Simpson's-in-the-Strand is one of London's most historic landmark restaurants. I visited it recently to celebrate a family birthday with cocktails in its Knights Bar. Swinging into it's grand hallway is like going back one hundred years to a time when gentlemen smoked in private and the ladies dressed to please. It's interior has a gloom that reeks of old British values, but gloomy it isn't. You leave behind the manic bustle of the Strand and find yourself in a quiet and dignified British oasis that belongs to a different era.
Simpson's opened it's doors in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house called 'The Grand Cigar Divan' and soon gained a reputation for being the 'home of chess', attracting top players,including Howard Staunton, the first English world chess champion. Momentoes from its days as a chess haven can be seen throughout the building.
The Grand Divan restaurant serves fine British ingredients served in typical British fashion, including the best beef and lamb that is wheeled to the tables in antique silver domes and cut at the table. This practice originates from the days of chess when they didn't want to disturb the chess players.
The Knights Bar on the first floor is a beautiful nod to the arts deco movement. It possesses a quiet glamour that demands cocktails and we were only too happy to oblige with a perfectly made Whiskey Sour, a raspberry mocktail, G&T and French Martini.
Going to Simpson's is like stepping back in time - glamourous, timeless, epitomising all that is Britishness at its best; I can't wait to go back - for dinner!