In a country that has taken slices of oven-cooked cow to it's heart and built a weekly event around it, Simpson's-In-The-Strand is the mecca of roast beef. It accounts for over half of all main dishes served and, during the times of rationing, Simpson's was meat-free for one day per week but potato-free for four. There are few foods so closely associated with a specific time and day so it was not unusual for us to find ourselves on Sunday morning at Simpson's for one of their carvery masterclasses.
Kicking off at the civil time of 10:30am, the General Manager Stephen Busby gives us a brief humorous history of the place from it's days as the international centre of chess through to it's current conjoining with its neighbour the Savoy Hotel. Sommelier Lionel Lachasseigne gives us some inside tips (go for Grenache over Châteauneuf-du-Pape) while orders are taken for 11am sharpeners. Genial giant Gerry Rae, Master Cook takes us through his approach to cooking and carving, casually scattering commandments as he slices up joints of beef, pork and lamb. "Let the meat rest for as long as it has cooked, " is one. For turkey and chicken, he suggests removing the wishbone: "it'll ruin the kids' Christmas but will make carving much easier." We then get a chance to practice on the meats, nibbling on slices as we go, before a grand tour of the kitchens downstairs where we get to see trays of yorkshire puds and cauldrons of gravy-in-the-making. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share tips with our fellow students who, with their guests, had a chance to show off their newly-acquired skills at the the post-masterclass lunch.
The expertise on show here is amongst the best in London. This is an excellent course if you're looking for a confidence boost ahead of Christmas Day turkey carving responsibilities or you want tiptop advice on year-round roasts.
Classes cost £155 and take place on Sundays throughout the year. For reservations, please call Teri Olson on 020 7420 2478. For more information on Simpson's-In-The-Strand's gift experiences, see here.