Gillray’s Steakhouse, South Bank

Classic steaks and river views

The Vibe
There’s something about having to walk through a bar to get to a formal dining room that always loosens up a dinner date. It would be rude not to pit stop for a quick – and impeccable – Vodka Martini before moving into the grand yet rather homely Gillray’s steakhouse. Part of the London Marriot County Hall, the restaurant requires some finding but once you have you tend to stay in the lofty room for a very long time. River views? Check. Impeccable wine list. Yes please. Surprise Yorkshire pudding to serve as an amuse bouche? There’s simply no messing about.

The Order
It’s an AA award winning steakhouse so you’d be a fool to order anything but. Until we saw a couple almost fighting over the last lamb chop, and a nearby group of friends going to town on a pulled pork burger. Food wise, we regained focus and went for light starters – 12 divine Cornish oysters and poached pear with stilton- followed by steaks. Marrow comes as standard on the plates, and sauces to suit. Add a poached Clarence Court brown egg for a rich topping. Puddings should be skipped on dates to avoid falling asleep but if you’re defiant the chocolate pot is something. Choosing wine involves being charmed by a handsome Spanish waiter who proclaims not to be a sommelier but knows the grape inside and out. The wine was a 2015 Salentine Malbec and frankly the best I’ve had in a very long time.

The Game
It’s a classic case of dress up, over consume and end up back in the cocktail bar till midnight. The clients ranged from low key American families to attractive young ladies in bandeau dresses who are hilarious to play ‘chat about strangers’ with. Ask for a table near the tall windows so you can have the last of the sunshine streaming over the table, watching the rays go down with the last of your bottle. Romantic summer walk and pavement snog obligatory.

The Faults
Like any hotel, a very mixed crowd so the cool credentials come from the decor and funny Yorkshire pudding touches.

Sex Factor
4. Solid first date territory for those who favour formality over Soho speakeasies.

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