Historic Savoy Restaurant To Close After 187 Years

Ben Norum
By Ben Norum Last edited 37 months ago
Historic Savoy Restaurant To Close After 187 Years

Old school: Simpsons-in-the-Strand

London could be set to lose one of its oldest restaurants, as The Savoy reveals that the lease is up on its 187 year-old Simpsons-in-the-Strand restaurant.

Simpsons opened in 1828, making it either the capital’s third or fourth oldest surviving restaurant. It’s beaten by the similarly named Simpson’s Tavern in the City and Rules in nearby Covent Garden, and sort of by Wiltons which opened in 1742 — more than 35 years before the USA was founded — but didn’t move to its current location in St James’s until 1964.

The British restaurant specialises in meat and its signature dish is beef on-the-bone, wheeled around in a silver trolley and carved at your table. It would be the same dish which was the focal point in the days that the space was frequented by names including Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, George Bernard Shaw and Charles Dickens.

The agents operating on behalf of The Savoy, Davis Coffer Lyon, have confirmed that they are looking “to find someone to operate the restaurant as a chef or to go in with their own operation and brand”, and that the hotel will not insist on the new operator keeping the Simpsons-in-the-Strand name — or indeed anything else of the existing restaurant.

But is this really such a bad thing? Despite its heritage, the verdict is out as to whether Simpsons-in-the-Strand is actually any good. It’s certainly been a fair while since it was a significant player on the capital’s restaurant scene, and we reckon that outdated and overpriced are fair descriptors.

Though the agents are tight-lipped about exactly what they’re after to replace the old fella, it sounds to us like the iconic hotel is after a fittingly iconic restaurant — probably one with a big-name chef attached to it.

As the team there will be aware, London’s hotel restaurants have upped their game significantly in the last few years — going from tourist traps to hotspots — and The Savoy hasn’t been a part of this.

Last year alone saw high-profile openings in the form of Chiltern Firehouse at the hotel of the same name, Simon Rogan’s now Michelin-starred Fera at Claridge’s and Jason Atherton’s Typing Room in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. Other successful pairings between top hotels and big-name chefs include The Dorchester with three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse, The Berkeley with two Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and the Mandarin Oriental with über chef Heston Blumenthal.

A spokesperson for The Savoy told us:

"Simpson’s heritage is possibly its most prized asset. There is little doubt that this will be one of the most alluring qualities for any investor, along with the grade II listed elements of the building itself. As such, we expect it to continue to be an enormous part of its future."

We’ll have to wait and see what becomes of the site. Will Ramsay try and make a hotel comeback two years after leaving Claridge’s? Could a big-name chef from abroad see this as an opportunity to make their London debut? Or maybe the hotel will want to earn some cool points by becoming home to a popular residency serving small plates and truffle-laced sliders. Maybe whoever takes over will even decide to keep the restaurant’s historic name and run it as a posh carvery — you never know.

See our list of London’s 10 oldest restaurants which you can still try, which includes Simpsons-in-the-Strand — but might not for much longer.

Last Updated 26 January 2015

Eddie Johnson

Terrible news. The food is still wonderful, the best beef ever, all this nonsense of designer chefs none of them as good as my old mum despite the gushing columns in the magazines and the celebrification its all smoke and mirrors, none of them can make a decent bacon sandwich.

Steve O

Tragedy. High class steak and kidney pie followed by oozy treacle pudding and custard, followed by a week in a health farm. Sadly I can't see some Continental type serving that up no matter how many stars. What a loss

Bill Tomlinson

An institution how can it let go they must be mad, it is one of the iconic eateries in the capital let's hope it does not fall victim to trends and fashion

Hugh

Only been there once but the memory lingers, more so than any other eating house. It would be a disgrace to lose it.

Ed

I see the above accuses it of being overpriced. Wait until you see the prices introduced by the new owners. Will make current meal prices (which are excellent value) look like pocket change...

Shaun

A travesty if it does, I'm just glad I introduced my boys to the experience of a Simpson's breakfast a few months ago.

Carole

I first went to Simpsons as a teenager 45 years ago and the excellent ambiance and superb food has remained a constant in a changing world -surely this is something that the owners should capitalise on and promote with some positive marketing-not destroy. Anyone can create a trendy restaurant, but it wont last as fashion will change and move on -Simpsons MUST remain
Campaign to make it stay

Martyn Shepherd

Tragedy. It would be a huge loss if Simpsons was to close. It is neither outdated or overpriced. It is an essential part of London and an outstanding Restaurant.

Glenn V Holmes Tasker

Desperate news, yet another place sacrificed for fashion which will be replaced with a venue for the frantic " must be seens " .

I read a triumphant and highly insulting article from the Telegraph dismissing the venue and those of us who choose to dine at Simpsons.

Poor taste but typical of the sneering, twittering twits who hold sway.

It only proves the saying that life is similar to a day at a swimming pool with all of the noise coming from the shallow end.