Elegance Overlooking the Thames
Distinctive Art Deco flair, excellent service and good food makes Kaspar’s at The Savoy an indulgent spot
Review by Rupert Watkins
There is something wonderfully seductive about an evening at The Savoy. The very name conjures up a potent mix of Art Deco elegance, Hollywood glamour and a chance to leave real life at the door. The Savoy has so many iconic areas; the Savoy Grill, the American and Beaufort Bars, that it can be all too easy to overlook other lesser known gems in the building. Kaspar’s at The Savoy is one of them.
Named after the hotel’s Basil Ionides’ designed sculpture of a cat who has been keeping tables of 13 diners company and free of bad luck since 1927, Kaspar’s overlooks the Thames (it was in a former life the River Restaurant). Laid out round a marble topped central bar, the room is low ceilinged, with mirrored walls with inlaid sycamore detailing, Kaspar’s central chandelier with its abstract patterns also tips its hat to Ionides’ feline creation. A mixture of thick carpet and typically 1920s black and white tiling makes up the floor; over all there is a distinctive Art Deco flair to the restaurant. Whether lunching with the sun streaming in and views of the Thames or in the evening with the atmospheric night lights of London winking at you, it’s an indulgent spot to dine.
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There is an emphasis at Kaspar’s on fresh seafood, the central bar and counter is used to show off the mouth-watering selection of shellfish and smoked fish. As well as an a la carte menu, Kaspar’s also does a set pre and post theatre menu. Having met my guest in calm of the hotel’s foyer, we were swiftly shown to our corner table, we had chosen the set menu so we perused the card and the restaurant’s extensive wine list.
A well-balanced selection of dishes, the set menu offers three options for each course plus a cheese alternative for those who lack a sweet tooth. All of the starters, Loch Duart Salmon, quail breast and goat’s curd all sounded equally delicious and after much debate and bartering my guest went for the goat whilst I opted for the salmon. My guest’s goats curd came with bull’s blood and pickled beets. Light, subtle and not overpoweringly pungent it whetted the appetite. I headed north of the border to enjoy the salmon. Served with a dill and mustard emulsion and root salad, the salmon was beautifully fresh, falling apart when being cut. The emulsion was lightly toasted also containing poppy seeds thus giving a little zing and eastern edge to this dish.
Given we had decided on differing fish and meat main courses, we decided to go for wine by the glass. Kaspar’s wine list is wide ranging and well balanced with some show stoppers lurking in the hotel’s cellar as well as less wallet straining wines by the glass. Vintage and non-vintage Champagnes, English Sparkling Wine and Burgundy Grand Crus take the eye though the two of us eventually settled on glasses of 2014 Spanish Muga Reserva and a 2016 Domaine de l’Eglantiere Chablis. Both were delicious and rounded drinking matching our respective meals rather well.
Moving onto the main course and my guest had gone straight for the Guinea Fowl with Foie Gras, macademia nuts and winter vegetables. The fowl was pink and gamey being served with a decadent slab of Foie Gras. The nuts provided an earthy complement to the richness of the dish. I opted for fish and went for the Cod with spelt, Cornish forage and brown shrimp nage. A light but rich dish due to the nage, the cod was fluffy and fresh – falling apart when I took a fork to it – and the shrimp nage offered a sweet counterpoint to the nutty fish. We shared a couple of side dishes, duck fat and rosemary chips and brussels sprouts with chorizo, the chips being perfectly crunchy and the sprouts working with both our fish and game dishes.
The courses are well-judged, rich but not too large, so you don’t feel like you’re straining halfway through the meal. Which is a good thing as Kaspar’s deserts are a memorable end to any meal. The spiced plum pot with Amaretto and cinnamon Madeleines was polished off very quickly, the nuttiness of the liqueur working well with a very English fruit. The warm Madeleines were utterly delicious eliciting near groans. I could see why, one test crumb and I was keen to swipe one. However, my own dessert, milk chocolate and mandarin mille feuille hit the spot meaning no desert theft was needed. Rich, decadent, with a zing from the mandarin pieces and with toasted hazelnuts melding nicely with the milk chocolate.
The set menu at Kaspar’s has recently been refreshed, the kitchen is focusing even more on quality of produce and traceability working with the hotel’s suppliers. The new menu and any consequent updates aim to be inspired but not limited by the English seasons. Enjoying a post prandial Armagnac and Single Malt whilst relaxing in Kasper’s soothing surroundings, it was clear that at £36 for two and £42 for three courses, Kaspar’s set menu is a very reasonable way to revel in a slice of the high life.
Enquiries: Kaspar’s at The Savoy, The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EZ / Dining reservations 0207 4202111 / www.fairmont.com/savoy-london/dining/kaspars/