By The Nibbler
The Guinea Grill is not a new building; its history stretches back hundreds of years. You can find it about halfway down Bruton Place in Mayfair, the sort of place you could imagine as the home of a spy in the Sixties.
It reminded me of a Victorian pub where the gentry would rub shoulders with ostlers and other horsey maintenance people. In the 20th Century it was the famous haunt of the Anglo-American entertainment elite, to which Bob Hope’s framed autograph stands as testament.
Today, the Guinea Grill is one of the best steak restaurants in London. It was one of the final establishments I visited before lockdown and the first post-lockdown. On both occasions service and food were impeccable. On approach, the Guinea looks like a relic from the Seventies, but it becomes clear that you are dealing with something more than a mere central London Young’s pub when you spy the green-suited doorman standing guard behind the massed ranks of drinkers in the street.
There is a very pleasant but ubiquitous bar – it could belong to any pub in southern England. Around and behind that sits the dining room. The ambience there is that of an old fashioned – but not stuffy – club or a country house relocated to the centre of London.
The menu is constructed around the palette of a steak lover with a clear bent towards seafood starters and generous hunks of meat for mains. The scallops (£18.00) were fresh and sweet, approaching the platonic ideal for grilled seafood and as good as I have ever had in more coastally located eateries. More often than not I dispense with such niceties and go directly for the main courses, as even I can only eat so much at one sitting.
The various cuts of steak are sold by the hundred grams. These are brought to your table for you to gaze at should you so desire. There is usually a good range of cuts available and other alternatives such as lamb cutlets (£28.00) or steak and kidney pies (£18.00). The Porterhouse (£9.50/100g) and Côte de Boeuf (£9.75/100g) that I had on my recent visits were two of the most perfectly grilled, served and then consumed specimens of their type that I have ever encountered.
The side dishes tend to be vegetables combined with a dairy product, such as gratin potatoes (£5.00), cauliflower cheese (£4.50) or creamed spinach (£4.00), but are reasonably priced and much more than reasonably tasty. The wine list is long and mid-priced – I have not tried them all, but I haven’t had a duff one yet.
What really makes this place stand out though is not just its excellent food, prime location and sense of history, but the feeling that every member of staff from Oisin Rogers, the manager, down to the lowliest dishwasher is passionate about being there.
The other good thing is that, in my experience, the bill is always a pleasant surprise – expect it to be big but never quite as expensive as you might think. So, with rumblings of another lock down looming, now is the time for steak lovers to appreciate one of the capital’s hidden gems.
The Guinea Grill, 30 Bruton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 6NL