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Title: Dinners and Diners - Where and How to Dine in London
Author: Newnham-Davis, Lieut.-Col. (Nathaniel)
Language: English
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DINNERS AND DINERS

WHERE AND HOW TO DINE IN LONDON


BY

LIEUT.-COL. [NATHANIEL] NEWNHAM-DAVIS

London

GRANT RICHARDS
9 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.

OFFICE OF THE PALL MALL PUBLICATIONS
18 CHARING CROSS ROAD, W.C.

1899



_To all the gentlemen, the managers of the various restaurants and the
masters of the culinary art, who have assisted me in the making of this
little book, I give my most grateful thanks_.

 _THE AUTHOR_.



PREFACE

When the series of articles now collected in this volume was first
discussed between their author and myself in the early part of 1897,
we found it a matter of no slight difficulty to determine what range
they should take, and to what class of establishments they should be
confined. There is no accounting for the variety of people's tastes
in the matter of eating and drinking, and among the readers of the
_Pall Mall Gazette_ persons no doubt could be found ranging from the
Sybarite, who requires Lucullus-like banquets, to him of the simple
appetite for whom little more than a dinner with Duke Humphrey would
suffice. Consequently, the choice of places to be visited had to be
made in a catholic spirit, with the necessary result that a formidably
long list was prepared. In selecting Colonel Newnham-Davis to carry out
this commission for the _Pall Mall Gazette_, I knew I was availing
myself of the services of a thoroughly experienced, trustworthy, and
capable commissioner, who would deal with the task entrusted to him in
a pleasantly mixed anecdotal and critical spirit, while at the same
time supplying useful guidance to persons wanting to know where to dine
and what they would have to pay. In the following pages it will be seen
how well he carried out the duty he undertook, and I am able to add
that "Dinners and Diners" had a great vogue and very wide popularity
among the readers of the _Pall Mall Gazette_. There were very many
requests from various quarters that they should be collected into book
form, and this has now been done with some valuable additions included
in the shape of recipes and other information. In these days, when the
taste for dining at restaurants is so largely on the increase, I have
little doubt that the republication of these articles will be welcomed,
and that they will supply not only interesting but useful information.

 THE EDITOR OF THE
 _Pall Mall Gazette_.

 _March_ 1899.



 CONTENTS


 FOREWORD                                             Page

 The Difficulties of Dining                           xvii

 CHAPTER I
 Princes' Hall (Piccadilly)                           1

 CHAPTER II
 The Cheshire Cheese                                  9

 CHAPTER III
 The Holborn                                          15

 CHAPTER IV
 Romano's                                             22

 CHAPTER V
 Simpson's                                            31

 CHAPTER VI
 The Hans Crescent Hotel                              38

 CHAPTER VII
 The Blue Posts (Cork Street)                         45

 CHAPTER VIII
 Verrey's (Regent Street)                             51

 CHAPTER IX
 The Hotel Cecil (the Strand)                         59

 CHAPTER X
 Gatti's (the Strand)                                 67

 CHAPTER XI
 The Savoy (Thames Embankment)                        73
 Joseph at the Savoy                                  82

 CHAPTER XII
 The St. George's Café (St. Martin's Lane)            89

 CHAPTER XIII
 Willis's Rooms (King Street)                         95

 CHAPTER XIV
 Le Restaurant des Gourmets (Lisle Street)            102

 CHAPTER XV
 The Trocadero (Shaftesbury Avenue)                   108

 CHAPTER XVI
 The American Bar, Criterion (Piccadilly Circus)      116

 CHAPTER XVII
 The Hotel Continental (Regent Street)                122

 CHAPTER XVIII
 The Avondale (Piccadilly)                            128

 CHAPTER XIX
 The Mercers' Hall (Cheapside)                        137

 CHAPTER XX
 In ---- Street                                       143

 CHAPTER XXI
 A Regimental Dinner (Hotel Victoria, Northumberland
 Avenue)                                              149

 CHAPTER XXII
 Dieudonné's (Ryder Street)                           156

 CHAPTER XXIII
 The Berkeley (Piccadilly)                            162

 CHAPTER XXIV
 The Ship (Greenwich)                                 175

 CHAPTER XXV
 The House of Commons                                 182

 CHAPTER XXVI
 Earl's Court                                         189

 CHAPTER XXVII
 The Star and Garter (Richmond)                       196

 CHAPTER XXVIII
 The Cavour (Leicester Square)                        203

 CHAPTER XXIX
 The Café Royal (Regent Street)                       209

 CHAPTER XXX
 Frascati's (Oxford Street)                           218

 CHAPTER XXXI
 The Freemasons' Tavern (Great Queen Street)          224

 CHAPTER XXXII
 Scott's (Piccadilly Circus)                          231

 CHAPTER XXXIII
 The East Room (Criterion, Piccadilly Circus)         237

 CHAPTER XXXIV
 The Monico (Shaftesbury Avenue)                      247

 CHAPTER XXXV
 Goldstein's (Bloomfield Street)                      253

 CHAPTER XXXVI
 The Tivoli (the Strand)                              259

 CHAPTER XXXVII
 The Gordon Hotels (Northumberland Avenue)            266

 CHAPTER XXXVIII
 The Queen's Guard (St. James's Palace)               272

 CHAPTER XXXIX
 The Coburg (Carlos Place)                            279

 CHAPTER XL
 The Midland Hotel (St. Pancras)                      285

 CHAPTER XLI
 Kettner's (Church Street)                            291

 CHAPTER XLII
 Pagani's (Great Portland Street)                     297

 CHAPTER XLIII
 Claridge's (Brook Street)                            304

 CHAPTER XLIV
 Hotel de Paris (Leicester Place)                     311

 CHAPTER XLV
 The Walsingham House (Piccadilly)                    317

 CHAPTER XLVI
 Challis's (Rupert Street)                            324

 CHAPTER XLVII
 Epitaux's (The Haymarket)                            330


[Transcriber's note: The advertisements bound in at the beginning and
end of the original publication have been grouped together at the end
of this digital edition.]



FOREWORD

THE DIFFICULTIES OF DINING


I would be willing to make you, my dear sir, a very small bet, that if
in the early afternoon you go into the restaurant where you intend to
dine in the evening and disturb the head waiter, who is reading a paper
at one of the side tables, suddenly breaking the news upon him that
you want a simple little dinner for two at eight o'clock, and wish to
commence the repast with clear soup, he, in reply, after pulling out
a book of order papers and biting his lead pencil, will, a moment of
thought intervening, suggest _petite marmite_.

It is not his fault. Hundreds of Britons have taken the _carte de
jour_ out of his hands, and, looking at the list of soups, puzzled by
the names which mean nothing to them, have fallen back upon _petite
marmite_ or _croûte au pot_, which they know are harmless homely soups
which the lady they are going to bring to dinner cannot object to.

It requires a certain amount of bravery, a little consciousness of
knowledge, for the ordinary man looking down a list of dishes to put
his finger on every third one and ask, "What is that?" He is much more
likely, the head waiter, who has summed him up, prompting him, to order
very much the dinner that he would have eaten in his suburban home had
he been dining there that night.

Every good cook has his little vanities. They are all inventors; and
when any one of them, breaking away from the strict lines of the
classic _haute cuisine_, finds that a pinch of this or two drops of
that improves some well-known dish, he immediately gives it a new name.
It is the same with explorers. Did any one of them find a goat with
half a twist more in its horns than another explorer had noticed, but
he called it a new species and christened it Ovis Jonesi, Browni, or
Robinsoni, according to his surname. If you see _filets de sole à la
Hercules John Jones_ on the _carte_ do not be afraid to ask what it is.
It is probably some old acquaintance slightly altered by the chef, who
has had a flash of inspiration when preparing it for Mr. Hercules John
Jones, a valued client of the restaurant.

I should have begun this foreword by warning all experienced diners to
skip it and go on to Chapter I. It is not too late to do so now. I, who
have gone through all the agonies that a simple Briton struggling in
the spider web of a _carte de jour_ can endure, am only trying to warn
other simple Britons with a liking for a good dinner by an account of
my experiences.

If you or I, in the absence of the _maître d'hôtel_ and the head
waiter, fall into the hands of an underling, Heaven help us. He will
lure you or me on to order the most expensive dinner that his limited
imagination can conceive, and thinks he is doing his duty to the
_patron_. Luckily, such ill-luck as this rarely occurs. The manager is
the man to look for, if possible, when composing a menu. The higher you
reach up that glorious scale of responsibility which runs from manager
to _marmiton_, the more intelligent help you will get in ordering your
dinner, the more certain you are to have an artistic meal, and not to
be spending money unworthily.

That you must pay on the higher scale for a really artistic dinner is,
I regret to say, a necessity. No doubt the luxurious surroundings, the
quick, quiet service appear indirectly in the bill; but the material
for the dinner is costly. No pains are spared nowadays to put on the
table of a first-class restaurant the very best food that the world
can produce. Not only France, but countries much farther afield are
systematically pillaged that Londoners may dine, and I do not despair
of some day eating mangostines for dessert. All this costs money; but
the _gourmets_, like the dilettanti in any other art, do not get a
_chef-d'œuvre_ for the price of a "pot-boiler."

I, personally, always prefer a dinner _à la carte_ to a _table-d'hôte_
one. The _table-d'hôte_ one--which is a misused word, for the
_table-d'hôte_ was the general table presided over by the host--has
advanced, with the more general appreciation that dining does not mean
simply eating, and at a good restaurant the dinner of the day is
cooked to the minute for the groups at each separate table; but it
has the disadvantage that you have to eat a dinner ordered according
to somebody else's idea, and you have no choice as to length or
composition. With a friendly _maître d'hôtel_ to assist, the composing
of a _menu_ for a small dinner is a pleasure. To eat a _table-d'hôte_
dinner is like landing a fish which has been hooked and played by
someone else.

Mr. Echenard, late of the Savoy, in chatting over the vagaries of
diners, shook his head over the want of knowledge of the wines that
should be drunk with the various kinds of food. No man knows better
what goes to make a perfect dinner than Mr. Echenard does, and as
to the sinfulness of Britons in this particular, I quite agreed
with him. In Paris no man dreams of drinking champagne, and nothing
but champagne, for dinner; but in London the climate and the taste
of the fair sex go before orthodox rules. A tired man in our heavy
atmosphere feels often that champagne is the one wine that will give
him life again; and as the ladies as a rule would think a dinner at a
restaurant incomplete without champagne, ninety-nine out of a hundred
Englishmen, in ordering a little dinner for two, turn instinctively to
the champagne page of the wine-card. It is wrong, but until we get a
new atmosphere and give up taking ladies out to dinner, champagne will
be practically the only wine drunk at restaurants.

On the subject of tips it is difficult to write. I have always found
that a shilling for every pound or part of a pound, or a shilling
for each member of a party brings a "thank you" from the waiter at
any first-class restaurant. I should be inclined to err a little
on the liberal side of this scale; for waiters do not have an easy
life, are mainly dependent on the tips they get, and have it in their
power to greatly add to, or detract from, the pleasure of a dinner.
I always find that the man who talks about "spoiling the market," in
this respect is thinking of protecting his own pocket and not his
neighbour's.

Finally--and I feel very much as if I had been preaching a sermon--I
should, to put it all as shortly as possible, advise you, my brother
simple Briton--not you, the experienced diners, who have been expressly
warned off from this lecture--in ordering your dinner to get the aid of
the manager, and failing him the _maître d'hôtel_, never to be hustled
by an underling into ordering a big dinner when you want a small one,
and never to be afraid of asking what the composition of a dish is.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following little essay on the duties of a maître d'hôtel which
Mons. Joseph has sent me speaks most eloquently for itself:


MON CHER COLONEL--

Vous me demandez pour votre nouveau livre des recettes. Méfiez-vous
des recettes. Depuis la cuisinière bourgeoise et le Baron Brisse
on a chanté la chanson sur tous les airs et sur tous les tons. Et
qu'en reste-t'il; qui s'en souvient? Je veux dire dans le public
aristocratique pour qui vous écrivez, et que vous comptez intéresser
avec votre nouvelle publication, cherchez le nouveau dans les à propos
de table, donnez des conseils aux maîtresses de maison, qui dépensent
beaucoup d'argent pour donner des dîners fatiguants, trop longs,
trop compliqués; dîtes leur qu'un bon dîner doit être court, que
les convives doivent manger et non goûter, qu'elles exigent de leur
cuisinier ou cuisinière de n'être pas trop savants, qu'ils respectent
avant tout le goût que le bon Dieu a donné à toutes choses de ne pas
les dénaturer par des combinaisons, qui à force d'être raffinées
deviennent barbares.

On a beaucoup parlé du cuisinier. Si nous exposions un peu ce que doit
être le Maître d'Hôtel.


LE MAÎTRE D'HÔTEL FRANÇAIS

La plus grande force du Maître d'hôtel français, je dis maître d'hôtel
français à dessein, car si le cuisinier français a su tirer parti des
produits de la nature avec un art infini, pour en faire des aliments
aimables, agréables, et bienfaisants, le Maître d'hôtel français seul
est susceptible de les faire accepter et désirer. Or voilà pour le
Maître d'hôtel le champ qu'il a à explorer. Champ vaste s'il en fût,
car déviner avec tact ce qui peut plaire à celui-ci et ne pas plaire à
celui-là, est un problème à résoudre selon la nature, le tempérament
et la nationalité de celui qu'il doit faire manger. Il doit donc être
le conseil, le tentateur, et le metteur en scène. Il faut pour être un
maître d'hôtel accompli, mettre de côté, ou du moins ne pas laisser
percer le but commercial, tout en étant un commerçant hors ligne (je
parle ici du maître d'hôtel public de restaurant, attendu que dans la
maison particulière, le commerce n'a rien à voir, ce qui simplifie
énormement le rôle du maître d'hôtel. Pour cela il faut être un peu
diplomate, et un peu artiste dans l'art de dire, afin de colorer
le projet de repas que l'on doit soumettre à son dîneur). Il faut
donc agir sur l'imagination pour fair oublier la machine que l'on va
alimenter, en un mot masquer le côté matériel de manger. J'ai acquis la
certitude qu'un plat savamment préparé par un cuisinier hors ligne peut
passer inaperçu, ou inapprecié si le maître d'hôtel, qui devient alors
metteur en scène, ne sait pas présenter l'œuvre, de façon à le faire
désirer, de sorte que si ce mets est servi par un maître d'hôtel qui
n'en comprend pas le caractère, il lui sera impossible de lui donner
tout son relief, et alors l'œuvre du cuisinier sera anéanti et passera
inaperçu.

Ce maître d'hôtel doit être aussi un observateur et un juge et doit
transmettre son appréciation au chef de cuisine, mais pour apprécier il
faut savoir, pour savoir il faut aimer son art, le maître d'hôtel doit
être un apôtre.

Il doit transmettre les observations qu'il a pu entendre pendant le
cours d'un dîner de la part des convives, observations favorables ou
défavorables, il doit les transmettre au chef et aviser avec lui. Il
doit aussi être en observation, car il arrive le plus souvent que les
convives ne disent rien à cause de leur amphitryon mais ne mangent pas
avec plaisir et entrain le mets présenté: là encore le maître d'hôtel
doit chercher le pourquoi. Il y a aussi dans un déjeuner ou un dîner un
rôle très important réservé au maître d'hôtel. La variété agréable des
hors-d'œuvre, la salade qui accompagne le rôti, le façon de découper
ce rôti avec élégance, de bien disposer ce rôti sur son plat une fois
découpé, découper bien et vite, afin d'éviter le réchaud qui sèche.
Savoir mettre à point une selle de mouton, avec juste ce qu'il faut de
sel sur la partie grasse, qui lui donnera un goût agréable.

Pour découper le maître d'hôtel doit se placer ni trop près ni trop
loin des convives, afin que ceux-ci soient intéressés, et voient que
tous les détails sont observés avec goût et élégance, de façon à tenter
encore les appétits qui n'en peuvent presque plus mais qui renaissent
encore un peu aiguillonnés par le désir qu'a su faire naître l'artiste
préposé au repas, et qui a su donner encore envie à l'imagination,
quand l'estomac commençait à capituler.

Le maître d'hôtel a de plus cette partie de la fin du dîner, le choix
d'un bon fromage, les fruits, les soins de température à donner aux
vins, la façon de décanter ceux-ci pour leur donner le maximum de
bouquet; le maître d'hôtel ne peut-il encore être un tentateur avec la
fraise frappée (à la Marivaux)? La pêche à la cardinal, qu'accompagne
si bien le doux parfum de la framboise, légèrement acidulé d'un de jus
de groseille, notre grand carême qualifiait.

Certains plats de "manger des Dieux," combien l'expression est heureuse.

Depuis que je suis à Londres j'ai trouvé un nombre incalculable
"d'inventeurs de ma pêche à la cardinal." Il me faudra leur donner la
recette un jour que j'en aurai l'occasion.

N'est-ce pas de l'art chez le maître d'hôtel qui tente et charme les
convives par ces raffinements, et qui comme un cavalier sur une moture
essoufflée sait encore relever son courage et lui faire faire la
dernière foulée qui décide de la victoire? Après un bon repas le maître
d'hôtel a la grande satisfaction d'avoir donné un peu de bonheur à de
pauvres gens riches, qui ne sont pas toujours des heureux.

Et comme l'a dit Brillat Savarin "Le plaisir de la table ne nuit pas
aux autres plaisirs." Au contraire, qui sait si _indirectement_ je ne
suis pas le papa de bien des Bébés rieurs, ou la cause au moins de
certaines aventures que mes jolies clientes n'évoquent qu'en souriant
derrière leur éventail?

