With a vantage point overlooking the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the River Thames; it’s fair to assume that Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall could well and truly rest on their five-star laurels, safely in the knowledge their quintessentially London views are enough to pull in a discerning crowd without any extra assistance. But we all know what they say about people who ass-u-me incorrectly, eh?
Entering through the main reception, the first impressions you’ll have are of course, grandiose. It’s a top London five-star hotel after all. However, I was guided through to Gillray’s (after later finding out there’s a direct entrance from the Southbank) to find a much more relaxed, though still befittingly luxurious vibe. Inspired by the drawings of quirky English caricaturist, James Gillray, you'll see various pieces of his work hanging proudly throughout the venue. Stylish, spacious and elegant, the bar oozes an exclusive vibe, but at the same time is not pretentious. Among a genuinely unique interior, the bar and restaurant are lined with tall windows looking out on the Thames and the London Eye.
I was also taken on a quick tour to the gorgeous private library, which hosts various functions throughout the week and enjoys a backdrop of the iconic Big Ben and clock tower. Literally every window you look out from you see another famous London landmark. One of the best views from dinner in London? It’s definitely up there.
The Food and Drink
The food, oh good god the food. As you can probably guess, the cuisine at Gillray’s is firmly centred around prime cuts of premium steaks. The menu is diverse, indulgent and well-thought out. On the recommendations of our knowledgeable waiter I started with pan-fried scallops with black pudding, before tackling 200g of melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef steak with a tarragon sauce, with a modern-take on the English favourite sherry trifle to finish. All three courses were absolutely delicious, but naturally, the steak stole the show. Not content with just dribble-inducing food, the drinks offering at Gillray’s bar is enviable to say the least. Stocking just about any gin you can think of, with a healthy amount of whisky featuring there too, the menu is also well equipped with an arsenal of bespoke, signature cocktails expertly concocted by the bar’s dapperly-dressed barmen. The English Pony comes well recommended.
Ambience & Clientele
Despite being located in a top London hotel, Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar is open to the public, who can come for a drink at the bar, or make a reservation to eat in the restaurant. This undoubtedly contributes to the warm atmosphere at the venue. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, the ambience is chilled, and the food and drinks are amazing. What’s not to be happy about? We were lucky enough to experience Gillray’s on a Thursday night; their weekly live jazz evening, where they invite a resident jazz-singer and acoustic accompaniment to play a relaxed, cool and contemporary set to Gillray’s bar. Suffice to say the vibe was as pleasant as it was buzzing all evening.
I came away from Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar positively stuffed and in good spirits. From the chipper staff to the gorgeous food, the tasty drinks to the chilled-out Jazz, every part of the evening was lovely; it really feels like they go above and beyond to offer the best experience they can to any of their guests visiting. Cocktails, killer views of London, a copious selection of gin and sumptuous meat too? I love you Gillray’s, I truly do.