A night out at The Savoy Hotel mostly spent at Kaspar’s Seafood Restaurant. We could have started the evening with a cocktail at the world-famous American Bar or ended our meal with a night cap in the art-deco Beaufort Bar … keep reading to find out more about this wonderful central London gem.
It’s the only road here in the UK you can drive on the left. Yes, people. The Savoy Hotel on The Strand in the heart of London. You know you’re in for a treat in both luxury and service, at least, when you see the Lalique crystal fountain and top-hat doffing doormen at the grand entrance.
As you walk through the hotel foyer, the first thing you notice is the beautiful flower displays, and this is the start of many.
Kaspar’s is a wonderful seafood bar at the rear of The Savoy Hotel in London. For those not in the know, this London institution has hosted royalty and world leaders to legends of the stage and screen. If only the walls could talk, I’d be there for hours.
The legend of Kaspar
For almost 90 years the Hotel has offered dining parties of thirteen the company of Kaspar the Cat. Thankfully, not a real puss but a statue created by the architect Basil Ionides in 1926. Kaspar sits on ‘unlucky’ tables with a napkin around his neck, a full place-setting before him, ready to enjoy every course served. Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill is the former River Restaurant and named after the ‘cat’.
August is an expensive month for me; it’s my birthday and my Mum’s. She loves seafood, we’ve eaten at Kaspar’s in the past and sat at their art deco bar which takes up the middle of the huge room. This time, we’re treated to a table close to the River, at the back of the Restaurant, and get to glimpse the Thames through the huge trees which also provide a screen for the bedrooms above us.
Kaspar’s Seafood Restaurant
Champagne for Mum and me, the house is Louis Roederer (£18.50), so we were in great company. Mr settled for a glass of house white wine, La Loupe (£9.50), a white Grenache with white fruits and fruity notes which worked well with his starter.
Service here is attentive, not at all imposing. Our waiter Ryan always had the right answer to our questions and a lovely smile.
Gorgeous sourdough arrived with soft cheese and butter, brown and white.
The starters were superb, but after I scanned the menu, I knew that it would be a large main course. Mr was the only one who opted for a starter but boy what a starter
The lobster and crab bisque was everything and more (£18.00).
Mum chose the Fruits de Mer Platter (£39.00) for her main course. Sadly, my picture was blurry. A crushed ice platter arrived with four oysters, four huge prawns, white crab meat and two fat scallops. Mum ordered a side of skinny fries (£5.00). Excellent value.
I had the Atlantic cod fish and chips (£20.00) which is one of the tastiest plates of food I’ve had in a while. A huge piece of cod in the lightest batter had been fried and crisped to perfection. When cut large flakes of cod fell onto the plate, only to be stopped by a pea crush and thin whippet fries.
Mr chose Halibut, prawns and chorizo (£39.00) with a side of new potatoes (£5.00). There’s not much needed when you get the best quality products into your kitchen. As a chef, all you need to do is know how to cook them. And the chefs at Kaspar’s certainly have the skills. He fancied a glass of white wine to work well with the fish. A super crisp Domaine de l’Eglantiere arrived, a little steep at (£18.50) but Mr said it was well worth it and was the perfect compliment to his Halibut.
We looked at each other, beaten by the portions. No room for dessert.
There was, however, a Happy Birthday lollipop and a few iced bonbons which we managed to force down. I have no idea if Mum got it home in one piece, but she insisted on taking home her lollipop as a reminder of her beautiful evening.
The total for our meal, including 12.5% service (£23.38), was £210.38 (£61.00 was alcohol), which included free still and sparkling mineral water.
As we leave, we poke our nose into the shop and see the Chocolatier hard at work, beautiful works of art too by The Biscuiteers who have recreated the uniform of the mixologists at the world-famous American Bar and the Savoy Cocktail Book.
We say goodbye to the Hotel and Kaspar, the huge topiary cat, keeping an eye on proceedings outside his home.
Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R 0EU+44 (0) 20 7420 2111.
Panela is organic dried sugar cane juice, collected by crushing peeled sugar cane in a mill. Used in the place of regular sugar, it worked a treat in this squidgy, cherry and walnut brownie recipe.
Freshly harvested sugar cane is pressed in small Colombian family run farms known as ‘trapiches’, and the juice is cold-filtered, evaporated in a cauldron over a fire using the sugar cane husks as fuel. The liquid is boiled until it produces a thick caramel-like consistency where it’s poured into square block moulds to set. When it’s compact and solid, it becomes an essential kitchen ingredient. Ground into a fine powder it’s convenient for use on porridge, sprinkled on yoghurt and adds a rich, moist texture to baked products.
I compared the Panela with other sugars in the store cupboard, and it did come out on top, having slightly fewer calories and carbs than both granulated white sugar and unrefined dark brown soft cane sugar.
