We recently had the opportunity to venture to London’s The Savoy Hotel. Like the Ritz, it’s held in lofty spheres and is one of those places where ‘the other half live’. To understand where I’m coming from – first a little bit of history. Tucked away off the Strand, close to Covent Garden, the hotel has long been an after-show hang-out for actors appearing at nearby theatres and the Royal Opera House. As the first true luxury hotel in London, first to be lit by electricity, The Savoy was also the first to feature electric lifts.
After a renovation in 2014 costing around £200 million you now have the opportunity to book the £10,000-a-night Royal Suite. But we were here to check out the Thames Foyer room and experience the new chocolate temptation wheel… Colour me intrigued.
The Thames Foyer room at The Savoy is the perfect setting for afternoon tea. A glass-domed ceiling floods the room with natural light and an impressive gazebo encasing a stone fountain full of pink flowers and greenery takes centre stage, to form an elegant winter garden. But now in the evenings the tea cups are packed away and the room evolves into a haven of chocolate decadence. Here you can taste beautifully made gourmet chocolates, desserts and cocktails dreamed up and created by The Savoy’s talented team of chocolatiers, chefs and bartenders.
The Thames Foyer has launched an exquisite and theatrical Temptation Wheel of gourmet chocolates, indulgent desserts and hand-crafted cocktails. Presented on a beautiful lit up mahogany spinning wheel, the menu is divided into a painter’s palette of flavours akin to a posh lazy suzan. From light and fresh, to rich and indulgent, each hand-made chocolate has been transformed into a dessert which has then been matched to a uniquely blended cocktail.
Coming from Australia, The Savoy Hotel was always up there with places like The Ritz -I could only imagine what the actual place was like inside but I never ventur past the front doors for fear of looking so out of place that I would be asked to leave. All this was overcome with my first visit to The Savoy. All smiles and warm welcomes I pushed through the revolving doors and was comfortable enough to wander around the foyer and stick my nose into rooms and just take in the atmosphere.
Our waiter for the evening pushed the cocktail cart to the forefront of our table and explained that we could follow the menu as per the temptation wheel or we could mix and match as we saw fit. To start proceedings off we each chose a block of chocolate from their extensive housemade chocolate list. This was then presented in its own tin and broken by hammer – because it’s the way it shatters that matters. A great touch is the tin is there for people who are unable to finish all the chocolate and want to take it home with them.
While we nibbled, cocktails were discussed and again the five star treatment comes out in force – before you choose your cocktail you are encouraged to sample your shortlist to ensure you make the perfect decision. These are then presented in a small cocktail glass with an ice cube for you. Yes, I always ask to sample a couple of craft beers on tap but never did I think there would be the day that it could happen with cocktails. Crafted by Chris Moore and the Beaufort Bar team, these cocktails are remarkable as they dance across your palette from zesty and fragrant to rich and aromatic.
I sampled the Two Worlds – Bacardi Carta Blanca, mezcal, pineapple, lime and Velvet Falerum which was a bright, tropical cocktail that was light on the palate but I wanted something a little deeper so decided on the Life is Made of This.
Made up of Woodford Reserve Double Oak, creme de mure and apricot, this certainly was a lavish and opulent drink with a blackberry aroma that worked well with the darker chocolate.
Desserts were next on the agenda and lucky for us we had The Savoy’s Executive Pastry Chef, Ludwig Hely assist us with his suggestions on what to have after casting his gaze over our chocolate and cocktail selections thus far. Highlights included the Peach Melba Legacy with vanilla foam, fresh raspberries, poached pears and blown sugar that was ‘smashed’ at the table and the Dynamite Belle-Helene plated like a stick of dynamite with a poached William pear perched on top.
Moving onto the more rich and indulgent desserts I was in my mint choc-chip element with the Mint Stracciatella made up of 1st Cru Vila Cracinda 64% dark chocolate mousse, creme and wafers, flourless sponge and ice cream. I’m also a sucker for the classics and I had to order the Tarte Tatin because there’s not enough tarte satin in my life at the moment. It’s brought over to your table whole then cut and plated for you.
This is most definitely the perfect evening indulgence best suited for people who have had a pre theatre meal and wanting to continue their evening out or for those that have had their savoury dishes somewhere in town but want to try somewhere else for desserts and a cheeky nightcap. It’s certainly a different type of experience than the well known American Bar and The Beufort – and much cheaper to boot – as we’re not always in the market for a £5,000 cocktail. Open until midnight 7 days a week, I suggest adding this to your diary when next on The Strand or in Covent Garden.