 JOSEPH
 _Directeur du Savoy Restaurant, Londres,
 et du Restaurant de Marivaux, Paris_.



CHAPTER I

PRINCES' HALL (PICCADILLY)


She is a charming little lady, and her husband, to tell the truth,
spoils her just a little. Most married dames would have been content,
if they wished to dine at a restaurant on the occasion of their
birthday, with one dinner; but Mrs. Daffodil--if I may so call her,
from her favourite flower--insisted on having a dinner out on Saturday,
and another on Sunday, and another on Monday, because, though her
twenty-first birthday really fell on Saturday, she was going to keep
it on Monday, when a great party of her husband's people were to meet
at the Savoy, and on Sunday her people were organising a feast at
the Berkley; but Mrs. Daffodil said that unless she dined out on the
evening of her _real_ birthday she was sure she would have no luck
during the coming year, and I was told that I was to have the privilege
of being the third at the little dinner which was to be the veritable
birthday dinner, and that, as a return for this great favour, I was to
order the dinner and choose the restaurant.

I was too wise to take the full responsibility of anything so
important, and in a council of three we ran down the list of dining
places. Of those we paused over in consideration, the Princes' Hall was
the nearest to Mrs. Daffodil's flat, and the little lady remembered
that she had not dined there this year, and suddenly decided that it
was the very place for a birthday dinner; and should she wear her new
white dress, or would the black dress with the handsome bit of lace
suit her better? Her husband looked a little helpless at the mention of
dress, and I at a venture suggested the black, for I remembered that
the roof of the grand salon of the Princes', with its heavy mouldings,
was white picked out with gold, while the great panels of brick red,
powdered with golden fleurs-de-lys and the palms filling-in the
corners, would show up a black dress just as well as a white one.

Black it was to be, and, this important matter decided, I was sent
off as an advance messenger in a hansom cab to order the best table
available and a dinner, not too elaborate and not too small, which was
to be ready by the time little Mrs. Daffodil had dressed and could
drive down to the restaurant in her brougham.

My hansom was a fleet one. A party of guests at one of the tables by
the windows, evidently bound for a theatre, had finished their dinner
and were just off and away as I arrived, and I pounced like a hawk
upon the table they left vacant. The first preliminaries were soon
over, for the little dapper _maître d'hôtel_, whom I had known in
previous days at the East Room of the Criterion, had the table cleared
at once, found some yellow flowers which, if they were not daffodils,
were very like them, and had big bouquets of them put upon the table.
Then came the important question of the dinner. _Hors-d'œuvre variés_,
suggested the little _maître d'hôtel_; but I moved as an amendment
that it should be caviar, for the caviar at the Princes' is Benoist's,
and no man imports better. "Turtle," suggested the _maître d'hôtel_, a
little doubtfully, after being defeated in his first venture, and as
I passed the suggestion with a nod _potage tortue_ went down on the
slip of paper. Mrs. Daffodil had made a suggestion as to salmon which
she withdrew as soon as made, but I had remembered it, and _saumon à
la Grenobloise_ was scribbled down. "Now," said the _maître d'hôtel_
a little decisively, "since the soup and the fish are brown, we must
have a white _entrée_," and as I was not prepared at the moment with
any practical suggestion, having thought of _noisettes de mouton_ and
a woodcock as the rest of the solid part of the dinner, I allowed the
proposal to go by default, and _fricassée de poulet à l'Ancienne_ was
ordered. "A tiny saddle of lamb?" was the next suggestion, and although
I regretted my prospective woodcock I let the matter go, for we had
a bird already in the menu. "_Pommes nouvelles risolées. Salade de
mâche, céleri, betterave. Asperges anglaises_," reeled off my mentor,
and I nodded at the mention of the English asparagus; and then to show
that I was going to have a word in the ordering of the dinner I added
_macédoine de fruits à l'orientale_ and _friandises_ without requiring
any prompting.

I waited in the bright, French-looking entrance hall, with its mirrors
and screens decorated with painted flowers, and watched the people
coming in and going out. A party of smart young men from the Stock
Exchange, most of whom I knew, on their way to a row of stalls they
had taken at the Gaiety, passed and chaffed me for my waiting; but
the sound of the band within in the great white railed-in musicians'
gallery was cheerful--and an excellent band it is, each artist in it
being a soloist of some celebrity--and presently M. Fourault, the
manager, who is the brother-in-law of M. Benoist, came out and talked
to me, saying that M. Azema, the _chef_, was personally superintending
the cooking of the dinner, to which I replied that I was much obliged
that the great artist from the Café Anglais should have paid me the
compliment. Then M. Fourault launched forth into details of the service
and the building: how the dishes are brought direct to the guests by
hand so as to avoid the chance of draughts in lifts; of the beauty of
the kitchen; the arrangements to keep in touch with and co-operate with
the Royal Institute on the top floor, and a variety of other topics.
And as he talked Signor Bocchi's band inside was softly playing, and I
was growing hungry waiting for little Mrs. Daffodil, for I knew that it
would not be her husband who caused the delay.

The brougham drew up before the glass portico with its brass
ornamentations, and Mrs. Daffodil in the wonderful black dress was
helped out. She would bring her ermine cape in with her, she thought;
and having arrived at the table smiled graciously at seeing her
name-flowers there. I explained that the table by the door protected by
the glass screens was my favourite one, and that I should have taken it
if possible, but that it had been engaged for days, and Mrs. Daffodil
was pleased to think the one we had obtained was quite as nice. Didn't
she think the room, with its big panels, its few long mirrors, its
clusters of electric lights and electric candles on the tables, and its
musicians' gallery over the entrance to the offices and kitchen, very
handsome? I asked. And as she helped herself to the caviar, each little
ball as separate as if they had been pellets of shot, she assented; but
to show that she was critical, thought there ought to have been more
palms. Then the little lady took up the questioning, and wanted to know
who everybody was who was dining. I was able to point out a well-known
artist taking a quiet meal with his wife, who at one time was an
ornament of the comedy-stage; a party of soldier officers up from
Aldershot (and I had a story of the gallantry of one of them, and how
he should have won by right a Victoria Cross); an ex-Gaiety girl who
was the heroine of a breach of promise case, and who had at the table
she occupied quite a crowd of gilded youths; a youngster whose good
looks have won him a very rich but not too young wife--and there I had
to pause, for though the room was full of well-dressed, smart-looking
people, I knew no more of them by name.

I was reproved for not knowing my London better, and tried to turn
the conversation by telling my host that I would sooner share the
burgundy with him than drink the champagne which Mrs. Daffodil thought
a necessary part of her birthday dinner, but at that moment, the soup
being brought, we all relapsed into serious criticism. The turtle
soup was good undoubtedly, as good as at any City dinner, with its
jade-coloured semi-solid floating in the darker liquor, and we praised
that unreservedly, but I was told that I was in a carping mood because
I stated that I like my salmon as plainly cooked as possible. As to the
_fricassée_, I liked it immensely; but Mrs. Daffodil, because her shoe
pinched, or for some other good reason, said that she hated truffles.
The lamb, the most delicate little _selle d'agneau de lait_, with
the potatoes and the dark green salad relieved by the crimson of the
beetroot, was admirable. English asparagus never can be anything but
good, and though my hostess insisted on my eating a cherry from among
the _friandises_, I left the sweets, as is my custom, alone.

And the bill. I asked my host to let me look at it, and here it
is:--three couverts, 3s.; caviar, 3s.; tortue, 6s.; saumon, 6s.;
fricassée de poulet, 7s.; selle d'agneau, 8s.; pommes risolées, 2s.;
salade, 1s. 6d.; asperges, 10s. 6d.; macédoine de fruits, 4s. 6d.; one
'67 (Burgundy), 12s.; ½ 140 (champagne), 7s. 6d., three cafés special,
1s. 6d.; three liqueurs fine champagne (1800), 6s.; total, £4: 0: 6.

 1_st February_.

       *       *       *       *       *

This was a dinner ordered in a hurry and without perhaps due
consideration. Talking over it some days later on with Mons. Fourault,
I asked him to give me a suggestion as to what he considered a typical
Princes' Hall dinner for a larger number, and I also asked him to be my
ambassador to M. Azema, the _chef_, for the _recette_ of the _poulet à
l'Ancienne_, which I had liked so much.

This is the _menu_ for a dinner of six covers, a very admirable dinner
of ceremony. As to its cost, I am not prepared to guess.


                          Le Signi du Volga.
                  Les petits coulibiacs à la Czarine.
                          La crème Ste-Marie.
                Les suprêmes de truites à la Princesse.
                   Les poulardes à la Georges Sand.
                  Le Baron de Pauillac aux primeurs.
                      Les bécasses au champagne.
                         La salade Impériale.
              Les asperges d'Argenteuil Ste-Mousseleine.
                       Le soufflé chaud succès.
                            La glace Leda.
                      Une corbeille de friandise.
                          Les canapés Diane.
                               Dessert.


Mons. Azema thought the _fricassée Ancienne_, the _recette_ of which I
had asked for, too simple a dish, and instead sent me the _recette_ for
the _poularde Georges Sand_, which is a very lordly dish. Here it is as
Mons. Azema wrote it, and a translation for any good people who, like
myself, are puzzled sometimes by the terms employed in la Haute Cuisine.


_Recette de la poularde G. Sand_

_Lever les membres d'une belle poularde très blanche bien
régulièrement. Faire la tomber à blond, avec un oignon émincé,
une bonne pointe de paprika, et deux verres de vin blanc, environ
quarante-cinq minutes. Retirer la poularde et passer le fonds à
l'étamine, le monter avec un bon beurre d'écrevisse, et garnir
avec queues d'écrevisse, belles truffes, en olives, et croûtons de
feuilletage. Servir très chaud_.

[Illustration]

Dismember a large white fowl very carefully. Stew it in white stock,
with a chopped onion, a good pinch of paprika, and two glasses of white
wine, for about forty-five minutes. Take out the fowl, and pass the
stock through the tammy. Flavour with a good cray-fish butter, and
garnish with tails of cray-fish, large truffles, olives, and croûtons
of French puff-paste (_feuilletage_). Serve very hot.



CHAPTER II

THE CHESHIRE CHEESE


I had been kept late in Fleet Street on Saturday, and at a little
before seven I woke to the fact that it was near the dinner hour,
that I was in the clothes I had worn all day, that I was brain-weary
and tired, and not energetic. I should be late for dinner if I went
home, half across the width of London; I could not well dine at a club
without evening clothes, and a smart restaurant was equally out of the
question, for I felt, being in the state of humiliation which weariness
and London grime bring one to, that I could not have held my own as
to the choice of a table or the ordering of a dinner against even the
least determined _maître d'hôtel_.

The easiest way was to dine at one of the Fleet Street hostelries, and
I ran such of them as I know over in my mind. How they have changed
since Herrick rang them into rhyme! Then they were the Sun, the Dog,
the Triple Tun. Now they are the Rainbow, the Cock, Anderton's, the
Cheshire Cheese, and a host more. It was a pudding day at the Cheshire
Cheese, not the crowded day, which is Wednesday, but a day on which I
was sure to get a seat in the lower room and be able to eat my meal
in comfort and content; and that finally decided me in favour of the
hostelry in Wine Office Court.

It is not a cheerful thoroughfare that leads up to the Cheshire Cheese.
It is a narrow and dark passage, and the squat little door of the
tavern itself is not inviting, for it is reminiscent of a country
public-house. It is not until one is through the sawdusted passage and
into the lower room that one is in warmth and comfort.

I was a little late. The man who loves the Cheshire Cheese pudding
is in his place at table a few minutes before the pudding is brought
in at 6.30 P.M., a surging billow of creamy white bulging out of a
great brown bowl, and then when the host begins to carve--and there
is a certain amount of solemnity about the opening of this great
pudding--the early guest gets the best helping. By a quarter-past
seven, when I made my entry, the pudding had sunk down into the depths
of the bowl.

Most of the tables were full, but the long table, at the head of which
Dr. Johnson is alleged to have sat with Goldsmith at his left hand,
had some vacant places, and I took one of them. "Pudding?" said the
head waiter. I assented, and Mr. Moore, the host, a dapper gentleman,
with a wealth of dark hair and a dark moustache, who had been chatting
to a clean-shaven young gentleman who had the seat opposite to mine,
moved to the great bowl to give me my helping, for no one but the host
touches the sacred pudding. The clean-shaven young gentleman relapsed
into a newspaper, and while I waited the few seconds before the
brown mixture of lark and kidney and oyster and steak was put before
me I looked round at my neighbours. A gentleman, bald of head and
with white whiskers, who was addressed as "Doctor," sat in the great
lexicographer's seat, and talking to him was a bearded gentleman whom I
put down at once as a press-man, a sub-editor probably. The only other
guest at our table was a good-looking, middle-aged man in clothes that
had the gloss of newness on them, a flannel shirt, a white collar, and
a gaudy tie. He had finished his meal, was evidently contented with the
world, and there was a conversational glint in his eye when he caught
mine that made me look away at once; for I was hungry and downcast and
not inclined for cheerful converse until I had eaten and drunk.

"Pudding, sir," and the head waiter put the savoury mass before me;
"and what else?" I ordered a pint of beer and stewed cheese. I ate my
pudding, and being told that the cheese was not ready, ate a "follow"
afterwards, for there is no limit to the amount of pudding allowed,
and some of the "followers," as the host of the tavern calls them,
have been known to have half a dozen helpings; and then the brown and
fizzling cheese in its little tin tray, with a triangle of toast on
either side, was put before me. The cheese, mixed with mustard and
neatly spread on the toast, according to custom, eaten, the last drops
of the bitter beer poured from the pewter tankard into the long glass
which is supposed to give brilliancy to the malt liquor; and then,
feeling a man again, I looked across at the flannel-shirted gentleman
who had been smoking a pipe placidly, with a look which meant "Come on."

The ripple of conversation broke at once. He had been out in Australia
for fifteen years, went out there as a mere lad, and to-day was his
first day in town after his return. He had been used in past times to
come to the Cheshire Cheese for his mid-day meal, and the first place
he had sought out when he came to London was the old hostelry. He
missed the old waiters, he said, but otherwise the place was much the
same and as homely as ever.

I recognised in the attraction that had brought this wanderer from
the antipodes to the old-fashioned tavern, first of all places, the
same force that had made me, the _blasé_ man about town, unconsciously
decide to dine there in preference to any other Fleet Street
hostelry--its homeliness. The old-fashioned windows with their wire
blinds, the sawdusted floor, the long clay pipes on the window-sill;
the heirloom portrait of Henry Todd, waiter; the "greybeard" and
leather-jack on their brackets (both gifts from Mr. Seymour Lucas the
artist); the piles of black-handled knives, the willow-pattern plates
and dishes; the curious stand in the centre of the floor for umbrellas;
the great old-fashioned grate with a brass kettle singing merrily on
it; the pile of Whitaker's almanacks putting a touch of colour into
a dark corner; Samuel Johnson's portrait over his favourite seat, and
a host of prints, relating to the great man, on the walls; the high
partitions, one particular square pew being shielded by a green baize
curtain; the simple napery; the ruin of the great pudding on its little
table; all carried one back through the early Victorian times to those
dimmer periods when even coffee-houses were unknown, and every man took
his ease at his inn.

The floodgates of the friendly stranger's speech once unloosed, he
told me of his life in Australia, and the hard times he had had, and
how matters had come so far right that he was able to come home to
England and enjoy himself for six months; and the clean-shaven young
gentleman--he was going on later to assist in an entertainment to the
poor of Houndsditch, he told us--emerged from his newspaper, and we all
found a good deal to say. Nothing would satisfy the returned wanderer
but that he must be allowed to ask us to join him in drinking a bowl of
the Cheshire Cheese punch, and Mr. Moore, the host, must make one of
the party. The other guests--most of them, I should think, connected
in some way or other with the Fourth Estate--had gradually drifted
away, and Mr. Moore, who had been going from table to table, came and
sat down. "No celebrities here to-night, Mr. Moore," I said somewhat
reproachfully, and he admitted the soft impeachment, but Irish-wise
told us of the great men of the present day that we had missed by not
dining at the Cheese on any night but the present one. Every journalist
of fame, every editor, has eaten within the walls of the old hostelry,
and there is no judge that sits on the bench who has not taken some of
his first dinners as a barrister in the little house up Wine Office
Court.

The hot punch was brought in in one of the china bowls, of which there
are three or four in a little corner cupboard in the old-fashioned bar
across the passage, and an old silver ladle to serve it with; and the
talk ranged back from the great men of the present day to those of
the past. Thackeray knew the "Cheese" well; Dickens used to come in
his early days and tell the present host's mother all his troubles,
and so we got back to Goldsmith and Johnson, the latter of whom is
the especial patron saint of the hostelry, for when he lived in Gough
Square and Bolt Court the Cheshire Cheese is said to have been his
nightly resort.

The punch ended, the time came for the reckoning. Of old the head
waiters were all clean-shaven, like Henry Todd, whose portrait hangs
aloft, and all the reckoning was done by word of mouth. But the present
head waiter has introduced innovations; he wears a moustache, and makes
out his bills on paper. This was mine--Ye rump steak pudding, 2s.;
vegetables, 2d.; cheese, 4d.; beer, 5d.; total, 2s. 11d.

 8_th February_.



CHAPTER III

THE HOLBORN


The American Comedian and myself stood at a club window and looked
out on London. He was rehearsing, and so enjoyed the rare privilege
of having his evenings free to spend as he liked. I had no business,
except to get myself a dinner somewhere, so we agreed to eat ours in
company.

