REVIEW: Savini at Criterion, Piccadilly Circus
WHAT? Savini Milano’s 1867’s stunning London venue, recognised as one of the world’s top 10 historic restaurants. Based in an elegant Grade II listed building, the menu mirrors that of Savini Caffè in Milan.
WHERE? Facing buzzy Piccadilly, Savini’s opulent entrance features beautiful mosaic signage (regarded as the best surviving work of Thomas Verity, a leading theatre architect of the 1800s) and iconic half columns draped with female figures.
WHY GO? There are hours of fun to be had picking out pop culture reference points. It was here that Russell Crowe’s character Max Skinner met Charlie Willis in cult movie A Good Year, and where The Dark Knight’s Bruce Wayne politely informed guests he owned the restaurant after they asked if they could move tables together.
Gambit fans will recognise the decor (Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth’s characters dined here) and Criterion provided the scintillating backdrop for Downtown Abbey’s Lady Edith Crawley and Michael Gregson’s first kiss.
ANYTHING ELSE? The food, of course. It’s posh, to reflect the arresting Neo-Byzantine decor – with prices to match. Stick to veggie options and you may emerge with your overdraft intact (just) but moving into the Milanese meat dishes and mains, plates hover around £35. Fish & chips is £19.95, chicken breast and sautéed vegetables the same.
If you’d like to drop in but can’t afford a sit down meal, the pre-theatre menu is much more affordable – better still, book in for (£5!) tea and cake (there’s a gorgeous pastry counter groaning with delectable, freshly-baked goods) to rest weary legs in fairytale-like surrounds after a morning exploring the city.
The beautifully grilled lamb rack with citrus fruit puree is truly delicious, and will set you back £25.95, while rock salt-cooked sea bream and vegetables is £25. Side dishes like French fries, tomato salad and sautéed green beans are all £3.90, served on white china printed with the restaurant’s name.
Save this as a treat for a special occasion and you’ll have a wonderful time soaking up the atmosphere – the perfect place for a milestone birthday or to take family visiting London for the first time. It’s not every day you can tell friends you’ve just dined in a favourite spot of Churchill, Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, Grace Kelly and Christabel Pankhurst of the Suffragettes, but you’ll soon wish you afford to do so.
DETAILS: Saviniatcriterion.co.uk / 224 Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, London, W1J 9HP / 02079301459
Amy was a guest of Savini at Criterion