The results were excellent, and while chocolate brownies aren’t a great example of a low-calorie treat, the Panela did a good job where caster sugar was required.
This has walnuts; I know that Nigel Slater says nuts get in the way, but I like the texture. This recipe gives brownies with a thin crust, a centre somewhere between melted chocolate and bog mud, with walnut and cherry pieces for contrast. Making full use of the glut of cherries in season now.
Cherry & Walnut Brownie Recipe
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
225g Colombian Panela – I used Hasslacher’s
55g cocoa powder
75g plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or the microwave on a low setting to melt. De-stone the cherries and roughly chop them along with the walnuts. Stir into the melted chocolate. In another bowl, add the sugar, then sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well. Beat the eggs and mix in. Transfer the mixture to the tin, then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into squares.
So simple, so beautiful and fabulous for all seasons. I love this coleslaw recipe. I’ve just made a huge bowl for a barbecue and using Yogurt instead of mayonnaise it makes a welcome change. I use a hand-held Mandoline but if you do, always make sure you use the guard.
150ml Plain Goat’s Yogurt, I used Delamere Dairy
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, shredded
2 sticks celery, shredded
⅓ bulb fennel, shredded
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ white cabbage, shredded
½ red cabbage, shredded
1 small onion, grated
8 French Breakfast Radish
Salt & pepper
In a large bowl, shred your vegetables. Add seasoning and yoghurt and combine. It’s perfect served with these chicken wings.
If you’re a keen baker, you may know the name Selasi Gbortmittah. Selasi has been the most chilled-out contestant on The Great British Bake Off and he’s still baking and developing recipes. He’s teamed up with Coconut Oil brand, Vita Coco to share his top five barbecue tips and recipes.
As you’d expect, they feature Vita Coco.
The coconut oil is 100% organic, extra virgin, raw, cold-pressed and free from chemicals. It’s all-natural and can be used to fry, liven up dressings, as an alternative to butter and is perfect for the barbecue.
I made the chicken wings and my only regret was I didn’t make more.
Chilli, Coconut and Garlic Chicken Wings
Serves 4/20 wings
20 Chicken Wings
2 cloves of fresh Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2-3 tbsp Vita Coco
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 sprigs Parsley, chopped
2 mild chilli, chopped
Trim the chicken and remove any loose skin ends
Place the chicken in a large bowl and mix the garlic, chilli flakes, brown sugar, salt, pepper, lime and coconut oil.
Mix thoroughly and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge. Be sure to cover with plastic wrap. We added the red onion into the mix, instead of setting aside for decoration. I liked the onion cooked but it’s entirely up to you.
When you’re ready to eat. Prepare your barbecue and when it’s hot enough, grill the chicken for about 15-20 minutes, turning over in between the cooking time.
Plate up and top with chopped red onion, parsley and fresh chilli.
Corn on the cob with coconut, lime and paprika
4 corn on the cob
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Vita Coco Coconut Oil melted
I steamed my mini cob for about 6 minutes before adding to the grill.
In a medium bowl, mix the lime, salt, paprika and coconut oil. Brush this onto the corn, and add to the grill for 10-15 minutes, rotating often.
Serve when ready and nicely brown.
We later tried this on chicken thighs but it didn’t do as well holding the flavour as the wings.
What are you waiting for? Fire up the barbie.
Belinda Clark has turned her obsession with sweets into a business, spoiling us grown-ups with her pillow-soft, marshmallow goodies. For her it’s all about the flavour, thank the Lord, because I’m not sure if you’ve experienced the same thing as me, but I’ve tried a few ‘gourmet’ marshmallows which have all the texture without the taste.
Forget your childhood memories of eating pink and white marshmallows. These are a whole new experience, they’re soft, light and packed full of flavour.
Belinda began making her own products and in her second year she made three tonnes of marshmallows – that’s a lot of sweets. Understandably it was a little too much so she found herself a UK manufacturer, then a European manufacturer who now makes all her products by hand using high-quality natural flavours.
Her latest creation is the S’Mores Kit which contains hand made Salted Caramel Marshmallows, luxury almond biscuits and Belgian chocolate thins. If you’re unfamiliar with the S’more – it’s a traditional campfire treat popular in America. Fire-toasted marshmallows and a layer of chocolate are sandwiched between two crackers. Traditionally the Graham Cracker which is a flat, biscuit made with wheat flour and sweetened with honey. Belinda’s kits are nothing like the tasteless dry things I’ve had (and pretended to like) in America. Decent high-quality dark chocolate, thin almond studded biscuit and her quality marshmallows mean a sticky, sweet and indulgent treat. Small, compact, messy and fun. The good thing is you don’t have to be a kid to eat them either.
Where to buy
Sold online and through the online supermarket Ocado, you’ll see them in delis up and down the country. And, I’ll let you into a secret, she makes Marshmallows for the Queen’s Grocers Fortnum and Masons.