Kaspar's Seafood Bar & Grill opens at the Savoy today, but who is Kaspar and what is his association with the hotel that merits having a restaurant named after him?
The story starts in 1898 when a party of 14 was due to dine at the Savoy; however, one person pulled out and they were left with 13. One very superstitious guest made the macabre prediction that death would befall the first person to leave this table. The host of the dinner and South African diamond magnate Woolf Joel was not one to pay much attention to superstition, so he took the gamble and left the table first only to wind up shot dead a few weeks later.
The Savoy clearly didn't want any future parties of 13 experiencing similar tragedies and insisted that all such parties must have a 14th guest. Initially it was a member of staff but they eventually arrived at a less awkward solution by commissioning a sculpture of a black cat who would sit at the table and ward off bad luck, named Kaspar.
To mark the restaurant's opening, they've commissioned artist Jonty Hurwitz to create a sculpture as an homage to the legend of Kaspar. We came across Hurwitz's work at the Kinetica Art Fair earlier this year and were mesmerised by his sculptures. He uses 3D printing and mathematics to create stretched out shapes that seem abstract at first, yet snap into focus when reflected in a metal cylinder.
The restaurant itself is also worth seeing as it's magnificently designed and the light fittings in the central bar are particularly impressive. As for the food, it's both of a quality and a price you would expect with the Savoy. Though we recommend the selection of cured fish with the peppered monkfish a stand out choice.
On your way out, make sure to spend some time with the vast panorama of the Thames by David Downes in the lobby. It commemorates the Diamond Jubilee flotilla and was painted from the roof of the Savoy.