With a glossy new film launched last week, currently you can’t move for Gatsby references. For those craving a slice of the roaring 20’s, Kaspars, the new seafood restaurant at the Savoy will fit the bill nicely ‘old sport’.
There is a river view, but there are no brooding green lights blinking across the Thames here. An seafood bar dominates centre stage and everything drips in marble, mirrors and chandeliers. This a dining room where thrift on the decor was not in the remit. Outside we maybe in the grip of a sluggish recession, but safely ensconced in the Savoy, it’s business luxe as usual.
Kaspars is named after the cat, the sculpture the Savoy keeps, should you and a 12 party turn up; lest there be a table of 13, an extra place is made up for Kaspar. Yes, I openly harbour a desire to dine with him too, anyone keen to make up the numbers? It’s a good story and it makes you wonder why they never thought of the moniker sooner. In 2010, after an extensive refurb, the restaurants at the Savoy have maybe struggled to win the plaudits . The Grill soldiers on with considerably more bling than before and keeps its end up, just about. Yet in spite of the money spent, the River side restaurant went practically unnoticed – cue a glam relaunch.
As the smoke filled cloche is lifted away by our waiter a brown shrimp and eel cocktail steals all the points for theatre. Yet that smoke leaves an acrid, artificial edge to some beautiful seafood. I’ve read similar grumbles elsewhere, so whatever is being used to create that smoke, change it would be my advice. Otherwise a great starter that surely is set to be a signature in the making.
A fine foie gras parfait, but it comes on a wooden board- groan with cumberland sauce in a mini kilner pot. Come on, this is the Savoy! Look at the room, this is the Savoy, not a gastropub – food on boards?? It just feels all wrong.
A lobster club sandwich is great , save for being served again on a bread board.( I’ll say nothing). At £25 you might be able to get more bang for your buck at Burger and Lobster; then again you would have to endure the total unpleasantness of trying for a table there. As an aside I’ve tried twice – never again. The last time we were seated and then… well it all got too much and we walked out free of regret.
The Dover sole complete with its griddle branding is deftly filleted and infinitely better than much of the competition. A muslin wrapped lemon and a caper butter sauce complete the deal. What’s more since it costs the same (in fact £2 less), it would completely embarrass the Hawksmoor Air Street ‘s very so so efforts. All that said, in my heart I still prefer the sole at Scotts. Cooked on the bone, immaculately filleted table side, with a sauce meuniere – it is never bettered, full stop.
In hindsight the real stars of the show are the seafood platters. If I was returning, it would be for these, they look as impressive a fruits de mer as you could wish for and perfect to share at the bar.
The peach melba ice cream sandwich had been taken off the menu the night before. Slightly unbelievable, it can’t have been on there more than 3 weeks. I voiced my disappointment too, though probably too much as I was later told. It sounded and still sounds an interesting take on the Savoy classic and to couple my clear distress our waitress told us it was, or more accurately, had been delicious. (go on get it back on chef).
So I got talked into a very decent tart tatin – decent not amazing though. A very good Strawberry and Elderflower cream propably won’t be to everyone’s taste. The rhubarb crumble faired better, but I was still thinking what might have been. On the whole desserts still need some tweaking. Oh for that Ice cream sandwich it could have all been so different.
Service, which had been until that moment clipped and attentive, if a little uptight, then fell off a cliff. The petit-fours were forgotten and the struggle to get our bill paid turned vaguely into a farce. Not a glorious finish.
So some niggles . Some may ask whether the edifice is indeed just smoke and mirrors an echo of the darker elements of those roaring 20’s. I think its a work in progress and they need to relax a little bit. Those creases will, in time, be ironed out. I’m sure it’ll win fans and detractors in equal measure and our cousins across the Atlantic will, no doubt, love it.
As we left Russell Brand prowled, lurked and lounged in a corner sofa, a sign of things to come? ….Kaspar would have approved.
Despite the misgivings in fact our favourite PR girl has since returned for a repeat visit. She confirmed the seafood platter excellent and the great and the good already installed. So now you know.
Kaspars, The Savoy.
Reassuringly expensive (bread and water till payday now).