The difficulty was to decide where to dine. The Comedian dined at one
club or another every day of his life before going to the theatre, so a
club dinner was out of the question. Not having a lady to take out we
agreed that we did not care to go to any of the "smart" restaurants: we
wanted something a little more elaborate than a grill-room would give
us, and more amusing company than we were likely to find at the smaller
dining places we knew of.

I think that the suggestion to dine at the cheap _table d'hôte_ dinner
at one of the very large restaurants, to listen to the music, and look
at the people dining, came from me. Our minds made up on this point,
there was the difficulty of selecting the restaurant, so we agreed to
toss up, and the spin of the coin eventually settled upon the Holborn
Restaurant.

In the many-coloured marble hall, with its marble staircase springing
from either side, a well-favoured gentleman with a close-clipped grey
beard was standing, a sheet of paper in his hand, and waved us towards
a marble portico, through which we passed to the grand saloon with its
three galleries supported by marble pillars. "A table for two," said a
_maître d'hôtel_, and we were soon seated at a little table near the
centre of the room, at which a waiter in dress clothes, with a white
metal number at his buttonhole and a pencil behind his ear, was in
attendance waiting for orders. The _table d'hôte_ dinner was what we
required, and then I noticed that I had to ask for the wine list, and
that it was not given me opened at the champagnes, as is usually the
custom of waiters.

The menu, which on a large sheet of stiff paper peeps out from a deep
border of advertisements, is printed both in French and in English.
This is the English side of it on the night we dined:--


                                SOUPS.
                      Purée of Hare aux croûtons.
                              Spaghetti.

                                 FISH.
                      Suprême of Sole Joinville.
                            Plain Potatoes.
                   Darne de saumon. Rémoulade Sauce.

                               ENTRÉES.
                       Bouchées à l'Impératrice.
                            Sauté Potatoes.
                     Mutton Cutlets à la Reforme.

                                REMOVE.
                     Ribs of Beef and Horseradish.
                           Brussels Sprouts.

                                ROAST.
                         Chicken and York Ham.
                           Chipped Potatoes.

                                SWEETS.
                  Caroline Pudding. St. Honoré Cake.
                             Kirsch Jelly.

                                 ICE.
                              Neapolitan.

                            Cheese. Celery.

                               DESSERT.


We agreed to drink claret, and I picked out a wine third or fourth down
on the list.

The Comedian said he was hungry, and I told him that I was glad to hear
it, for it might check the miraculous tales which he generally produces
at meal-times.

With the Spaghetti soup, which was brown and strong, the Comedian
told me the tale of the mummy of one of the Ptolemies who lived some
thousands of years B.C. which was revivified in the Boston Museum by
having clam soup administered to it. It was not one of the Comedian's
best efforts, and I capped it easily by a tale of the Japanese
jelly-fish soup which is supposed to confer everlasting life, and which
tastes and looks like hot water.

The _darne de saumon_ was rather a pallid slice, which I attributed
to package in ice; but which the Comedian said was owing to its having
overgrown its strength. "And that reminds me," he had just begun when
I had the presence of mind to anticipate him, and to tell the story
of the 140 lbs. mahseer which it took my uncle, on my mother's side,
three days to land from the Ganges. I felt bound to tell him that the
anecdote he subsequently related of a tarpon, that his first cousin,
twice removed, had hooked, towing a steamer's lifeboat from the
Floridas to Long Island, sounded like an invention.

To avoid friction we talked of our neighbours. Next door to us was
a merry little party of three ladies, one a widow, and a gentleman
in a red tie, and the Comedian invented quite a storyette, after the
manner of Dickens, of the kindly brother taking his three sisters
out to dinner on the birthday of one of them--no brother would order
champagne for his sisters except on the occasion of a birthday, he
said. A couple, in mourning, were husband and wife, and the Comedian,
being in the vein, wove a pathetic little story round the unconscious
couple. Two young men, in spick-and-span black coats, with orchids in
their buttonholes, dining with two pretty girls, were groomsmen from
some wedding entertaining two of the bridesmaids. Some nodding plumes
showing over the second balcony the Comedian declared must belong to
the "principal boy" of some provincial pantomime.

The cutlet of mutton that was brought to each of us was small, and had
suffered from having to journey some way from the kitchen; but it was
well cooked, and there was unlimited sauce with it. When I told the
Comedian the established fact that at the Cape the sheep have to have
wheels fitted to their tails, he pretended that in New England there is
a breed that draw their tails in miniature waggons. I flatter myself,
however, that my tale of the Ovis Polii, the perpendicular shot and the
three thousand feet fall down a Cashmerian gully left him breathless.
To save the Comedian from brain-weariness caused by invention I drew
the waiter into conversation, and, beginning with the band--a good
band, but much too loud--learned that we should find the time each
piece was played on the programme which was on the back of the menu.
It was not a full night, our waiter told us, but we were early, it was
only 7.15, and the saloon would fill up presently; and then he drifted
into wonderful figures of the number of guests the Holborn could hold
at one time. We wondered inwardly, but sent him off to get us our
beef and Brussels sprouts. "When I was out with Buffalo Bill----" the
Comedian began as the waiter returned; but as my only story to go with
beef is a Wildebeeste story, not one of my best, I mentioned somewhat
austerely, that our helpings were growing cold. Then the Comedian,
who was invincible in appetite, ate a helping of chicken and ham and
reported favourably. Encouraged by this, I ate a slice of the ham
which, with a dash of champagne for sauce, was good. The Comedian told
rather a foolish story of a nigger robbing a hen-roost, which gave me
an opening to relate my celebrated anecdote of the Naval Brigade and
the chickens during the Zulu War, an anecdote which has been known to
make a rheumatic bishop and a deaf Chairman of Quarter Sessions laugh.

The sweets we took as read, and finished up our dinner with an ice, a
trifle too salt, I thought. The waiter had been disappointed at our
taking no sweets, but when we refused the offer of cheese and celery
and dessert, he was afraid that something must be the matter with us,
for most people at the Holborn eat their dinner steadily through.

The saloon had filled up as our waiter had predicted. There was a
howling swell with tuberoses in the buttonhole of his frock-coat and
a lordly moustache. There were two youngsters in dress clothes and
"made-up" ties making merry with two damsels. There was a pretty
actress--"she's going to play in our new piece. It's her first night
off from playing at the Frivolity, and she has come here to be quiet,"
said the Comedian. There was a business man from the north being
entertained by two City friends, and a host more diners whose history
we had not time to invent, for our waiter had taken the pencil from his
ear and was standing ready with a little book in his hand.

"Dinners, 7s.; attendance, 6d.; one bottle claret, 4s. 6d.; total,
12s." That was the bill our waiter gave us, and he said "Thank you"
very heartily for a shilling for himself.

I should have appreciated my dinner more if the Comedian had confined
his conversation to facts.

I regret to hear that the Comedian permitted himself to say, next day,
at the Club that it was a thousand pities that I could not tell a story
without exaggeration.

 15_th February_.



CHAPTER IV

ROMANO'S


Sometimes after a period of depression one wants a tonic in dinners,
as one does in health. My gastronomic malady had been a family feast
at which I had sat next to a maiden aunt who, after telling me that I
was getting unpleasantly fat, recounted anecdotes of my infancy and
childhood all tending to prove that I was the most troublesome baby
and worst conducted small boy that ever was. Something had to be done
to banish that maiden aunt and her anecdotes from my memory. The happy
thought came to me that, as the antidote, I had better, as I wanted
cheering up, ask Miss Dainty, of the principal London theatres, to be
kind enough to come out and dine at any time and at any restaurant she
chose to name. I sent my humble invitation by express early in the day,
and received her answer by telegram:--"Yes. Romano's. Eight. See I have
my pet table. I have been given a beautiful poodle--Dainty. Be good,
and you will be happy."

At luncheon time I strolled down to the restaurant, the
butter-coloured front of which looks on to the Strand, and the
proprietor, "the Roman," as he is called by the habitués of the
establishment, being out, I took Signor Antonelli, his second in
command, into my confidence, secured the table next to the door,
sheltered by a glass screen from the draught, which I knew to be Miss
Dainty's pet one, and proceeded to order dinner. Antonelli--I must drop
the Signor--who has all the appearance of a cavalry colonel, led off
with _hors-d'œuvre_. I followed with, as a suggestion for soup, _crème
Pink 'Un_, a soup named after a light-hearted journal which practically
made "the Roman's" fortune for him. Then, as there were some beautiful
trout in the house, the only question was as to the cooking of them.
_Truite au bleu_, my first thought, was too simple. _Truite Chambord_,
the amendment moved by Antonelli, was too rich; so we compromised by
_Truite Meunière_, in the sauce of which the lemon counteracts the
butter. _Côtelettes de mouton Sefton_ was Antonelli's suggestion, and
was carried unanimously; but I altered his pheasant, which sounded
greedy for two people, into a _perdreau en casserole_. Salad, of
course. Then, taken with a fit of parsimony, I refused to let English
asparagus go down on the slip of paper, and ordered instead _artichauts
hollandais_. Vanilla ice _en corbeille_ and _petits fours_ wound up my
menu.

When the handsome lady arrived--only ten minutes late--she swept like
a whirlwind through the hall--past the flower-stall, where I had
intended to ask her to pause and choose what flowers she would--in a
dress which was a dream of blue with a constellation of diamonds on it,
and as she settled down into her seat at the table, not quite certain
whether to keep on the blue velvet and ermine cloak or let it drop, I
was told the first instalment of her news at express speed. I need not
look a crosspatch because she was late, the pretty lady said. It was
the fault of the cabman, who was drunk, and had driven her half-way
down Oxford Street. What was a good name for a poodle? The one she had
been given was the dearest creature in the world. It had bitten all the
claws off the Polar bear skin in the drawing-room, had eaten up a new
pair of boots from Paris, had hunted the cat all along the balcony,
breaking two of the blue pots the evergreens were in, and had dragged
all the feathers out of the parrot's tail. Was Sambo a good name? Or
Satan? Or what? Why couldn't I answer?

My humble suggestions as to a name for a poodle having been treated
with scorn, Miss Dainty turned her attention to the _hors-d'œuvre_.
There were no plain sardines among the numerous little dishes on the
table, and the ordinary tinned sardine was what her capricious ladyship
wanted--and got. The _crème Pink 'Un_ was highly approved of, and I
did my best to explain at length how the combination of rice with
a Bisque soup softened the asperity of the cray-fish. Miss Dainty,
changing the subject, demanded to know what the seascapes, which are
framed all round the room, in mauresque arches, were. I told her
that the distemper paintings of deep blue sea and castles and islands
and mosques, which are the principal features of the room, a room in
which everything, the clock, the musicians' gallery, the electric
light brackets, are of Eastern type, were views on the Bosphorus;
and, thinking to amuse, related how when the paintings were first put
up, a celebrated battle-painter and myself had volunteered to give an
up-to-dateness to them by adding some Armenian atrocities to lend life
to the pictures, and of "the Roman's" horror, under the impression that
we really meant to do as we said. My humorous anecdote fell rather
flat, for Miss Dainty, who did not care much for her trout, though I
thought it very excellent, but a trifle too buttery, said that that was
just the sort of silly thing I would do.

The quiet person with a silver chain round his neck had brought our
bottle of _St-Marceaux_, and the clean-shaven little Italian waiter in
a white apron had replaced the trout with the cutlets _à la Sefton_.
For these Miss Dainty had nothing but praise, which I echoed very
heartily.

"Your dinner--everything go right, eh, Mister Esquire?" and "the
Roman," a dapper little Italian in faultless dress-clothes, with a
small, carefully tended moustache, a full head of black hair, turning
grey at the temple, and talking English with a free admixture of
Italian, stood by our table, going his round to see that all the diners
were satisfied. Miss Dainty did not ask for the deep-red carnation
that was in "the Roman's" button-hole; but before he had passed on she
was pinning it into her dress, and when I ventured a very mild remark
I was told that if I had not been mean enough to let her pass the
flower-stall without offering her a button-hole she would not have had
to accept one from anybody else--a retort which was scarcely fair.

I asked Miss Dainty if she knew who the pretty lady dining with a
good-looking grey-haired man at a table at the end of the room was.
She did know and gave me a full account of the lady's stage career,
and while the _perdreau en casserole_ was being cut up we ran over
the professions of the various diners who occupied the triple line of
little tables running down the room. The two men dining by themselves
were powers in the theatrical world. "May I ask them to come and take
their coffee and old brandy at our table?" I asked, and Miss Dainty
graciously assented. There were as well a well-known theatrical lawyer
talking business with the secretary to a successful manager; a dramatic
author, who was proposing plays to a colonial manager; a lady with
golden hair and a permanent colour to whom a small Judaic youth was
whispering with great earnestness; a well-known sporting lord, dining
by himself; a music-hall agent laying down the law as to contracts to a
journalist; two quiet ladies in sealskin coats; and many others, nearly
all connected with the great army of stage-land.

A little too much onion with the _perdreau en casserole_ we both
thought, otherwise admirable. Salad good, artichokes good, though we
preferred plain vinegar as a dressing to the _hollandais_ one, and the
ice delicious. Then Miss Dainty trifled with cherries cased in pink
sweetness and sections of oranges sealed in transparent sugar, and our
two friends from the table at the far end came across and took coffee
and liqueurs with us, and talked of the old days when Romano's was but
a quarter of the size it is now, when it was far more Bohemian than it
is now, when there was a little aquarium in the front window into which
the sons of Belial used to try and force each other late at night, much
to the consternation of the gold-fish, when everybody who took his
meals there knew everybody else and the chaff ran riot down the single
line of little tables, and when every Sunday morning a devoted but
Sabbath-breaking band were led across the Strand by "the Roman" to see
his cellars, "best in London," as he used to say.

All of a sudden Miss Dainty, whom these reminiscences did not interest
very much, remembered that the door of the parrot's cage had been left
open. She was quite sure that the poodle would be trying to kill the
bird, and she must go back at once to see to the matter.

I put Miss Dainty, who said that she had enjoyed her dinner, into a
hansom, two brown eyes full of laughter set in a pretty face looked out
at me as she told me to be good and that then I should be happy, the
cabman cried "Pull up" to his horse, and the pretty lady was off to the
rescue of the parrot.

Then I went back and paid my bill: Two couverts, 6d.; hors-d'œuvre,
2s.; crème Pink 'Un, 2s.; truite, 2s. 6d.; côtelettes de mouton, 2s.
6d.; petits pois, 1s.; pommes, 1s.; perdreau, 6s.; salade, 1s.;
artichauts, 2s.; glace, 2s.; champagne (107), 13s. 6d.; café, 3s.;
liqueurs, 5s.; total £2: 4s.

 22_nd February_.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I asked Antonelli for a specimen menu of a dinner of ceremony such
as is often given in the pretty Japanese room on the second floor he
looked pleased and said that I should certainly have it; but when I
asked for the _recette_ of the _crème Pink 'Un_ he looked as doleful
as if he had just heard of the death of his grandmother. But Signor
Romano came to the rescue. "The _chef_ he say that soup what-you-call-a
_secret du maison_; but I tell him no matter _secret_ or not he just
write it out for you." So I got my _recette_. This is the dinner, and a
noble feast it is, that Antonelli recommends for a party of twelve. The
_Homard sauté à la Julien_ is a speciality of Romano's; but I have some
respect for the feelings of Antonelli and the _chef_, and did not ask
for a _recette_ of _that_.


                           Huîtres natives.
                      Petite bouchée norvégienne.
                            Tortue claire.
                            Crème Dubarry.
                       Homard sauté à la Julien.
                Aiguillette de sole. Sauce Germanique.
                Zéphir de poussin à la Brillat-Savarin.
                   Selle d'agneau à la Grand-Veneur.
                  Petits pois primeur à la Française.
                      Pomme nouvelle persillade.
                      Spongada à la Palermitaine.
                  Jambon d'York braisé au champagne.
                        Caille à la Crapaudine.
                           Salade de saison.
             Asperges vertes en branche. Sauce mousseuse.
                         Timbale Marie-Louise.
                          Bombe à la Romano.
                        Petits fours assortis.
                               Dessert.
                                 Café.


_Pink 'Un Potage_

The _recette_ of the _crème Pink 'Un_ is as follows:--

_Mettez dans une casserole deux onces de beurre, deux
cuillères-à-bouche d'huile d'olive; coupez en petits morceaux une
carotte et un oignon, que vous laisserez cuire pendant cinq minutes
tout doucement. Avez ensuite vingt-quatre écrevisses vivantes, un
livre de crevettes et six tomates fraîches, que vous mettrez ensemble;
ajoutez une demi-bouteille de Chablis, et, après avoir assaisonné de
sel et poivre cayenne, couvrez votre casserole et donnez vingt minutes
d'ébullition._

_D'autre part prenez une livre d'orge perlée que vous aurez faite cuire
pendant trois heures dans un bouillon ordinaire, brayez dans un mortier
vos écrevisses et crevettes, ainsi que l'orge, mélangez, délayez avec
un litre de bouillon, passez ensuite a l'étamine; ceci fait, remettez
votre potage à chauffer sans lui donner de l'ébullition; additionnez
une réduction de cognac où vous y aurez mis une branche de thym,
deux feuilles de laurier, un petit bouquet de persil, d'estragon et
cerfeuil. Finissez votre potage en y ajoutant six onces de beurre frais
et servez avec croûtons._

[Illustration]

Put in a saucepan two ounces of butter and two teaspoonfuls of olive
oil. Cut a carrot and an onion into small pieces, and let them cook
gently for five minutes. Then take twenty-four live cray-fish, a pound
of prawns, and six fresh tomatoes. Put these in altogether, and then
add half a bottle of Chablis, and after having seasoned with salt and
cayenne pepper, put the lid on the saucepan, and let it boil for twenty
minutes. Have ready a pound of pearl barley which has been cooked for
three hours, in ordinary stock. Pound in a mortar the cray-fish and
prawns, with the barley, dilute with a pint and three-quarters of
stock, and pass through a fine sieve. This done, put the soup back to
warm again, without letting it boil. Add then a little cognac, in which
you have steeped a bunch of thyme, two laurel leaves, and a little
bunch of parsley, tarragon and chervil. Finish your soup by adding six
ounces of fresh butter, and serve with sippets of fried bread.



