Walking in London is one of my favorite things, followed, if not preceded by eating well in its many great restaurants. Today, London seriously competes with Paris as one of Europe’s gastronomic capitols as it once did over a hundred years ago when Cèsar Ritz and Augûste Escoffier opened hotels and restaurants in both national cities.
In the heart of London’s vast expanse, one may come across a small area known for its proximity to the West End theatres, great food and raw vegetables, known as Covent Garden, made most famous to Americans in the 1964 Audrey Hepburn/Rex Harrison film, My Fair Lady.
Walking through the popular open space, from King Street, headed south, on the left one sees the former Vegetable Market, now a pricey, touristy mini-mall I generally try to avoid, save for its architecture. Isn’t it a curiosity that when theatrical productions, actors or singers were bad, raw vegetables, often the remains of the market day, were thrown at them and in the midst of London’s theatre district was a vegetable market? The market, as it were, serving as a means to assure the reputation of great theatrical talent, and a protection against bad performances. Any bad actor knew he’d likely be hit with ‘rotten tomatoes’, another remnant of Covent Garden’s great history.Covent Garden, looking south, past St. Paul’s Church, towards Henrietta Street.
Just past the noble columns of St. Paul’s Church, commonly known as the Actors’ Church (where many an actor must have prayed — or hidden), one comes upon a small, fashionable lane known as Henrietta Street, filled with posh shops, luxury town homes and graceful architecture. Hang a right, cross Henrietta to the south side of the Street and soon you’ll happily arrive, in quicker time than I have, at the point of this discussion — Covent Garden Grill.Covent Garden Grill
The setting is stylish, sophisticated, simple and yet subtly seducing but the food — oh my, the food is simply spectacular. While it is a grill, and of course, a steakhouse, this is one of London’s best priced eateries where you not only will enjoy every single morsel of your meal, but will savor the service, the drinks and each moment of your experience.
I’ve eaten in London so many times and in so many restaurants that I can attribute half my abundant waistline to this great city. But for another meal at Covent Garden Grill I’d fly across the Atlantic and risk busting my britches. From the starters, salads and main courses to the delectable desserts and delightful cocktails, everything one can possibly enjoy there is memorable — without fail.
An impeccably trained staff attend, unobtrusively, to your every need, something one doesn’t expect often, even in London. My starter course — the Rustic Cured Meat Board (£8.95) was full of delightful flavors and choices, and served quickly. I may have looked a bit famished, but not a word needed to be said.
In America, they say, particularly New York, Chicago and Kansas City, are places to go for great steaks, so I had to find out — can Covent Garden Grill even compete? I had to try the 12 ounce Rib Eye (£18.95). As a New Yorker would say, “Damn right they can!” Yes, the rib eye was comparable to those I’d enjoyed in some of the best American steakhouses, and for me, that’s saying something for it’s one of my favorite cuts.
To be fair, I did return once more during my visit, and tried the English Lamb Chops (£15.25) which were outrageously fine and something I dare say very little in my reviews — as good as I make myself.
I love a good salad, but I couldn’t find one that could meet that low standard. The salads were fantastic – in particular the Spiced Poached Pear with Stilton and Walnut (£6.50) set my heart aglow. Incredibly delicious!
The Cheeseboard (£9.95) provided a perfect selection of fine English cheeses like Cheddar, Stilton, Camembert and Wensleydale paired with a fine Port and I was in heaven. Compliments to the server who looked at me with an inquisitive eye and just said “Port?” instinctively knowing that was my exact thought.
A few deep breaths and it was time to try the Apple, Cinnamon and Sultana Ice Cream Crumble (£5.95) accompanied by a cup of coffee. Words cannot describe the jubilation of my palate, so I’ll leave it at that.
This restaurant gets fantastic reviews all the time, each one an understatement of its superior qualities and the great experiences one can have there. If you’re going to London or you live there, make it a point to reserve a table and enjoy a blissful, worry-free meal served by a professional staff from a well-run kitchen.
Covent Garden Grill
16 Henrietta Street
Covent Garden Grill Restaurant Telephone Number: 020 7240 9600