Fancy a bite to eat in the same place that Elizabeth Taylor loved to dine or where Winston Churchill would take his peers?
To celebrate Bookatable’s Feast on London festival, which celebrates the city’s diverse dining scene with special menus, exclusive events and offers, we’ve got the lowdown on some of the oldest restaurants in London – and what to eat when you’re there.
Savini at Criterion (est 1873)
Built in 1873 by the same architect who built the Royal Albert Hall, Thomas Verity, The Criterion’s restaurant features a neo-Byzantine dining room and a long bar complete with gold ceiling, marble columns and impressive chandeliers.
Fast forward to 1909 where the restaurant hosted many afternoon tea meetings organised and held by Christabel Pankhurst as part of the women’s suffragette movement. A decade later the restaurant was also the backdrop for several heated discussions between Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George.
On the menu: The Italian heritage of the restaurant means only one thing – an authentic, Italian menu. Expect signature dishes like veal ossobucco with saffron risotto, and pappardelle with wild boar ragout and juniper sauce. Click here to book.
The Savoy Grill (est 1889)
The Savoy Grill is dripping with history; from old Hollywood starlets to celebrated political figures it has always been the place to see and be seen. Amongst the glitterati who frequently dined at the Savoy Grill were Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe.
On the menu: Look out for the seasonal signature menu featuring dishes from the original chef’s time in the kitchen back in 1889. For a truly unique dining experience, book the Kitchen Table, where you’ll get a front row seat of the chef and team in action. Click here to book.
Homage at The Hilton Waldorf (est 1908)
Since The Waldorf’s debut in 1908, the hotel has survived two world wars, taught London to tango in the 1920s, and has seen countless stars of the stage and screen walk through its doors.
Today’s Homage Patisseries used to be a smoking room and men-only bar while the Palm Court still has many of its original features, including the chandeliers, balustrade, a famous clock and original floors - you can still see scratches on the marble floor from all the dancing that went on in here. In 1913, the first of many tangos was performed in the Palm Court, scandalising Edwardian society.
On the menu: Think a glorious grill menu of hand-cut steaks from Scotland’s Buccleuch Estate and packed with fresh, seasonal produce. Click here to book.
Gillrays Steakhouse & Bar (est 1929)
Work on the impressive six-storey building of County Hall, designed by 19th century-born British architect Ralph Knott, began in 1909. During construction of the building, excavations uncovered the oak timbers of a third century Roman ship. Parts of the ship were taken and later carved for the Chairmen of the Council’s ceremonial chair, while the remainder of the ship is now on display at the Museum of London.
The foundation stone was laid in 1912 by King George V and Queen Mary, however the First World War delayed the construction, and it was 1922 before the King returned again with Queen Mary to declare County Hall officially open.
On the menu: Steaks are the speciality here, but those partial to a tipple will love the cutting-edge cocktail menu plus the 120 different gins on offer. Click here to book.
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