CHAPTER V

SIMPSON'S


The battle-painter and I were walking down the Strand, uncertain where
to lunch, when just by the theatrical bookshop a man in a shabby suit
of tweed and a billycock hat, drawn rather low down on his forehead,
passed us quickly, looking into our faces for a second as he did so.
"It's Smith," said the battle-painter. "Poor fellow!"

It was the man we had been talking about only that morning, the good
fellow who had been at school with me, who had made a voyage on board a
P. and O. in which both the battle-painter and I had gone out to India,
and had been the life and soul of the ship; with whom we had spent a
week in his station on the Bombay side, and who had come on a return
visit to me in the Punjab when the battle-painter honoured me with his
company at the quiet little garrison where I was quartered at the time.
We knew he had left his cavalry regiment, and had heard vaguely that he
had come to grief through some financial smash. Here was our man, and
we turned at once and went after him.

"I didn't think you fellows would know me in this kit," he said, when
we caught him up and laid friendly hands on him. "Most people don't
seem over-anxious to recognise me now." He certainly did not look
flourishing, though he had the smart carriage of the soldier about him,
was as carefully shaved, and his light moustache as carefully trimmed,
as if he were going on parade, and had the old buoyancy of manner.
"Where will you come and lunch with us?" we both asked in a breath.
"It's my dinner hour now," he told us, and somehow there was a touch of
pathos in the way he said it. We proposed the Savoy grill-room to him,
or Romano's across the way; but he said that, if we were anxious that
he should come and eat with us, he would sooner have a cut from the
saddle of mutton at Simpson's than anything else.

We turned back and went into the entrance to the old-fashioned
eating-place, with its imitation marble columns, its coloured tile
floor, its trees in tubs, and its two placards on either side, one
announcing that a dinner from the joint is to be had for 2s. 6d., and
the other that a fish dinner for 2s. 9d. is served from 12.30 P.M. to
8.30 P.M. Smith changed his mind. The last fish dinner he had eaten
was at Greenwich more than half a dozen years ago, when he had asked a
party of thirty down to celebrate an investment that was going to make
his fortune, and if we didn't mind he would eat another now.

We took three seats at the end of one of the tables in the downstairs
room. Smith looked round with an air of recognition. Nothing had
changed, he said, since the days when he used to come to get a cut
from the joint after a day's racing. And, indeed, Simpson's does not
look like a place that changes. The big dumb-waiter in the centre of
the room, almost as tall as a catafalque, with its burden of glasses
and decanters, and four plated wine-coolers, one at each corner as
ornament, the divisions with brass rails and little curtains that run
down one side of the room; the horsehair-stuffed, black-cushioned
chairs and lounges, the mirrors on one side of the room and
ground-glass windows on the other; the painted garlands of flowers and
fish and flesh and fowl, mellowed by age and London smoke, that fill
up the vacant spaces on the wall, the ormolu clocks, the decoratively
folded napkins in glasses on the mantelpieces, the hats and coats
hanging in the room, the screen with many time-tables on it, the great
bar window opening into the room, framing a depth of luminous shadow,
all are old-fashioned. Only the two great candelabra that stand, a
dozen feet high, on either side of the room have been modernised.

The waiters at Simpson's are Britannic and have that dignity which sits
so well on the chairman of a company addressing his shareholders, or
an M.P. entertaining his constituents, or the genuine English waiter
taking an order. It is an undefinable majesty; but it exists.

Rubicund gentlemen of portly figure, dressed in white, the carvers,
leisurely push carving dishes, with plated covers, running on wheels,
from customer to customer.

A benignant waiter with a grey beard had stood and accepted our order,
which was, to begin with, turbot and sauce; and while with becoming
dignity he conveyed the news to one of the white-coated gentlemen,
Smith gave us a résumé of his history since we had all three parted
at a railway station in the Punjab. He had almost been a millionaire,
he had ridden as a trooper in a squadron of American cavalry, he had
fought in Matabeleland, he had tried gold-mining without success; and
now he was going this afternoon down to the City to meet a man who was
going to finance a marvellous invention of his, and presently he would
make the fortunes of the battle-painter and myself. The battle-painter
and myself smiled, and fell-to on our turbot and its rubicund sauce,
for we knew Smith of old. A fine big slice of firm turbot it was, but
I fancy the sauce owed its deep colour and some of its substance to
the artistic methods of the cook. Next Smith voted for a fried sole,
while the battle-painter and I ordered stewed eels, and as the first
bottle of Liebfraumilch, which Smith had preferred to any other wine
or spirit, was getting near low-water mark, I asked our waiter, who
somewhat resembled the ex-Speaker, to bring us another. Smith having
for the moment exhausted his historical reminiscences, we could look
round at our neighbours. Half a dozen country gentlemen up to see the
shire-horses at Islington, most of them confining their attention to
those saddles of mutton which are the pride of Simpson's, a barrister
or two, the good-looking husband of a popular actress, and four or five
well-known bookmakers, for Simpson's is essentially sporting. Then our
eels and the sole were brought. Smith said the sole was excellent; and
except that I like my sauce with the eel a little richer than I got
it at Simpson's, neither the battle-painter nor myself could find the
slightest cause to grumble. The Liebfraumilch was pleasant and soft,
and we were in the best of tempers when the whitebait, a trifle large,
and the salmon for Smith--salmon which looked beautiful, and which we
both secretly envied--arrived. A little group of men who bore the stamp
of racing men about them had congregated round the bar window while we
had been at table, and were being attended to by a rosy-faced maiden.
Cheese and celery we paid but little attention to, for Smith, now quite
the cheery, confident cavalryman of old, said that he must not miss his
appointment in the City, but that when the splendid fortune that was in
his grasp came to him he would give the battle-painter and myself, in
return for our mid-day meal, a dinner at the Savoy that would outdo the
celebrated _rouge-et-noir_ one. It was pleasant to see the good fellow
himself again, and we wished him success in his venture. Then, after
seeing him off, we paid the bill. Dinner, 8s. 6d. (Smith's salmon was
3d. extra); two Liebfraumilch, 12s.; attendance, 9d.; total, £1: 1: 3.

Afterwards the battle-painter and myself went upstairs into the ladies'
dining-room, a fine room, which is lighter and fresher than the
gentlemen's dining-room below, and there we had coffee and chatted with
Charles Flowerdew, the head waiter, one of the real head waiters as
they knew them in the old days, and listened to his stories and took a
pinch of snuff out of his presentation snuff-box. And here Mr. Crathie,
tall, clean-shaved, except for narrow side whiskers, with a white head
of hair in which a ruddy tint still lingers, found us, and under his
guidance we went farther upstairs and peeped through the glass doors
into the room where half a dozen games of chess were being played.
Mr. Crathie, who has been proprietor and, later, managing director of
Simpson's for half a long lifetime, told us something of the history
of the place, how it originally consisted only of a cigar-shop on the
ground floor and the chess divan above, how he purchased it and formed
it into a small company, and how now a larger company was to have
control of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before we left the old-fashioned house, about which the steam of
saddles of mutton seems to cling, we looked in on the Knights of the
Round Table, who have their club-room at Simpson's, who possess a
wonderful collection of portraits of past worthies of the club, and a
unique book of playbills, whose motto is, "I will go eat with thee and
see your Knights," and who once a week dine together off plain English
food at the round table, one piece of mahogany, from which they draw
their name.

 1_st March._

       *       *       *       *       *

Since I wrote the above, Simpson's has been acquired by a company which
has also taken over The Golden Cross Hotel, Trafalgar Square. The old
place has in no way been altered by its new masters, who believe in
letting well alone. Charles Flowerdew has left the upper room, and
retired with, I trust, a comfortable competency; but William, who
for many years was head waiter at the Cock, and has as fine a store
of reminiscences as any old-fashioned waiter to be found in London,
now serves in the lower room, and is in himself a mine of amusing
information.



CHAPTER VI

THE HANS CRESCENT HOTEL


If I had to set an examination paper on the art of dining, one of
the questions I should certainly ask the examinee would be: "What
occupation or amusement would you suggest for your guests after a
dinner at a restaurant on Sunday?" The Hans Crescent Hotel management
have answered this question in a practical way; and not the least
pleasant part of a dinner at the smart hotel Sloane Street way is
the coffee and liqueur and cigarette taken under the palms in the
winter garden, where the red-shaded lamps throw a gentle light, and M.
Casano's band playing Czibulka's waltz-whisper, "Songe d'amour après le
bal," sends one back in a dream to the days when an evening of dancing
was a foretaste of the seventh heaven, and every woman was a possible
divinity.

The Editor does not write long letters, but the card with his initials
at the bottom gave me place and time, and told me that I should find
myself one of a _partie carrée_. What was the exact reason of the
dinner that the good Editor gave to the gracious lady and the handsome
niece and myself, I do not know; but I rather think that it was a
propitiatory offering made for non-appearance on the editorial tricycle
when warned for escort duty to the gracious lady, who had gone that
day for a long bicycle ride. If it was so, the dinner at the Hans
Crescent Hotel, plus the excuse given, whether it was church-going or
letter-writing, did not save the Editor during the evening from little
barbed conversational shafts as to sloth and laziness and the evil
habit of lying late in bed on the Sabbath morning.

I never commit the unpardonable offence of being late for dinner, and
three minutes before my time I was waiting in the oak-panelled hall,
which, with its stained-glass window, big staircase with a balcony
at the back, its palms and great fireplace, always looks to me like
an elaborate "set" for a scene in some comedy. The hands of the
clock stole on to eight o'clock, and that feeling of righteousness
which comes to the man who is in time when he believes that his
fellow-creatures are late fell on me, when, on a sudden, M. Diette,
the manager of the hotel, grey of hair and moustache, a black tie
under his "Shakspeare" collar, and a faultless frock-coat, appeared,
and recognising me, asked me whether by chance I was the gentleman for
whom the Editor and two ladies had been waiting some ten minutes in
the drawing-room. So it came that when I went into the drawing-room,
where the two ladies were looking at the brocades in the panels and the
editorial eye was fixed on the clock on the mantelpiece, it was I who
had to stumble through apologies, and I felt conscious that my tale of
waiting in the hall sounded hideously improbable.

M. Diette himself showed us to our table in the dining-room, which
is as near a reproduction of an old baronial hall as modern comfort,
electric light, and civilisation will allow. The baron of old, in the
days when each man cut his own portion off the roast meat with his
dagger, might have been able to boast of the open fireplace in green
Connemara marble and the panelled walls, but the handsome frieze and
the carved oak pillars would have been beyond his artistic dreams. He
would probably have preferred rushes to the Oriental rugs that half
cover the oak floor, and he would certainly have thought the palmery
seen through the open French window in a glow of rosy light a vision
called up by some magician.

The Editor, stroking his pointed beard with satisfaction, was reading
through the menu, the gracious lady and the handsome niece were noting,
one by one, the celebrities dining at the other tables, and the head
waiter was standing watching the Editor with the calm but deferential
confidence an artist shows when an important patron is inspecting his
work. A minor servitor, a thin tape of gold on the collar of his livery
coat and wearing white gloves, was also in attendance, and the overture
in the way of _hors-d'œuvre à la Russe_ was before us.

In quick succession our ladies had named the tall, slim, titled lady
in black, who had come in leaning on a stick; the good-looking young
musical critic, who was entertaining "Belle" and a very pretty girl; a
newly-married Earl and his wife; the handsome stockbroker and his wife,
who in the summer are to be found not far from Maidenhead Bridge, and
at whose table were sitting the most hospitable of up-river hostesses
and her son; a millionaire, who was entertaining a tableful of guests;
and one or two titled couples whom the gracious lady knew, but whose
names meant nothing to me. I was able to add my quota by pointing out
a steward of the Jockey Club, at whose table was the owner of the good
horse Bendigo.

The Editor, having learned that we all preferred for the moment claret
to champagne, put down the menu with a little sigh of anticipatory
gratitude, and ran his finger half-way down a page on the wine list.
This was the menu which the gracious lady looked at, and then handed on
to me:--


                       Hors-d'œuvre à la Russe.
                    Consommé Brunoise à la Royale.
                           Potage en tortue.
                   Suprême de saumon à la Chambord.
                       Tournedos à la Montgador.
                       Poularde à la Demi-Doff.
                        Caille rôti sur canapé.
                                SALADE.
            Flageolets Mtre. d'Hôtel. Bombe Chateaubriand.
                       Corbeilles de friandises.


The handsome niece had approved of the people at the other tables as
being most of them interesting and good-looking, had said she liked
the table with its decoration of a ring of yellow flowers and leaves
drawn round the basket of _friandises_, and we began dinner with good
appetite and good temper.

The clear soup with its patchwork ground of minutely chopped vegetables
seen through the amber of its liquid was excellent and hot; the
fish deserved a special word for its sauce, in the making of which
an artist's hand had been employed; and the _tournedos_ with their
attendant "fixings," to use an Americanism, a symphony in rich browns
with the scarlet of the tomato to relieve it, gave no loophole for
captious criticism. We had been talking of the respective merits
of houseboats and cottages as summer residences, and from that had
drifted on to the subject of the wonderful steam launch that the Editor
owns, and inventions generally. The gracious lady had said her say on
the wonders she knew of; and the handsome niece, not to be outdone,
described the invention of the age through which by means of a little
metal case half the size of the smallest pill box, every man is to
make his own soda-water, which is to supersede all other inventions
as a fuse for big guns, and is going to drive dynamite out of the
field; and I, fired by the spirit of healthy emulation, had just
started an account of the flying machine by which I hoped to reach
Mars, to which the ladies, not noticing the twinkle in the Editor's
eyes, were listening gravely, when the waiter brought the _poularde
à la Demi-Doff_. The Editor was the only one of us who took any, and
he, in very excellent French, told the head waiter, who was hovering
round, that he thought it good. Whether it was that the gracious
lady had caught the tail-end of the editorial smile at my Munchausen
flying-machine story, or whether the non-appearance of the tricycle was
remembered, it matters not; but the Editor was gravely warned not to
talk Hindustani at the dinner-table.

The quails were a trifle over-cooked, and the artistic hand which had
made the sauce for the salmon had not mixed the salad, which was too
vinegary. I think our negative criticism must have hurt the feelings
of the waiter, who probably paused on the way from the kitchen to wipe
away a tear, for the _flageolets_, excellently cooked, were not quite
as hot as they should have been. Then the dinner got into its stride
again, for the _bombe_ was admirable.

The band had been making music for the past half-hour in the
winter-garden, and the diners at the various tables had gradually
left the oaken hall for the tables, each labelled with the number of
the corresponding dining-tables and name of the host, reserved under
the rosy lamps and the palms. The violins played with a delightful
softness, the rings of cigarette smoke curled and vanished up towards
the glass dome. From table to table the men went, saying a word here,
staying for a chat there; and at last, when the little band had played
Gounod's "Ave Maria," and ended with the wail of Miska's "Czardas," it
was time to gather in the hall to say good-night and be off homewards
to the land of Nod. This was the bill that I asked the Editor to let
me glance at:--Four dinners at 10s. 6d., £2: 2s.; three bottles claret,
£1: 10s.; cafés, 3s.; liqueurs, 3s.; total, £3: 18s.

 8_th March_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Francis Taylor has now taken Mons. Diette's place as manager. Mons.
Heiligenstein, as chef, rules the roast, and boiled, and fried.



CHAPTER VII

THE BLUE POSTS (CORK STREET)


"None of your d--d _à la's_, and remember I won't get into dress
clothes for anybody." That was what the old gentleman wrote, and it
was not an easy matter to find a dining place and a theatre to go to
afterwards that would suit my prospective guest.

The old gentleman lives his life in a little country town which is
favourable to the growth of characters; he always wears a plain,
double-breasted broadcloth coat; a bird's-eye cravat, taken twice round
his old-fashioned collar, folded in a manner that would puzzle a modern
valet, and secured by a fox-tooth pin; his waistcoats, the irreverent
youths of the club say, descended to him from his great-grandfather,
and his watch chain is a leather chin-strap. He has a particular
chair by a particular window of the county club on which he sits in
the afternoon of non-hunting days, and drinks one stiff glass of
brandy-and-water. He has never worn a greatcoat, never missed a day's
hunting for the last fifteen years, will walk a mile, run a mile, and
ride a mile against any man of his own age, and he is near seventy,
dislikes the French on principle, and has never been to France, and
comes to London as rarely as he can--very pressing business, the Cattle
Show or a horse show being the only matters that would ever bring
him up even for the day. The son, the grandson, and great-grandson
of comfortable country solicitors, he preferred entertaining clients
to advising them, always shut up his office on hunting days, and
having a surplus of the world's goods, for a bachelor, he lives a very
comfortable life in the beetle-browed old house in the High Street,
with its great garden behind, its dark dining-room with a glint of
reflected lights from polished mahogany and massed silver, its crooked
oak staircase, its panelled passages, and bedrooms, each with a huge
four-poster bed, its carved chimney-pieces and uneven floors; with, as
servants, a prim housekeeper, a fat cook--the only woman, he says, in
the county who can make a venison pasty--and an old butler, with whom
he argues as to the port to be drunk after dinner.

