The historic Simpsons-in-the-Strand restaurant, part of the Savoy group, reopened its doors this week after a complete refurbishment, (its first since 1903). The restaurant is one of the oldest in England, an institution of all that is British. It was a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill among other esteemed patrons.
It was important that the restoration be executed in a style sympathetic to the historical importance of the space, whilst appealing to a new generation of diners. The redesign has introduced new features to adapt to a more relaxed style of modern dining. Long seating banquettes, new lighting and subtle finishes retain a sense of history and Englishness. At the same time, new tricks of the trade such as mirrors, colours & reflections have been cleverly introduced by Interior Designer, Robert Angel.
Many iconic features have been preserved. Not least Winston Churchill’s famous table, which remains in the same location, next to the fireplace at the far of the restaurant. Another iconic feature of the restaurant is their famous carvery trolleys. It is thought that the first carving trolley came into being here. In the 19th century, Simpsons was considered the most important venue in Britain for chess. Since many of the restaurant’s patrons were chess players, Simpson introduced the practice of wheeling large joints of meat on silver dinner trolleys to each table and carving them in front of guests. The practice rapidly caught on as it created a unique dining experience that enabled chess players to continue their game with minimum interruption.
While games of chess have become less of a feature nowadays, Simpson’s popular carvery trolleys have remained. Heritage Collection lovingly restored the trolleys as part of the overall refurbishment project, creating two lovely trolleys from the best bits salvaged from seven original trolleys. Martin McDonagh, owner of Heritage, commented on the work:
“The trolleys needed to retain their authenticity, however they were using heating techniques from 100 years ago. We refurbished the old silverware & installed a new heating solution, adding gas burners to ensure the trolleys were compliant with current health & safety requirements. To make the old brass wheels fit for modern day purpose, we had to get a North-sea oil company to bond rubber to the original wheels!”
Martin presented the restaurant with a special set of steak carving knives, created exclusively by Heritage Collection as a gift in recognition of the long-standing relationship between the two businesses.
Thanks to the trolleys restoration, Roast meats can now continue to be carved at patron’s tables, just as they were in Victorian times. The carvery trolleys will remain a feature, creating a dramatic yet practical way of adding a touch of theatre to a high-end dining experience for years to come.
Heritage prides itself on the high-quality tableware products it designs & manufactures. It recently refurbished another carving trolley for the Grand hotel in Brighton. The company continues to supply carving trolleys, and other luxury tableware, silverware and dinnerware to top end establishments wishing to offer the best dining experience available.
Faithfully restored and back in their rightful place.