a good flavour and richness. However it could have done with a little more reduction. We also went for some triple cooked chips (£3.50). They weren’t bad but should have been far crunchier for chips that go through three cycles of cooking.
Pan-fried Barbary duck breast was perfectly cooked and paired with a moreish slow-cooked leg fritter. Accompaniments included some nicely charred onion and a pleasant London Honey jus. Also on the plate were some creamed peas that were tasty but a little over cooked.
But the highlight of the meal was surprisingly the Montgomery cheddar cheese Yorkshire pudding served with a horseradish cream. Gillray’s serves the Yorkshire in place of bread and this was truly delicious, especially with the yummy melted warmth of the cheese at its centre. The batter was also excellent with a light springy texture.
To desserts, and a traditional sherry trifle containing layers of sponge cake, red berries, custard and freshly whipped cream (£8) proved to be a decadent treat. To eat this dessert you start by unwrapping and opening the jar of trifle, digging a hole through the thick cream and pouring a glass of Sherry into the jar to soak into the sponge cake at the bottom. It was really good and pretty boozy.
The dessert from the Autumn Market Menu was a peanut butter and chocolate brownie, roasted peanut ice cream and salted caramel. The brownie was well made and moist and there was a good saltiness to the caramel.
We enjoyed our meal at Gillray’s which began with the wonderful pina colada cocktail and was boasted in no small part by the amazing views. The service was splendid and we enjoyed the well-rounded cooking. Particular highlights included the Yorkshire pudding and the trifle, both of which are not to be missed. The Autumn Market Menu also offers great value.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 4/5
£28 to £62 for three courses from the a la carte menu.
£20 for two courses and £29 for three courses from the Autumn Market Menu.
Excludes drinks and service.