I know the old gentleman's tastes, for he has asked me often enough
to the wonderful oyster and woodcock lunches he gives, and the solid
English dinners in which haunches of venison, saddles of mutton, great
capons, turkeys almost as big as ostriches, cygnets, sucking pigs, and
such-like dishes generally are the _gros pièces_, and it was not easy
to select a suitable dining-place for him. He was up for the Hackney
Show; had, after much pressing, consented to dine and go to the
theatre, and where to take him I did not know.

The melodrama of the moment at the Adelphi was the play I thought he
would like, and, after passing by mentally my clubs, because he might
not care to be the one man in morning dress among a white-cravated
crowd, and the "smart" restaurants for the same reason, and also
because nothing but brute force would keep a maître d'hôtel from
putting an _à la_ on the menu, the happy thought came to me that at the
Blue Posts the fare would suit my guest well.

I went down in the early afternoon through the Burlington Arcade, with
its scent of perfumers' shops and its Parisian jewellery, into Cork
Street, where the tavern hides itself modestly.

I have but vague remembrances of the old house which was burned
down. To-day, if one did not know that the house holds still to its
reputation of being one of the very best places where old-fashioned
British food is to be obtained, it might, with its tiled floors, its
stained-glass windows and doors, its wall-papers of quiet artistic
shades, its electric light, be one of those small restaurants where the
Parisian art of cooking is cultivated. Past the stained-glass doors
leading into the wine-bars, upstairs and into the dining-room, sacred
to the male sex, with its six or seven little square tables, and two
round ones, I went, there to find Frank, the head waiter, not yet in
his evening garb, sitting and reading a paper. Frank, who, with his
white moustache and whiskers and white hair parted in the centre, has
still about him a suggestion of the soldier who fought under the old
Emperor William, has been for fifteen years head waiter at the Posts,
and is a person to be confided in; so I told him particulars as to
the old gentleman who was to be my guest, and asked for suggestions.
The bill of fare, on a long slip of paper, which Frank put into my
hand would have gladdened the old gentleman's heart. There was not an
_à la_ on it--not a word of French, "sauce _tartare_" excepted, and
entrées were rigorously excluded. Frank advised soup, saying that all
the soups were made from stock, no sauces of any kind being used; but
I mistrust the Britannic soup, for we are not a nation of soupmakers,
and would have none. "Grilled or fried?" was the question as to the
fish, and after due discussion I ordered a grilled sole. I was all for
a porterhouse steak, but at this Frank put his foot down. Rump steaks
were the specialty of the house, he said, and explained how the cook
kept the great joint of beef intact, only cutting a steak just before
he put it on the grill, and this being so, a rump steak it had to be,
with potatoes in their jackets, a salad, and cauliflower. Marrow-bones
completed the dinner. For wine I ordered a bottle of Beaune supérieur
and a pint of port.

At 7.45 to the second my old gentleman, his clean-shaven, ruddy face
bringing a breath of country air with it, appeared, and as we sat
at our table and waited for the sole, of which the cook had started
the cooking as soon as I set foot within the dining-room, I was
given much information as to the hackneys, told of some marvellous
runs that the county hounds had had lately, and was lectured on the
iniquity of the farmers wiring their fences. Then we looked at the
room and the company. The proof print of the coronation of Her Majesty
which hangs on the soft green-coloured wall was approved of as being
patriotic, the frieze with its little tablets bearing the names of
authors and composers and the stained-glass windows and skylight were
considered Frenchified, and the Parian statuettes on the mantelpiece
were dismissed as fal-lals. I wished that some of the stately bucks,
habitués of old days, had been dining there--Mr. Weatherby in his
blue coat and brass buttons, and a great publisher with his black
satin stock; for the young gentlemen who sat at the other tables, most
of them in dress clothes, though irreproachably correct, were not
picturesque.

Frank brought the sole, piping hot, still sizzling, from the bars. The
cook had given it the necessary squeeze of lemon, and, watching my
guest, I could see that the first item of my dinner was a success. The
Beaune, warmed to just the right temperature, was as good a Burgundy
as a man could wish with his dinner. Then came the steak, not a thin
slab of meat, but a fine, impressive solid mass of beef, great of
depth and size, the typical dish for Englishmen. I cut it, and in the
centre there was the ruddy flush which is as pleasing to the devout
diner as the blush on a maiden's cheek is to the devout lover. The
great potatoes, cooked in their skins, were so hot that they burned
our fingers, the cauliflower was excellent, and there was a delicious
beetroot salad powdered with spring onion. "Damme!" said the old
gentleman, "they understand what a steak is, here." Then came the
marrow-bones, each swathed in its napkin with its attendant square of
toast leaning up against it. Now the first essential in a marrow-bone
is that it should be hot, and the second that it should contain at
least a fair amount of marrow. Our bones were so hot that they could
hardly be held in spite of the protecting napkin, and from each gushed
forth a flood of the steaming delicacy.

We sat and sipped our port, and trifled with a Cheddar cheese. My old
gentleman had objected to the waiters in such a Britannic house being
of foreign birth; but I comforted him by telling him of the battles
against the French in which Frank had taken part, and of the history of
his maimed hand. "Fought the French, did he?" said the old gentleman.
"That's good. Damme, that's very good!" He had put a date to the port,
and opened his eyes when I told him how little I was charged for
it. Indeed, all the items of my bill were small. Dinners, 10s. 6d.;
Burgundy, 7s.; port, 5s. 6d.; total, £1: 3s.

"I hope you have not dined badly?" I asked my guest as we rose to
take cab for the Adelphi. "Well, my boy; _very_ well," said the old
gentleman.

 15_th March._



CHAPTER VIII

VERREY'S (REGENT STREET)


The little curly-headed, light-haired page, who is the modern Mercury,
in that he gives warning when one is rung up at the telephone in the
club, came to me in the reading-room and told me that a lady at the
Hotel Cecil wished to speak to me.

"Hullo! Are you there?" was answered by a "Yes" in a lady's voice, and
in a few seconds I was informed that Myra Washington was in London,
that she would like to see me, that she would be busy all the afternoon
shopping, but that if I was not otherwise engaged I might take her out
to dinner and to a show afterwards.

Mrs. Washington is a lady whom it is a liberal education to have the
honour of being acquainted with, for she knows most people who are
worth knowing in Europe, has been to most places worth seeing, and is
in every way cosmopolitan. She is generally taken for a Russian, until
she speaks, chiefly, I think, because of her hair, which is so light
that it is almost white, and because she smokes cigarettes at every
possible moment. She is to be found in Paris, where she has a flat in
one of the avenues branching from the Arc de Triomphe, and where she
is kind enough, most years, to give me _déjeuner_ on the morning of
the Grand Prix. But her movements are always erratic. I first made her
acquaintance at Suez, where I had the honour to be recorded on the
tablets of her memory as having delivered her from some impertinent
Arab hawkers, and she showed me what American hospitality is during the
exhibition at Chicago, in which city her husband, John P. Washington,
is always making or losing fortunes in the wheat pit.

I was glad, therefore, to hear the pretty lady's voice again, even
though filtered through a telephone, and I proposed innumerable plans
to her. She had come to London from Cannes to meet John, who was
running over from America for a couple of days on business, and wanted
to do as much as possible in the shortest time. She had been to the
Gaiety after dining at the Savoy her first night in London, had lunched
at Willis's and seen a matinée at Daly's, dined at the Princes' Hall
and spent the evening at the Palace on the second, and now I was to be
responsible for her evening's amusement on the third evening.

Did she know Verrey's? And as a reply I was asked whether I thought she
knew her own name. Then would she dine with me at the restaurant in
Regent Street, and I would have a box for her at the Empire afterwards?
and Mrs. Washington said she would. "If I may, I will come and call
for you at a little before eight," I said promptly, and Mrs. Washington
wanted to know whether there were bandits in Regent Street. Eventually,
I was told that if I was cooling my feet in the entrance at 8 to a
second I should have the felicity of helping her out of her cab.

To give Mrs. Washington a satisfactory dinner is not one of the easiest
things in the world, for she understands the art of dining, and is,
as well, a most excellent cook herself when she chooses; so it was
with a full sense of the responsibility I had incurred that I sought
Mr. Krehl, the elder of the two brothers in whose hands Verrey's now
is, and found him in the café. He knew Mrs. Washington, of course,
and hearing that it was she who was to be my guest, he called in his
brother Albert, almost a twin in resemblance to him, who now devotes
all his time to the management of the restaurant, and we held a solemn
council of three. I am a very strong believer myself in small dinners,
but it was difficult to make up a menu which would be sufficiently
substantial, without appearing gluttonous, for two. I held out against
the second entrée; but the sense of the house was distinctly against
me, and the _pouding Saxon_ was an addition that I did not approve of,
but gave in, being outvoted. This was the dinner that we settled on
before I started home to dress:--


                            Petite marmite.
                           Œufs à la Russe.
                Soufflé de filets de sole à la Verrey.
                           Timbale Lucullus.
                  Noisettes d'agneau à la Princesse.
                      Petits pois à la Française.
                            Pommes Mirelle.
                  Aiguillettes de caneton à l'Orange.
                          Salade Vénétienne.
                            Pouding Saxon.
                           Salade de fruits.


Mrs. Washington, enveloped in a great furry white cloak, and with
a lace covering to her head, was punctual to the second, and as we
settled down to our table in the dining-room, with its silver arches
to the roof, caught and reflected a hundred times by the mirrors, and
its suave dark-green panels, which formed an excellent background to
the cream-coloured miracle of a dress that Mrs. Washington was wearing,
she told me a few of the events of the last few weeks. She had stayed
in New York for the second Assembly, and had gone from New York to the
Riviera, where Cannes had been her headquarters, and I incidentally was
given full particulars as to doings of the ladies' club there. Now,
pausing for one night in Paris to see the new Palais Royal piece, which
is a play, so Mrs. Washington says, that no respectable girl could take
her grandmother to see, she had run over to England to meet John, and
afterwards was going to leisurely travel to Seville, getting there in
time for the Holy Week processions.

The soup, admirably hot, had been placed before us by the waiter,
in plain evening clothes, while Mrs. Washington talked and pulled
off her long white gloves, and before using her spoon she took in
the company dining at the many little square tables, lighted by
wax red-shaded candles, in one comprehensive glance; smiled to the
well-known journalist whose love for dogs forms a bond between him and
the Messrs. Krehl, themselves powers in the dog world; thought that the
ruddy-haired prima donna looked well and showed no signs of her recent
illness; wanted to know if it was true that the celebrated musician,
who was dining with his wife, was to be included in the next birthday
list of honours; and nodded to a gentleman with long black whiskers,
her banker in Paris, who was entertaining a party of a dozen.

The _œufs à la Russe_, with their attendant _vodkhi_, met with Mrs.
Washington's approval: there were no flies on them, was her expression.
We did not quite agree as to the _soufflé_, I daring to say that
though the fish part of the dish was admirable I thought the _soufflé_
covering might have been lighter, a statement which my guest at once
countered, and, by her superior knowledge of culinary detail reduced me
to silence, overcome but certainly not convinced. As to the _timbale_,
with its savoury contents of quenelles, foie gras, cocks'-combs, and
truffles, there could be no two opinions; it was excellent, and the
same might be said of the _noisettes_, each with its accompanying
_fond d'artichaut_, and the new peas with a leaf of mint boiled with
them. Mrs. Washington would have preferred _pommes soufflées_ to
_pommes Mirelle_, but I could hardly have known that when ordering
dinner. The Venetian salad, a little tower of many-coloured vegetables,
looking like poker chips, Mrs. Washington said, peas, beans, truffles,
potatoes, beetroot, flavoured by a slice of _saucisson_ and dressed
with whipped white of eggs, was one of the triumphs of the dinner, and
so was the _salade de fruits_. For Mrs. Washington to praise a fruit
salad is a high honour, for she is one of the favoured people for whom
François, late of the Grand Hotel, Monte Carlo and now of the Hotel
Cecil, deigns to mix one with his own hands. The gourmets of Europe say
that as a salad maker no man can approach François. I personally uphold
the fruit salads that Frederic, of the Tour d'Argent, makes as being
perfection, but Europe and America vote for François. I was told that
the _pouding Saxon_ was an unnecessary item, and I was rather glad, for
I had shied at it when ordering dinner.

I reminded Mrs. Washington, who was sipping her Perrier-Jouët lazily,
that the Empire ballet begins comparatively early, and to be in time
for it, which she insisted on, we had to hurry over our coffee (which
is always admirable at Verrey's) and liqueurs, and the cigarette, which
is a necessary of life to the lady. Then, while Mrs. Washington drew
on the long white gloves again, I paid the bill:--hors-d'œuvre, 1s.;
potage, 1s. 6d.; poisson, 3s.; entrées, 2s. 6d. and 3s.; pommes, 6d.;
légumes, 1s.; rôti, 10s. 6d.; salade, 1s.; entremets, 3s.; café, 1s.;
liqueur, 2s.; cigarettes, 2d.; Perrier-Jouët, 1889, 13s.; total, £2:
4: 2.

 22_nd March_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I asked Mr. Albert Krehl to give me an idea of any special dishes which
Verrey's is proud of, and pausing by the way to tell me how the house
has always tried to wean its patrons from the cut from the joint at
déjeuner time, and to induce them to eat small and light dinners, he
said that entremet ices were one of the delights that Verrey's prides
itself on, dwelt lovingly on a description of an _entrecôte Olga_, and
then reeled off _œufs à la Russe, omelette foies de volaille, sole
Polignac, filets de sole à la Belle Otero, glace Trianon, sole à la
Verrey,_ which has a flavouring of Parmesan, _moules à la Marinière,
poulet Parmentier en casserole_.

If the Messrs. Krehl counsel small dinners in the salle, they do not
always do so for the private rooms upstairs. This is the menu of a
dinner at which H.R.H. the Prince of Wales was present:--


                          Œufs à la Kavigote
                               (Vodkhi).
                  Bisque d'écrevisses. Consommé Okra.
                        Rougets à la Muscovite.
                      Selle de mouton de Galles.
                 Haricots panachés. Tomates au gratin.
                           Pommes soufflées.
                           Timbale Lucullus.
                  Fonds d'artichauts. Crème pistache.
                                Grouse.
                             Salad Rachel.
                      Biscuit glacé à la Verrey.
                         Soufflé de laitances.
                               Dessert.


Mr. Krehl gave me the _recette_ of the _timbales à la Lucullus_. Here
it is--


TIMBALE LUCULLUS

_La garniture Lucullus se compose de: crêtes de coq, rognons de coq,
truffes en lames, quenelles de volaille truffées, champignons, foie
gras dans une demi-glace bien réduite, un filet de madère, et un jus de
truffes._

[Illustration]

The Lucullus garnish is composed of cocks' combs, cocks' kidneys,
truffles cut in slices, chicken quenelles, made with truffles,
mushrooms, foie-gras well stewed down in a semi-liquid glaze,[1] with
just a suspicion of Madeira, and a gravy made from truffles.

[1] Or a glaze which has not been boiled down so as to make it a very
stiff jelly.



CHAPTER IX

THE HOTEL CECIL (THE STRAND)


It was in the noble cause of conversion of fellow-man that I dined at
the Hotel Cecil. One of my uncles, the Nabob--so called by us because
he spent many years in the gorgeous East--affects the belief that
there is no good curry to be had outside the portals of his club,
the East India; and for that reason, when he is not dining at home,
dines nowhere but there. I would not dare to trifle with the Nabob's
digestion, for I have reason to believe that he has remembered me in
his will; but I also thought that he should not be allowed to go to his
grave with the erroneous impression that curry can only be made out of
India in St. James's Square. I have eaten good curry at the Criterion,
where a sable gentleman is charged with its preparation, and I also
remembered that at the Cecil they make a speciality of their curries.

The Nabob, doubting much, said that he would dine with me; and, with
the possibility of the alteration of the terms of that will always
before me, I went down to the Hotel Cecil to interview M. Bertini on
the morning of the day of the dinner.

Three gentlemen in gorgeous uniforms, and with as much gold lace round
their caps as a field-marshal wears, received me at the door. A clerk
in the reception bureau took my card, wrote something mysterious on a
slip of paper, and sent a page-boy in blue off on the search for M.
Bertini, while I stood and contemplated the great marble staircase.

M. Bertini would see me directly, I was told; and I went down a floor
or two in the lift and was shown into a comfortable room, the big table
in the centre covered with papers, a telephone at either side of the
armchair by the table, and on the walls sketches for the uniforms of
the gentlemen with gold-laced caps who had received me, a caricature of
M. Bertini, and drawings of various Continental hotels. A yellow dog
which had been asleep under the chiffonier rose, stretched himself,
inspected me, and apparently thought me harmless, for he went to sleep
again. Presently in came M. Bertini himself, looking cool and neat, his
beard closely clipped, his moustache brushed out. I had interfered with
his morning round of inspection; but he could spare a minute or two to
talk over my needs for the evening. I told him at once what I wanted: a
dinner for two with the curry course as the most important item, and M.
Bertini, who is an expert in cookery, took a slip of paper and sketched
out a menu. Here it is:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                       Consommé Sarah Bernhardt.
                      Filet de sole à la Garbure.
                  Côtes en chevreuil. Sauce poivrade.
                     Haricots verts à la Villars.
                             Pommes Cécil.
              Mousse de foie gras et jambon au champagne.
                          Curry à l'Indienne.
                        Bombay Duck, etc. etc.
                               Asperges.
                           Bombe à la Cecil.
                     Petites friandises choisies.


