For almost 90 years The Savoy has offered dining parties numbering thirteen the company of Kaspar the Cat. It’s a tradition that began when South African diamond magnate Woolf Joel died shortly after a dinner for 13 guests at the hotel in 1898. Embracing superstition, the hotel started bringing a statue of Kaspar the Cat to tables of 13, complete with napkin and full table setting. Woolf was actually shot dead in Jo’burg, so his demise had little to do with his supper. In any case – The Savoy has a whole restaurant devoted to his legacy, and it recently had a refit. You still get the Cat if there are 13 of you. But tonight, it’s just three …
Karen Krizanovich: I had my last honeymoon here at The Savoy. We had to get the dealer out at 3am.
Stephen Unwin: Art dealer? At 3am?
Simon Gage: That’s so romantic!
KK: Who has the money for that? I’ve never been to Kaspar’s though … apparently Kaspar is the hotel’s mascot cat statue thing. I’ve always loved the American Bar and from the look of it, the Beaufort Bar back there is sexy, dark & slinky. Most things Beaufort are fabulous, to be fair.
SU: Have you been to the toilets? They’re really nice. Huge.
KK: Yes, but I feel for the coat check dude who really wants your coat. Anyway, let’s go and sit by the window so we can look at where the river would be if there weren’t all those trees in the way.
SU: Maybe we should ask Dame Joanna Lumley to cut them down so we can have a Garden Bridge and a view from Kasper’s.
SG: This is supposed to be a seafood restaurant but there seems to be a bit of everything. I’ve even asked for the vegetarian/vegan menu. Be-cause that’s how I roll.
KK: I’m going to have the dressed crab. And then the sole.
SU: Are you two rhyming on purpose? And shall I have the rabbit rillette so we can share? And then I’m going to ask which of these beef things is leaner.
SG: I’m going to stick to the main menu and have the goat curd with heritage tomatoes. Summery! And courgette flowers.
As a vegetarian, too much choice on a menu is overwhelming. It’s usually mushroom risotto or goat’s cheese tart and that’s your lot
SU: That’s a bit ten years ago, isn’t it, courgette flowers? Try though. And let’s try the truffle and chive mash. And some vegetables. Are you sure you’re not going for the veggie menu?
SG: I fancy the flowers. Besides, as a vegetarian, too much choice on a menu is overwhelming. It’s usually mushroom risotto or goat’s cheese tart and that’s your lot. That veggie menu is actually amazing.
KK: I wish these windows were a bit cleaner.
SU: It’s a bit like a conservatory in Keeping Up Appearances in this bit. Maybe we should have had a booth back there.
SG: It’s nice though. I’d prefer a tablecloth to a wipe-clean table but that’s just how I was brought up. My mum puts down a tablecloth even for breakfast.
SU: On a council estate?
SG: Even council estates have standards, you know.
[Our waiter comes with the starters: we work out he’s Canadian be-cause he says “oot” instead of “out”. He’s nice and apologises for the window, saying it’s because of a thunderstorm. He also says the truffle mash is a must-have.]
Ryan the waiter: I’ll send over our sommelier.
KK: A Somalian? A Somalian sommelier? Wonderful! I approve! Take that, Brexiters!
[Sommelier arrives – he is not Somalian – and wisely recommends the Chianti, because it’s light enough to go with fish as well as meat.]
KK: Do you remember in From Russia With Love, when Robert Shaw ordered claret with fish and that’s how James Bond knew he was evil?
SU: What’s a beef coulotte?
KK: It’s a short pair of trousers. [To sommelier] I’m just going to have two fingers of the wine.
SG: It depends whose two fingers. If it’s Elton John, that’s full to the brim.
KK: So, how’s the rabbit?
SU: It’s OK but it’s a bit refrigerated, if you know what I mean. It does feel like it’s been pre-made and frozen, which is a shame in a place like this.
KK: I think mine has been too. It’s got a “save me from this” feeling to it.
SU: Try it.
Oh, it tastes like American liver sausage, which is what mom used to feed us – kinda cheap paté
KK: Oh, it tastes like American liver sausage, which is what mom used to feed us – kinda cheap paté.
SG: Mine’s just very cold. But that’s OK. I wish English people would let their tomatoes ripen a bit more though. They’re so nice in Spain, where they use them just as they’re about to expire. I prefer mushy to crunchy.
KK: I avoid tomatoes in the UK because they’re usually like balls at Wimbledon: hard.
KK: Bon appétit! You know what, it’s easy to have good starters and good desserts but it’s hard to have good mains. But this smells amazing. The mash is really good.
SU: There’s something here that tastes incredible. I think there’s smoked onion in there.
KK: That’s nice.
SU: It’s so good. It really makes up for the starters.
KK: Yours has a nice harmonic to it. That sounds really pretentious. And sole doesn’t usually have much of a flavour but this is great.
SG: Jump into my flowers anytime you like.
KK: [tries] Mild but nice. But these potatoes were a really good choice. Didn’t someone use to shoot golf balls off the roof here? And I’m sure Richard Harris lived here.
SG: Didn’t Elaine Stritch as well?
KK: Yes and a friend of mine ran away from Roedean and holed up here. She also flooded the place, by accident. Forgot the water pressure at The Savoy is ledge, which is millennial for “legendary”.
SU: My dream is to be writer-in-residence somewhere like this. I’m really good at writing-in-residence.
SG: What? “Woke up, went on Grindr…”
SU: Erm, excuse me. I’m exclusive to Scruff!
KK: Didn’t you interview Liza Minnelli here?
SG: No, the Lanesborough.
KK: Bang goes that story.
SU: So, what are you having for dessert? I wonder if I could have the white chocolate parfait and suck the currants out. I hate currents. Fruit in food makes me vom, which is millennial for vom. It would totally be my “food hell” on Saturday Kitchen.
KK: Say you’re allergic.
SU: OK, let’s get the cherry clafoutis, chocolate parfait and ice cream and sorbet.
SG: But surely cherry is a fruit?
SU: In this sort of scenario, the fruit has been faffed with to such an extent it doesn’t resemble fruit, more that red drizzle you used to get on a 99 in the ‘80s.
KK: Is that actually “red flavour” or did you mean a sexual position? I should know. I’m tired. It’s the wine and being up all night. Don’t ask, don’t tell. But OK, I’ll tell you …
[Everyone suffers TMI overload]
SU: What’s that pianist playing out there? Is it Billy Joel?
KK: How did you pronounce “Joel”, then?
SU: With an umlaut on the e.
That’s how Americans pronounce it. Even thought it’s silly and wrong. Much like risotto, Caribbean, aluminium, and squirrel
SU: Because that’s how Americans pronounce it. Even thought it’s silly and wrong. Much like risotto, Caribbean, aluminium, and squirrel.
KK: But I pronounce it Joel as in roll. And I’m American.
SU: And I’m confused.
SG: And is this conversation still going on?
SU: Oh, he’s playing something else now. I think he got bored of our conversation too.
KK: Let’s go to the Beaufort Bar. It’s so gorgeous it deserves us.
SU: You say all the right things. And if seven delicious cocktails fall down my throat, blame it on the piano man.
SG: And there’s a joke in there if you’re drunk enough.
I love the Savoy so much that I try to have all my honeymoons here. Kaspar’s is a little tired though, even with the refit. But it is still THE SA-VOY, so eat it.
Though that veggie/vegan menu deserves an extra star all its own.
I basically wanted to be sitting in the Beaufort with a plate of that mash.
Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy, London WC2R OEU
020-7420 2111; kaspars.co.uk