We had a table in the corner of the great restaurant, with its dozen
marble pillars, its walnut panelling, its tapestries, the gilt Cecil
arms on a great square of red velvet, its great crystal lamps that
hold the electric light, its fireplaces of Sicilian marble, its gilt
ceiling, its musicians' gallery in one corner. The waiters with their
white aprons bustled silently about setting down the _hors-d'œuvre_,
the important person with the silver chain round his neck took the
order for a bottle of Deutz and Gelderman, and the curry cook, clothed
in white samite, and with his turban neatly rolled, came up to make
his salaam, and was immediately tackled by the Nabob, who in fluent
Hindustani put him through an examination in the art of curry-making,
which was apparently satisfactory, for he was dismissed with a _Bot
atcha_.

Then the Nabob, hook-nosed, clean-shaven, except for two thin
side-whiskers, turned to me. "When I was at Mhow, in '54, Holkar--not
the present man, but his grandfather, had a curry cook named Afiz,
who----" and just then the waiter brought the soup, which I was glad
of, for I knew my uncle's story of Holkar and Afiz, and how the cook
was to have been beheaded for giving his Highness a mutton curry
instead of an egg one, and was saved by the Nabob's interference,
and I knew that it took half an hour in the telling. The _consommé
Sarah Bernhardt_, which has a foundation of turtle, to which is added
_consommé de volaille, quenelles_ and parsley, was worthy of M. Coste,
erstwhile of Cubats', the gorgeous restaurant in the Champs Elysées,
who has deserted the banks of the Seine for those of the Thames; and
the _filet de sole à la Garbure_, over the description of the cooking
of which M. Guy Gagliardelly, the most attentive of _maîtres d'hôtel_,
waxed eloquent, was another masterpiece of the kitchen. It is a
variation of the _filet de sole Mornay_, having vegetables added to it.

Then came a pause, and with it the Nabob's opportunity. "Holkar never
gave a great curry feast without asking me to it, for he said that
I was the only European who understood what a curry should be----"
and just then the waiter put down our cutlets before us, and M.
Gagliardelly was at my elbow to explain that the _haricots verts_ were
prepared with flour and egg and then fried like a sole, and M. Laurent,
the _chef du restaurant_, who had been going the round of the tables,
told us the secret of _pommes Cecil_.

My uncle drew a long breath, and I knew what was coming, when luckily
a lady with a great dog-collar of diamonds passed and attracted his
attention, and I staved off the dissertation on curries for a few
minutes by telling him of the wonderful diamond stomacher the lady
possessed, which made the collar look only like a row of brilliants. I
called the Nabob's attention, too, to a quiet, almost shabbily-dressed
gentleman, dining with his wife and two little girls, for he is a man
with an estate in Australia big enough to form a principality in the
Balkans, and people talk of the revenue he gets from his flocks and
herds with a sort of awe. A little French chansonnette singer; the
editor of a Society newspaper; a well-known musician and his daughter,
who is a rising young actress, were other people of interest to be
pointed out; and by that time our two wedges of the delicately-coloured
_mousse_, with its flavouring gained from tongue and champagne and
old brandy, were before us. The _mousse_ was the only dish in the
dinner that was really open to criticism, and I do not think that I am
captious when I say that I prefer it made less solidly than M. Coste's
creation at the Cecil.

Then came the dish of the evening, a tender spring-chicken for the
foundation of the curry, and all the accessories, Bombay duck, that
crumpled in our fingers to dust, paprika cakes, thinner than a sheet
of note-paper, and chutnees galore, to add to the savoury mess. It was
a genuine Indian curry, and the curry cook, his hands joined in the
attitude of polite deference, stood and watched rather anxiously the
Nabob take his first mouthful. I myself think the Malay curries the
best in the world, those wonderful preparations of prawns, fish, fowl,
meat, or vegetable, with one great curry as the foundation swimming
in the delicious semi-liquid, which has always the taste of fresh
cocoa-nut, with half a dozen subsidiary curries, and then a host of
_sambals_, little dishes of _ota-ota_, which is fish brains pounded in
cream, fresh cocoa-nut and chili, beans, shredded ham, Bombay duck, and
a hundred other relishes; and I put next to it the Ceylon curry. But
the Nabob swears by the curries of India, and even the old Quai Haies
of his club pay attention when he gives his decision on a question of
feeding. "Er, um, yes, good," said the old gentleman, and the cook
salaamed. "Good, decidedly. I don't say as good as we get it at the
club"--he was bound to say this--"but decidedly good." The success of
the dinner was made, and I felt relieved in my mind as to the will.
The asparagus and the _bombe_, with an electrically illuminated ice
windmill as a background, were but the skirmishes after the pitched
battle had been won.

As I lighted a cigarette, the Nabob, who does not smoke, began again.
"Holkar always invited me and a fellow Afiz, whose life I saved--that's
a devilish good story that I must tell you some day--used to make one
special curry of lambs' tongues, which he called after me." "Pardon
me, uncle, while I pay my bill," I said as a last resource, and this
was the bill I paid:--Soup, 2s.; filet de sole, 3s.; côte de mouton,
3s.; haricots verts, 1s. 6d.; pommes, 1s.; mousse, 4s.; curry, 3s.
6d.; asperges, 7s. 6d.; bombe, 2s.; two cafés, 2s.; liqueurs, 3s.;
cigarettes, 1s.; wine, 15s.; total, £2: 8: 6.

 29_th March_.

       *       *       *       *       *

M. Bertini has left the Cecil and Mr. A. Judah, young, alert, with
something of the cavalry-officer in his appearance, reigns in his
stead. Mons. François has deserted Monte Carlo and the Grand Hotel
for the Strand and the Cecil, and now has charge of the restaurant.
François has seen the rise of Monte Carlo, having been a dweller in
Monaco before Mons. Blanc turned a rocky hill into a paradise by
establishing a hell in the centre of it. To hear him tell the story of
the early days of the Casino is very interesting. Mons. Laurent is now
the _maître d'hôtel_ at the Continental.

Mr. Judah was kind enough to give me the _recette_ for the _consommé
Sarah Bernhardt_, the soup I thought so excellent when I dined at the
Cecil, and I also asked him to suggest a dinner for six people, with
some specialities of the Cecil included in it.

Here is the _recette_, and here the menu, with an asterisk against the
dishes which are specialities of the Cecil cuisine:--


                       Caviar frais de Sterlet.
                       Consommé Sarah Bernhardt.
                     *Suprême de truite Astronome.
                       *Poularde soufflée Cecil.
                   Selle d'agneau de Pauillac rôtie.
                         Petits pois nouveaux.
                     Caneton de Rouen à la Presse.
                      Salade de cœurs de Romaine.
                 Asperges de Lauris. Sauce mousseline.
                   Pêches rafraîchies au marasquin.
                        Comtesse Marie glacée.
                       Paniers de petits fours.
                                Fruits.


_Consommé Sarah Bernhardt_

_II faut d'abord avoir un bon consommé de volaille; le lier avec
du tapioca grillé, que l'on jette dedans pendant qu'il bouille, et
laisser cuire environ trois quarts d'heure; y ajouter une infusion de
cerfeuil, estragon, coriandre, avec une pointe de cayenne, ainsi qu'une
ou deux eschalottes et un ou deux champignons émincés revenus au vieux
Madère sec; verser le tout dans le consommé et laisser cuire environ
dix minutes. Passer au linge fin ou à l'étamine; garnir de peluches,
de petites quenelles d'écrevisses et de ronds de moëlle coupés à
l'emporte, pièce d'environ un centimètre d'épaisseur._

You must first have a good stock, made from poultry, then add to it
roasted tapioca, which you throw in while the stock is boiling. Let it
cook for about three-quarters of an hour, then add to it an infusion of
chervil, tarragon, coriander, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, as well
as one or two shallots, and one or two minced mushrooms, which have
been soaked in old dry Madeira. Pour the whole into the stock, and let
it cook for about ten minutes. Pass through fine muslin or a sieve;
garnish with little quenelles of crayfish, grated bread-crumbs, and
rounds of marrow, cut out with the cutter, about three-quarters of an
inch in thickness.



CHAPTER X

GATTI'S (THE STRAND)


I was somewhat in a quandary. I was going to the new play at the St.
James's, and had made up my mind to dine at a little club not far from
Charing Cross, of which I have the honour to be a member. I went into
the sacred portals. I found the hall without a hat or coat hung up in
it, and entering the big room of the club I disturbed the meditation
of the club servants. There was, for a wonder, nobody in the club, no
one had ordered dinner, and as I do not like being a solitary diner
at a long table, with three guardian angels in white jackets hovering
round me, I made up my mind to go and have my chop elsewhere. My time
was short, for I was anxious not to miss a word of the first act. Any
of the dinners of the hotels in Northumberland Avenue would be too long
for my time; but I was within a stone's throw of Gatti's and thought
that I would revisit an old haunt and revive memories of my days of
subalternhood.

When I had a large crop of curly hair on my head, and just enough down
to pull on my upper lip, when a small allowance and a sub-lieutenant's
5s. 3d. a day were all my wealth and I never entered the portals of
Cox's Bank without trembling, I used to go much to Gatti's. If I had
the felicity of entertaining a lady at a _tête-à-tête_ dinner my
ambition did not rise to the Café Royal--the Savoy and Princes' Hall,
and Willis's and the rest did not exist at that time--where I should
have fingered the money in my pocket and should have been desperately
nervous when the waiter appeared with the bill. I went instead to
Gatti's. One could get a large amount of good food at a very easy
tariff there, one knew exactly the price of everything from the card,
and there was no smiling head waiter with a nest of plovers' eggs at
7s. 6d. apiece, or a basket of strawberries for a guinea, to set one's
poverty against one's gallantry. _Asti spumante_, too, is much cheaper
than champagne, and I think most of the fair sex really like it better.
Be that as it may, the financial question was the prominent one, and
I sometimes found myself standing waiting at the Strand entrance
alongside a gigantic porter and a huge hound. I made great friends with
both the big man and the big dog, and, if after a quarter of an hour's
waiting, my fair guest did not appear the big man invariably consoled
me with, "Do not despaire, saire. Perhaps the lady 'as a dronken
cabman."

Gatti's was not then as it is now. There was the straight run in
from Adelaide Street, where strange-looking foreigners sat at the
marble-topped little tables and made the most of one portion of some
dish piled high with macaroni, and there was the curving entrance-hall
leading in from the Strand, with its white-clothed tables, and its
steps up to the biggest room, and between the long gallery with its
clothless tables and the aristocratic end of the restaurant the Messrs.
Gatti sat at an oval desk to which each waiter brought every dish that
was to be served, and there was a mysterious interchange of what looked
like metal tokens. All the theatrical demigods of my subalternhood used
to be at the tables too. There I first (off the stage) saw Nelly Power,
whose photograph had adorned my room at Harrow, and a gay young fellow
called Toole, and another named Lionel Brough, and H. J. Byron, and
half a hundred more. The modern lights of the stage and the dramatists
go to Gatti's still, and no doubt are furtively stared at now by
youngsters such as I was then. There were many interesting people at
Gatti's in those days, as there are now, and most fascinating to me
was an old aide-de-camp of Garibaldi, a fine, white-moustached old man
in a slouch hat and voluminous cloak, with something of the look of
his great chief about him, who always ordered only one dish, and that
of the cheapest. The halfpenny he gave the waiter as a tip was always
received with as many thanks as a reckless young swell's half-sovereign
would be.

The entrance from King William Street is new since those days, and so
is the room it leads into, making Gatti's, with its triple entrances,
rather like the crest of the Isle of Man. I went in by this new
entrance, noticing that the house next door had also been absorbed
into the restaurant, and found myself again in the familiar scene of
bustle. Every table was taken; here a single gentleman, pegging away at
his cut from the joint, there a family party, the father with a napkin
tucked under his chin, the child with one tied round its neck. There
was a party of girls in much-flowered hats who unmistakably belonged
to some theatre; two dramatists with a bundle of brown-paper-covered
manuscript on the table between them; a little costumier in blue
spectacles eating silently, while a light-bearded gentleman, who is
the best-known perruquier in London, was telling him volubly of the
wonderful wigs that Mdme. Sarah Bernhardt had ordered for her new
piece. The dramatists would have had me stay and eat at their table;
but I wanted to go if possible to my old seat, and so went on to the
largest room, the centre of the restaurant, where I used to retain a
corner table. Not a seat was to be had, everywhere were parties of
respectable citizens and their wives in broadcloth and stuff, and the
bustling waiters in dress clothes and black ties could only look round
helplessly when I asked them to find me a table. I was the one man
in dress clothes in the room, the waiters excepted, and I began to
think, as I stood rather desolately amid all the bustle and clatter,
that I should have done more wisely to dine in solitary dignity at
the club, when I looked towards the table where the two Messrs. Gatti
in old days, when they were not at the desk, used to sit, for they
were always together, and there was the survivor of the two sitting
in his accustomed seat. The author of _Captain Swift_, who had been
sitting opposite to him, talking, no doubt, about a coming play for
the Adelphi, rose at that moment, and Mr. Gatti, seeing my dilemma,
motioned me to the vacant seat. We none of us grow younger, and as
I shook Mr. Gatti's hand I thought that, though his hair, brushed
straight back from the forehead, and his moustache are hardly touched
with grey, he was looking very careworn.

One of the managers, in frock-coat and black tie, was at my elbow with
the bill of fare. _Croûte au pot_, printed in bigger letters than the
rest of the dishes, first caught my eye, and I ordered that; and,
skipping the long list of fish and entrées, I was puzzling as to which
of the many joints to have a cut from, when the manager suggested
braised mutton, which I thought sounded well, and for drink I would
have a big glass of cold lager-beer.

I looked round the rooms. Except for the new rooms and a new
serving-room, everything seemed very much the same as of past times.
The crowd at the marble-topped tables was not quite so picturesque as
that I remembered of old; but the great counter, with its backing of
dark wood and looking-glass, its lager-beer engine, and its army of
bottles, was there, the oval desk with its two occupants was there, the
carvers with the big dish-covers running up and down on chains were
there. The decorations of blue and gold were of the same colours that I
recall, the stained window I remembered, but a new portrait of the late
Mr. Terriss, the actor, in the well-known grey suit, looked down on me
from the wall.

The soup, strong and hot, with its accompanying vegetables on
a separate plate, was brought, and, having disposed of it, I
thought that it was a good opportunity to interview Mr. Gatti as
to the transformations of the restaurant and as to his theatrical
speculations. I learned that the first state of the Adelaide Gallery
was a long entrance leading to one big room, that the floor of the
restaurant was where the cellars are now, and that two balconies at
that time ran round the room. Bit by bit the various changes were
explained to me, until the advent of the braised mutton, with white
beans and new potatoes, brought a pause. Capital mutton it was--a huge
helping too--and the lager-beer delightfully cold and light. "A concert
season at Covent Garden was your first theatrical speculation, was it
not?" I had begun, when my eye caught the clock over the arch. I wanted
to hear about Covent Garden and the Adelphi and the Vaudeville, and I
wanted to eat cheese and drink coffee and some of the excellent old
brandy the restaurant has; but the hands of the clock pointed to twenty
minutes to eight, and at a quarter to eight the curtain would rise at
the St. James's, so I called for my bill. Soup, 1s. 6d.; entrée, 1s.
4d.; vegetable, 4d.; bread, 1d.; beer, 6d.; total, 3s. 9d.

 5_th April_.



CHAPTER XI

THE SAVOY UNDER MONS. RITZ (THAMES EMBANKMENT)


The first information that I received as to Mrs. "Charlie" Sphinx
having returned from Cannes was in a little note from the lady herself,
delivered on Sunday at lunch-time, to the effect that Charlie had been
asked to dine that evening with his official chief, and that if I was
not otherwise engaged I might take my choice between dining quietly
with the pretty lady at her home, or taking her out somewhere to dinner.

I went to the telephone at once.

"No. 35,466, if you please"; and being switched on to the Savoy, and
having asked for a table, I received the answer I expected, having
applied so late, that every one was taken, but that the management
would do what they could to find space for me in a supplementary room.
This meant dining in one of the smaller dining-rooms, and as at the
Savoy the view of one's neighbours and their wives is no unimportant
part of the Sunday dinner, I went to headquarters at once, and asked if
M. Echenard, the manager, was in the hotel, and if he was, would he
come to the telephone and speak to me.

M. Echenard was in the hotel, and as soon as I had secured his ear I
made an appeal to him that would have melted the heart of any tyrant.
I wanted to take Mrs. Sphinx out to dinner, and he must be aware that
it would be quite impossible for her to dine anywhere except in the big
room of the restaurant.

"If it is possible, it shall be done," said M. Echenard, and, telling
him that I would come down by cab at once and order dinner, I switched
off the telephone, wrote to Mrs. Sphinx that I should like to have
the felicity of taking her out, and would call for her a little after
eight, and then went down by cab to the Savoy.

In the office on the ground-floor, an office crowded up with books and
papers, I found M. Echenard--who, with his little moustache with the
ends turned upwards and carefully trimmed beard, always has something
of the look of the Spanish senores that Velasquez used to paint--and
his spectacled secretary.

I could have a table in the big room, I was told, and, having achieved
this, I wanted to be given one of the two tables on either side of the
door of entrance, tables from which one can see better than any others
the coming and going of the guests. This was impossible. There was,
however, a table for two which had been engaged, but the taker of which
had given up his claim at the last moment; and though dukes and scions
of Royalty would have to feed in the supplementary rooms, Mrs. Sphinx
should have that table.

The ordering of the dinner came next, and to take on one's self the
responsibility of this with such a chef as Maître Escoffier in the
kitchen is no small matter.

_Hors-d'œuvre_, of course, and then I suggested _Bortch_ as the soup,
for of all the restaurants where they make this excellent Russian dish
the Savoy takes the palm.

_Timbales de filets de sole à la Savoy_, hinted M. Echenard, and though
I didn't quite know what that was, it sounded well, and went down on
the slip of paper. I wanted a _mousse_ for the entrée, for I know that
there are no such _mousses_ to be got elsewhere as the Maître can make;
and then M. Echenard suggested _Poulet de grain Polonaise_, and as he
described the method of cooking, and how the juices of the liver soaked
into the bird, and the essence of the chicken permeated the liver, I
gave up my first idea of the celebrated _canard en chemise_. That was
my idea of a little dinner, but M. Echenard insisted on the finishing
touches being administered by a _parfait de foie gras_, English
asparagus, and _pêches glacées vanille_. It was a dinner that had,
perhaps, an unusual amount of cold dishes in it; but it is one of the
customs of Savoy cookery to have, if possible, one cold dish at least
in the menu, for, the hot dishes being served scrupulously unadorned,
the cold ones give M. Escoffier and his staff a chance of showing what
they can do in the way of decoration.

Mrs. "Charlie" Sphinx, being a soldier's wife, was ready to the second
when I called for her, and during the few moments that I had to wait
in the ante-room of the restaurant, with its two fireplaces, its
white-and-gold paper, great palms in pots, comfortable armchairs of
terra-cotta colour, and Satsuma china, I could look with a comfortable
superiority on the less lucky men who were sitting staring at the
door and looking disappointed each time that the African gentleman,
whose place is there, swung it back to admit some lady who was not the
much-expected guest.

Mrs. Sphinx was in blue and white, and was wearing diamonds and
turquoises. She had on for the first time a new diamond crescent, and
looking round the room where everybody was smart I was pleased to be
aware that the lady I had the honour of squiring was quite the smartest
there.

And the company in the restaurant, the great room with mahogany panels,
golden frieze and gold and red ceiling, of the Savoy on a Sunday night
is as fine a society salad as any capital in the world can show. There
was on this particular evening in our immediate vicinity, a lady who
once won celebrity on the stage, which she left to take a title, and
then become the chatelaine of one of the great historical houses of
England; there was a good-looking fellow who was one of the best-known
men about town and left fops-alley at the opera for the green-room of
a comedy theatre; there was an Indian prince, the first swallow of the
dusky, jewelled flight that comes each summer to our shores; there was
the manager of one of the best-known of our comedy theatres, with whom
was dining one of the most beautiful of our actresses and her husband;
there was a lady who has the notoriety of having nearly ruined the
heir to the throne of one of the kingdoms of Europe, and whose brown
diamonds are the envy of all the connoisseurs of the world; there was
a party of South African stockbrokers, who from their appearance did
not suggest wealth, but whose united incomes would make the revenues of
half a dozen Balkan principalities. And around the tables the waiters
in their white aprons and the _maîtres d'hôtel_ and the silver-chained
_sommeliers_ moved noiselessly, and the master-spirit of the whole, M.
Ritz, just back from Rome, with his hands clasped nervously, almost,
with his short whiskers and carefully-clipped moustache, a duplicate
of the present Secretary of State for War, went from table to table
with a carefully graduated scale of acknowledgment of the patrons. M.
Echenard was there also, and there is no restaurant in the world in
which the chain of responsibility from manager to waiter is carried
out with greater thoroughness. Mrs. "Charlie" Sphinx was doubtful as
to trying the caviar. I should have remembered that she did not care
for it; but the grey-green delicacy in its setting of ice tempted her,
and she owned to almost liking it. About the _Bortch_ soup there could
be no two questions, and the cream stirred into the hot, strong liquid
makes it, in my humble opinion, the best soup in the world. The fish, a
fish-pie, with its macaroni and shrimps, was delicious, and then came
the triumph of the dinner. Cased in its jelly covering, served on a
great block of ice, melting like snow in the mouth, Maître Escoffier's
_mousse_ was an absolute masterpiece. The _poulet_, too, was as good
to eat as it had sounded when M. Echenard had described it to me, and
the _parfait de foie gras_ was another delight. The asparagus and the
ice were but the trifles of the dinner; but the ice swan that bore the
little mock peaches was a very graceful piece of table decoration.

Mrs. Sphinx through dinner, while sipping her glass of Clicquot, had
told me all the gossip of southern France; of the dance at the club at
Cannes at which she had arranged the cotillon and led it; of the races
of the big yachts for the various cups; of a magnificent scheme she
had evolved, by which, now that the Guards have been sent on foreign
service, Gibraltar was to become a second Monte Carlo or Nice, a scheme
which would involve a few batteries and casemates being removed to
make way for a casino, and when we had drunk our café Turc, brought
by the brightly clothed Asiatic, and when I had smoked my cigarette
and my guest had despoiled the great basket of roses on the table, the
band, which plays delightfully, softly, and unobtrusively, had come to
the end of its programme, and it was time to be moving. This was the
bill, a moderate one for such an admirable dinner:--Two couverts, 1s.;
bortch, 3s.; sole savoy, 6s.; mousse jambon, 6s.; poulet polonaise,
8s.; salade, 2s.; foie gras, 6s.; asperges verts, 7s. 6d.; pêches
glacées vanille, 7s.; one bottle champagne 133, 15s.; café, 2s.;
liqueurs, 2s.; total, £3: 5: 6.

When I put Mrs. Sphinx down at her house-door, her last words were,
"That _mousse_ was an absolute dream."

 12_th April_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following are the _recette_ of the _timbale de filets de sole
Savoy_, kindly written out for me by Maître Escoffier, and two menus
of typical Savoy dinners for a party that numbers six or eight, a
dinner-party in fact.


_Timbale de filets de sole Savoy_

_(Proportions pour six couverts)_

_Avec de la pâte à foncer, préparez et cuisez une croûte à timbale;
après l'avoir vidée glacez-la intérieurement et tenez à l'étuve.
Préparez une petite garniture de bon macaronis cuit tendre, lié avec de
la béchamelle et parmesan rapé, beurré et pincée de poivre rouge._

_Prenez huit filets de sole moyenne, tendre et bien blanche,
aplatissez-les légèrement, salez-les, masquez-les avec une mince couche
de farce de poisson aux truffes; roulez-les sur eux-mêmes en forme de
petit baril, entourez-les d'une bande de papier beurré. Rangez les
filets de sole dans une casserole ou plat à sauter, en ayant soin
que la casserole soit juste de grandeur pour les maintenir serrés;
mouillez-les avec un bon court bouillon au vin blanc, faites partir
le liquide en ébullition, couvrez la casserole, laissez pocher sans
bouillir douze à quinze minutes._

_Mettez dans une casserole dix-huit écrevisses moyennes avec beurre, un
demi verre de vin blanc, sel, et poivre; couvrez la casserole et cuisez
les écrevisses dix à douze minutes sur un feu vif; aussitôt vif retirez
la chair des queues; mettez-les dans une casserole avec deux bonnes
truffes coupées en lame, un morceau de beurre, tenez au chaud. Avec
les carapaces préparez un beurre d'écrevisses._

_Faites réduire quelques cuillerées de bonne béchamelle avec addition
de crème double, passez la sauce a l'étamine et ajoutez le beurre
d'écrevisses, tenir au chaud; au moment de servir garnisser le fonds de
la timbale avec le macaronis; dressez sur le macaronis les filets de
sole à la garniture de truffes et queues d'écrevisses, saucez le tout
avec la sauce préparée au beurre d'écrevisses; recouvrez la timbale et
servez bien chaud._

[Illustration]

Make a crust (_pâte à foncer_) for the timbale. Bake it and scoop
out the inside, then glaze the inside, and keep it on the stove. Get
ready a little garnish of good macaroni, cooked until it is soft, add
Béchamel sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, butter and a pinch of red
pepper. Take eight fillets of medium-sized soles, tender and very
white. Bat them out lightly, salt them, and just cover with a thin
layer of fish stuffing made with truffles. Roll the fillets into the
shape of little barrels, and put a band of buttered paper round each.

Arrange them in a saucepan, or a shallow pan (_à sauter_), taking care
that this saucepan is of such a size that the fillets are all packed
quite closely together, moisten them with a good strong stock, made
with white wine, and then let all the liquid boil away. Put a cover
on the saucepan, and let it simmer but not boil for twelve or fifteen
minutes.

Put in another saucepan eighteen medium-sized crayfish, half a glass of
white wine, salt and pepper, cover the saucepan, and cook the crayfish,
from ten to twelve minutes, on a brisk fire. Then take the flesh of
the tails, put it in a saucepan with two nice truffles, cut in slices,
and a piece of butter, and keep warm. With the shells of the crayfish,
prepare a crayfish butter.

Boil down a few teaspoonfuls of good Béchamel, with (double) cream,
pass the sauce through a tammy, add the crayfish butter and keep warm.
Just before serving, put the macaroni at the bottom of the timbale,
arrange the fillets of sole on the macaroni, a garnish of truffles and
tails of crayfish. Pour over it all, the sauce already prepared with
the crayfish butter. Cover the timbale again, and serve very hot.


                          Canapés Moscovites.
                            Pommes d'amour.
                   Consommé aux nids d'Hirondelles.
                    Filets de truite aux laitances.
                          Désirs de Mascotte.
                     Caneton de Rouen en chemise.
                       Petits pois aux laitues.
                Suprêmes d'écrevisses au Château Yquem.
                   Ortolans Cocotte au suc d'ananas.
                           Cœurs de Romaine.
                      Asperges à l'huile vierge.
                     Belle de nuit aux violettes.
                              Friandises.

                                Caviar.
                     Canapés aux crevettes rouges.
                           Consommé Nurette.
                        Paillettes au Parmesan.
                  Mousseline d'éperlans aux truffes.
                 Filets de poulet au beurre noisette.
                     Artichauts aux fines herbes.
                      Agneau de lait à la broche.
                          Petits pois frais.
                     Nymphes glacées au champagne.
                    Cailles aux feuilles de vigne.
                           Salade Mignonne.
                        Asperges d'Argenteuil.
                Pêches de Vénus voilées de l'Orientale.
                             Mignardises.

       *       *       *       *       *

JOSEPH AT THE SAVOY


"Drive to the Strand entrance of the Savoy, but don't go into the
courtyard," I told my cabman; but he insisted on driving down, and his
horse slid the last ten yards like a toboggan.

It was in the afternoon and few people were about, and I looked into
the grill-room to find a _maître d'hôtel_, and to ask him if he could
tell me where M. Joseph was at the moment. Smiler, the curry cook,
appeared instantly. Because I talk a little bad Hindustani, Smiler has
taken me under his protection, and thinks that I should not go to the
Savoy for any other purpose than to eat his curries.

It was not Smiler, however, whom I wanted to interview, but M. Joseph;
and messengers were sent to various parts of the hotel to find the
director of the restaurant.

A little man, with rather long grey hair, bald on the top of his head,
with very dark brown eyes looking keenly out from under strong brows,
with a little grey moustache, Joseph arrests attention at once, and
his manner is just the right manner. In a short black coat, white
waistcoat, and dark trousers, he came to meet me, and put himself
entirely at my service. I very soon told him what I wanted. Since
the change of dynasty at the Savoy, Joseph, who temporarily left his
Parisian restaurant, the Marivaux, to come to the banks of the Thames,
has been the dominating personality among the Savoyards. That being
so, I wanted him to tell me something of his climb up the ladder of
culinary fame, I should be much obliged if he would take me through his
kitchen, and as I proposed dining in the restaurant that evening, I
should be glad if he would think me out a dinner of the cuisine Joseph.
I ended by saying that I had invited a lady to dine with me.

"A lady!" said Joseph, in rather a startled tone; but I assured him
that the good angel who was to be my guest knew as much of good cooking
as any male gourmet, and was aware that there are some culinary works
of art in the presence of which conversation is an impertinence.

"I will give you soup, fish, roast--nothing more," said Joseph; and
misinterpreting my silence, he went on: "In England you taste your
dinners, you do not eat them. An artist who is confident of his art
only puts a small dinner before his clients. It is a bad workman who
slurs over his failures by giving many dishes." This is exactly what I
have been preaching on the housetops for years, and, being thoroughly
in accord on that subject, we settled down on a sofa in the corridor
for a chat.

I am the worst interviewer in the world. I had been told that Joseph
was born in Birmingham of French parents, that he is an adept at _la
savate_, and that the one amusement of his life is pigeon-flying;
and when I accused him of all this he pleaded guilty to each count.
Directly we began to talk cookery I had no cause to ask leading
questions. It is the absorbing passion of Joseph's life. "If I had
the choice," he said, with conviction, "between going to the theatre
to see Coquelin or Mme. Bernhardt and watching the faces of six
gourmets eating a well-cooked dinner, I should choose the latter."
When I referred to the dinner at which some of the great lights of the
theatrical world were present, and he cooked a considerable portion of
the dinner in their presence, Joseph replied that as it is the art of
actors and actresses to make an effect on the public, he wished to show
them that there could be something to strike the imagination in his art
also.

Since '67, when Joseph entered the kitchen at Brébant's as a marmiton,
he has given all his mind to cookery. He has been in every position
that goes to the making of a real artist, and even when he walks
the streets "looking at my boots" he is waiting for some flash of
inspiration. "I cannot sit down in my office and create a new dish to
command. An idea comes to me, and when I am free I try it in my own
kitchen at home. I never experiment on the public." Many other things
he told me, of how as a schoolboy he used to peep into the kitchens of
the Anglais and other big restaurants in envy of the cooks, and of the
genesis of some of the dishes in the long list of the specialities of
his cuisine. With a sudden turn to the subject of literature, Joseph
wrote down for me his contribution, made the day before, to a young
lady's album. This is it:--

"C'est la première côtelette qui coûta le plus cher à l'homme--Dieu en
ayant fait une femme."

Then, passing the table-d'hôte room, with its great marble
chimney-piece and walls with an Oriental pattern on them, on our way we
went to the kitchens, where M. Henri Thouraud, the chef, a tall, plump,
good-looking Parisian, with a light moustache, received us.

First, I was shown the means of communication between the kitchen and
various parts of the hotel, and the close touch kept between M. Joseph
in the restaurant and the chef in the kitchen, each knowing the other's
methods, for they have worked together off and on for twenty years; and
then my attention was turned to the arrangement of the kitchen and the
battalion of cooks, every man having his duty assigned him, every man
having his place in that chain of responsibility which runs from chef
to marmiton.

Every master of the culinary art has his own ideas as to the
arrangement of his kitchen, and M. Joseph has made some changes from
the arrangements of Maître Escoffier in the great white-tiled room in
which the roasting and boiling is done.

Two plump fowls were spinning and dripping before the roasting fire,
there was a steamy heat in the air, and I was rather glad to move into
the cooler atmosphere of the rooms on a lower floor, where I was shown
all the good things ready to go to the fire or the buffet.

It was explained to me that though the English beef is good for
roasting, the French beef only is used for _bouillon_, and looking
at the two I could understand the reason. The vegetables and all the
poultry for the Savoy come from France, and I was beginning to feel
quite ashamed of England as a food-producing country, when a handsome
compliment to the English mutton restored my confidence. The long array
of birds, from turkeys to snipe, resting on a bed of crushed ice with a
free current of air round them, looked appetising, and so did the fish
and the score of varieties of cold entrées, most of them embedded in
amber jelly, and the _petits fours_ and sweet-meats fresh drawn from
the oven. The carving of the harps, and birds, and Prince of Wales's
feathers out of a solid block of ice to form pedestals for ices is
artist's work, and so is the making of baskets and flowers from sugar.

M. Joseph slightly went beyond his three dishes in the menu I found
awaiting the good angel and myself:--


                            Petite marmite.
                           Sole Reichenberg.
                Caneton à la presse. Salade de saison.
                    Fonds d'artichauts à la Reine.
                     Bombe pralinée. Petits fours.
                            Panier fleuri.


We were among the familiar surroundings, the walls of mahogany
panelling, the golden ceiling; but there was one novelty, and that was
that pushed up to our little table was another one, with on it a great
chafing-dish, some long slim knives, and a variety of little plates
containing lemons, grated cheese, and a number of other condiments,
and while we drank our soup, made with the famous _bouillon_, of which
I had been told the secret, Joseph mixed the delicate liquid in which
the slices of sole were later to be placed, soaked the croûte in the
savoury mixture, and, finally, on the white filets placed the oysters,
pouring over them also the foaming broth.

The good angel was equal to the occasion. Not only was she radiantly
handsome, but she appreciated the special beauties of this most
excellent sole; and when Joseph came back to the table to carve
the duck, he knew that his audience of two were enthusiasts. In an
irreverent moment I was reminded of the Chinese torture of the Ling
Chi, in which the executioner slashes at his victim without hitting
a vital part in the first fifty cuts, as I watched Joseph calmly,
solemnly, with absolute exactitude, cutting a duck to pieces with a
long, thin knife; but irreverence faded when the rich sauce had been
mixed before our eyes and poured over the slices of the breast--the
wings and legs, plain devilled, coming afterwards as a sharp and
pleasant contrast.

The Panier Fleuri, which ended our dinner, a tiny fruit-salad in a
basket cut by Joseph from an orange, was a special compliment to the
good angel. The bill was: Two couverts, 1s.; champagne, 18s.; marmite,
2s. 6d.; sole Reichenberg, 5s.; caneton à la presse, 18s.; salade, 1s.
6d.; fonds d'artichauts, 2s. 6d.; bombe, 3s.; café, 1s. 6d.; liqueurs,
4s.; total, £2: 17s.

It was no empty compliment when on leaving I told M. Joseph that the
dinner was a perfect work of art.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following are the _Créations de Joseph_:--

Sole de Breteuil--Sole à la Reichenberg--Filets de soles Aimée
Martial--Sole d'Yvonne--Pomme de terre Otero--Pommes de terre de
Georgette--(dédié à Mlle. Brandès)--Sole Dragomiroff--Pilaff aux
moules--Homard à la Cardinal--Homard Ld. Randolph Churchill--Queue
de homard Archiduchesse--Homard d'Yvette--Darne de saumon Marcel
Prévost--Filets de maquereau Marianne--Filets de sole Duparc--Côte
de bœuf Youssoupoff--Poularde Marivaux--Poularde Vladimir--Poulet
Gd. Maman--Poulet Archiduchesse--Caneton à la Presse--Caneton froid
Jubilé--Foie gras Souvaroff (chaud ou froid)--Bécasse au Fumet--Filet
de laperau à la Sorel--Cailles à la Sand--Aubergines "Tante
Pauline"--Crêpes du Diable--Crêpes Christiane--Pêches Cardinal--Pêches
Rosenfeld--Le Soufflé d'Eve--Fraises à la Marivaux--Ananas Master
Joe--Ananas de Daisy--Les paniers fleuris aux quartiers d'orange.



CHAPTER XII

THE ST. GEORGE'S CAFÉ (ST. MARTIN'S LANE)


Whenever I have come across a Philistine who has eaten a vegetarian
dinner, he always professes that he narrowly escaped with his life.
Now this I knew must be an invention, and I was anxious to try for
myself whether a dinner of herbs meant contentment or whether it did
not, so I approached one of the high priests of the order, and asked
which would be the restaurant in London at which it would be wisest
to try the experiment. The answer I received was not of the most
encouraging. The high priest had no very great faith in the cooking at
any of the restaurants, and very kindly suggested that, if I wanted to
try vegetarian diet, I should come and pay him a visit. If, however,
I preferred the restaurants, the two he would suggest were the Ideal
Café, 185 Tottenham Court Road, or the St. George's Café, St. Martin's
Lane.

Before trying either I thought I would reconnoitre both. I passed the
Tottenham Court Road café early in the morning, when neither people
nor cafés look at their best. On the brown brick front was a gilt
device telling that it was a social club for gentlemen and ladies, and
I gathered from legends on the windows that there was a ladies' chess
club, and that the café was a restaurant as well; indeed, was all
things to all eating men and women; for on the bill of fare exposed
in the window there were the prices of fish and fowl, as well as such
entirely vegetarian dishes as haricot and potato pie and mushroom
omelette. There was something of the appearance of a pastrycook's
about the windows on the ground floor, and a damsel was "dressing"
one of them with yellow cloth, to act no doubt as a background to the
delicacies presently to be exposed. I caught sight through the window
of a counter with tea appurtenances on it.

It was in the afternoon that I made my second reconnaissance, this time
in the direction of St. Martin's Lane, and I found the St. George's
Restaurant to be a red brick building of an Elizabethan type, with
leaded glass windows and with a sign, whereon was inscribed "The famous
house for coffee," swinging from a wrought-iron support. The windows on
the ground floor had palms in them, and the gaze of the vulgar was kept
from the inner _arcana_ by neat little curtains. From the bill of fare
I gathered that I could obtain such luxuries as grilled mushrooms and
seakale cream, which cost 10d., or mushroom omelette and young carrots
sauté, which were 1s., or Yorkshire pudding with sage and onions and
new potatoes for 7d. Before I moved on I ascertained that here also was
a ladies' chess club, and that on the first floor was a ladies' room.
I made up my mind that the St. George's should be my dining place, and
the next question was how to secure some one to dine with me.

I had to be present that afternoon at a committee for a benefit
theatrical performance, and found half a dozen of my fellow
committee-men assembled. During a pause in the business one of them
remarked that the Savoy dinner about which I had written seemed to have
been an excellent feast. This gave me my opportunity, and mentioning
that I was going to do another dinner for publication that evening,
asked if any one would care to dine with me. A pleased look came to at
least four faces, but all were too polite to speak first. Then I said
what the dinner was to be. One man had to go to a Masonic banquet;
another was dining at a farewell feast to a coming Benedick; another
had promised his dear old aunt to spend that evening with her: the
guests bidden to the scriptural feast were not more prompt in excuses.

I went on to my Service club and found there a subaltern who, in
old days, had been in my company, and who would have followed me,
or preceded me, into any danger of battle without the tremble of an
eyelid. Him I urged to come with me, telling him that a man can only
die once, and other such inspiriting phrases, and had nearly persuaded
him when old General Bundobust joined in the conversation and told
a story of how Joe Buggins, of the Madras Fusiliers, once ate a
vegetarian dinner and swelled up afterwards till he was as big as a
balloon. That finished the subaltern, and he refused to go.

I had to go by myself. I opened the leaded glass door of the St.
George's and found myself in a long room with plenty of palms and
a general look of being cared for, with a counter and many long
white-clothed tables, with seats for about half a dozen at each. There
were little black-dressed waitresses flitting about, and at the tables
a fair sprinkling of men, neither obtrusively smart nor obtrusively
shabby, who were dining, and who nearly all kept their hats on. I
drifted down to the end of the room and sat at a table and told the
waitress in rather a feeble way that I should like the best vegetarian
dinner that the house could give me. The waitress suggested that I had
better go upstairs to the table-d'hôte room, and I gathered up my goods
and chattels and went like a lamb.

The room on the first floor was a nice bright little room, with white
overmantels to the fireplaces, with one corner turned into a bamboo
arbour, with painted tambourines and little mandolines and pictures,
and an oaken clock on the light-papered walls, with red-shaded candles
on the tables set for four or six. Two pretty girls in black, one
with a white flower, one with a red, were in charge, and another girl
peered out from a little railed desk by the door. In the background
was a glimpse of a kitchen, behind a glass screen where some one was
whistling "Sister Mary Jane's Top Note," and the two little waitresses
were constantly hurrying to this screen with a "Hurry up with that
pigeon's egg," or a "Be quick, now, with those flageolets." My table
was beautifully clean, with a little bunch of flowers on it, with a
portentously large decanter and an array of glasses.

The waitress with the red flower put down a little bill of fare before
me, and I learned that my dinner was to be--


                             Hors-d'œuvre.
                   Mulligatawny soup or Carrot soup.
                  Flageolets with cream and spinach.
                   Fried duck's egg and green peas.
                       Lent pie or Stewed fruit.
                             Mixed salad.
                                Cheese.
                               Dessert.


Some olives in a small plate were put down before me, and through force
of habit I took up the black-covered wine list on the table. The first
items were orange wine, rich raisin wine, ginger wine, black currant
wine, red currant wine, raspberry wine, elderberry wine. I put it down
with a sigh, and ordered a bottle of ginger-beer. Then while I munched
at an olive I looked round at my fellow-guests. There was a sister of
mercy in her black and white, with her gold cross showing against her
sombre garment; there was a tall, thin gentleman who would not have
done for any advertisement of anybody's fattening food; there was a
young lady in a straw hat with a many-coloured ribbon to it, who was so
absorbed in an illustrated paper that she was neglecting her dinner;
there were two other ladies enjoying their stewed fruit immensely; and
there were two other gentlemen of the type I had seen below, but who
were not wearing their hats.

The carrot soup, which was the soup I chose, was quite hot and was
satisfying. The spinach was not up to club form and the flageolets
topping it did not look inviting, but I made an attack on it and got
half through, not because I wanted to eat it, but because I did not
want to hurt the waitress's feelings. The duck's egg was well fried,
and I enjoyed it, though the peas were a trifle hard. Then I fell
into disgrace with the waitress, for I would have neither Lent pie
nor stewed fruit, pleading that I never ate sweets. "What, not stewed
fruit?" said the little girl with the red rose; and I knew that in her
opinion I had missed the crown of the feast. A little bowl of lettuce
and cucumber, with a bottle of salad dressing, was put in front of me,
and I mixed my own salad. Then I ate a slice of Gruyère cheese, and
finished with some almonds and raisins that were grouped on a platter
round an orange. It being, as the sign-board had told me, a noted
coffee-house, I ordered a small cup of the liquid, and said "Black," in
reply to the waitress's question.

It was capital coffee undoubtedly, and, having finished it, I asked for
my bill. The waitress pulled out a little morocco-covered memorandum
book, and presented me with this:--Ginger-beer, 2d.; coffee, 2d.;
dinner, 1s. 6d.; total, 1s. 10d. I paid at the desk, and went forth
feeling rather empty.

As I am writing, twenty-four hours after the event, I may conclude that
Joe Buggins's, of the Madras Fusiliers, fate will not be mine.

 19_th April_.



CHAPTER XIII

WILLIS'S ROOMS (KING STREET)


I was getting to the end of a tiring day in a dingy office in Fleet
Street, and the little printer's devil, who was sitting on a chair in
the corner by the fire playing cat's-cradle, had brought word that all
that was now wanted from me were a few short notes.

It is not easy when one is brain-tired to be playfully humorous as to
the European Concert, and I had struggled through a few lines, only
to lay down my pen and take up a bundle of exchanges and a pair of
scissors, when one of the clerks in the outer office brought me in a
card and a letter. The card was that of Miss Madge Morgan, with below
in a feminine handwriting "George Swanston Clarke," and the letter
was from an old schoolfellow and friend, a banker in a country town,
asking me to put Miss Morgan in the way of seeing one or two places in
London which she wished to visit. Somehow the "George Swanston Clarke"
seemed familiar, so I told the clerk that I would be out in a moment,
the scissors went "click, click, click," the printer's devil was
dispatched with a silent malediction, my day's work was done, and I
went out to greet Miss Morgan and bring her into the office.

She was a very neat and very tidy little person, of a neatness of dress
that was almost primness; but she had dark-brown hair parted in the
middle, with a shine of gold where it rippled, and dark-brown eyes
with a glint of fun in them that were a relief to her general sense of
earnestness.

I gave her our best chair and asked what I could do for her. It had
been my bad luck, it seems, to have to send "George Swanston Clarke"
back a short story; but I had added a few words, which were not unkind,
to the usual formula and that had emboldened her to ask our mutual
friend for an introduction. She had come up from the country town where
she was one of the chief teachers at the ladies' college to get some
local colour for a novel she was going to write.

I murmured that I should be delighted to do anything I could to help
her, and she explained: The novel is to be called "The Education of
an Angel." The principal characters in the book are to be two good
angels and two bad angels sent again to earth, and, as she wished to
be up-to-date, she particularly wanted to see behind the scenes of
a variety theatre, where the temptation was to take place, and the
Amphitryon Club, where the hero and heroine first meet at dinner.

I promised her an introduction to Mr. Hitchens, of the Empire, and Mr.
Slater, of the Alhambra, smiling mentally at the disappointment in
store for her, for "behind the scenes" at the two big variety theatres
is ruled with an iron discipline, and told her I was sorry that, as the
Amphitryon had ceased to exist, I could not help her in that.

Miss Morgan looked very blank; evidently the Amphitryon chapter was one
of her pet ones, and I told her, hoping to comfort her, that a number
of the former patrons of the Amphitryon now dine regularly at Willis's
rooms; that M. Edouard Fayat, who was once at the Amphitryon, is
manager; and that if she did not mind a very dull dog as host, and if
8.30 was not too late, I should be very glad if she would dine with me
there that evening, and Miss Morgan smiled again and said, "Thank you
very much."

I called at Willis's on my way homeward to dress and saw M. Fayat,
clean-shaved and rotund, with a touch of the _P'tit Caporal_ about
him and tried to order dinner; but I found my tired brain had no more
imagination for a menu than it had for a paragraph, and when M. Fayat
asked whether I would leave the dinner to him I was glad to do so,
premising that it must not be an expensive one. All the tables in the
upstairs rooms were taken, but there was a comfortable one downstairs
for two which I could have, and to be sure of the celebrities who
usually dined I looked through the book where the names of the givers
of dinners are recorded.

At half-past eight to the second my guest drove up in a hansom. I
was prepared for a primness of attire, but instead found the little
governess looking very nice in a low-necked black silk dress, with a
tiny diamond heart hung round her neck by a little gold chain.

Our table had a cross of flowers on it and a two-branched silver
candlestick, the wax candles in which had red shades. We settled
ourselves in our places, the head-waiter placed a mossy nest of
plovers' eggs upon the table, Miss Morgan began to look rapidly round
her surroundings, while I took up the menu and glanced down it. This
was it:--


                           Œufs de pluviers.
                            Soupe Henri IV.
                      Barbue au vin de Bourgogne.
                  Noisettes de pré-salé à la Dubarry.
                  Haricots verts nouveaux de Poissy.
                           Pommes nouvelles.
                      Poulet de grain polonaise.
                      Cœurs de romaine en salade.
               Asperges d'Argenteuil. Sauce mousseline.
                          Fraises à l'orange.


Miss Morgan would have none of the plovers' eggs, nor would she be
tempted by the other delicacies offered her in their place.

"Have you begun to absorb your local colouring?" I asked, and she was
anxious in return to know if it would seem _outré_ to take notes, and
being encouraged thereto produced a workmanlike note-book. "Did you
notice, as you came in, the window, six arched, with its 'Déjeuners,
dîners, soupers, pâtissier,' etc., on it? and the tall commissionaire
and the little page?" Miss Morgan nodded her head and jotted all these
down. Then the soup was brought. A simple soup enough, as its name
would promise, but excellently hot. "Now for the interior," and Miss
Morgan picked up her pencil again. "You might note that it is as close
a transcript of a Parisian restaurant as could be found in London, the
white walls with great mirrors let into the shining wood, the scarlet
couches by the wall, the chairs with their quaint backs and scarlet
seats all savour of Paris," and Miss Morgan jotted all this down.
Then the brill, reposing in its brown sauce, with little hillocks of
mushrooms around it, was shown to us, a bottle of old hock, carefully
decanted, was put on the table, and I, at least, cared for the time
nothing for local colour, for the sauce vin de Bourgogne was delicious,
and the hock was golden.

But Miss Morgan was trifling with her pencil, and, looking over her
page, I found that she had noted the dumb-waiter in the centre of the
restaurant piled high with fruit and bundles of asparagus, with the
duck press of shining silver, the _dame de comptoir_ in black at her
little desk with a little clock above it, and the great clock of enamel
and ormolu, the principal ornament of the room. The _noisettes_ I
thought a little too dry; but I could get no opinion from Miss Morgan
except that she thought the little potato-filled open cases on which
they were served were pretty.

I pointed out to her, as a purely French touch, the black apron
of the wine waiter, the distinguishing mark from the others, all
white-aproned: explained the position of the room upstairs, and where
the distant music of the band came from; gave her some reminiscences
of Willis's in past days, and then waxed eloquent over the _poulet
polonaise_, which, with its savoury accompaniment of rice and chicken
liver, was excellent.

But Miss Morgan wanted now to know who all the guests at the tables
were. There were two _grandes dames_, Lady A. and Lady B., there were
a couple of Guardsmen I knew, there was Sir George Lewis, the British
Fouché--Miss Morgan noted that--there was a handsome lady in black with
many black sequins, there was an ex-soldier, now a power on the Stock
Exchange, and a number of other well-groomed men whom I did not know.
But this I was aware would not satisfy Miss Morgan, so my previous
glimpse at the book of the tables came in useful, and the unknown
men became minor members of the Ministry, lords, poets, editors, and
composers. Miss Morgan wrote them all down, and was happy.

The asparagus and the strawberries were excellent, and over the latter,
served in a silver dish over a silver bowl of ice, Miss Morgan for the
first time became enthusiastic. The coffee, too, and the liqueurs were
good.

I paid the bill--two dinners, £1: 5s.; one bottle 131, 6s.; café, 1s.;
liqueurs, 2s.--total, £1: 14s.; and in explanation of the lack of
detail, told Miss Morgan that in the old days of the Amphitryon we who
were not over-wealthy used, when we gave a dinner, to go to Emile and
ask him to do the best he could for us at 12s. 6d. a head. But though
I told her this I was perfectly aware that I had been treated too
kindly by the management, and that the bill should have been of larger
proportions.

I put Miss Morgan into a cab, amid thanks on her part and many messages
to our common friend on mine.

I shall be interested to read the Amphitryon chapter in "The Education
of an Angel," by "George Swanston Clarke."

 26_th April_.



CHAPTER XIV

LE RESTAURANT DES GOURMETS (LISLE STREET)


The superior person and I were chatting in the club as to eating
generally, and he was holding forth on the impossibility of discovering
any dining place, as Kettner's was discovered by our fathers, where a
good meal could be had at a very small price.

I turned on him and rent him figuratively, giving him a list that
commenced with Torino's and ended with the Hôtel Hanover, and asked him
if he had been to any of them. He had not. His system was to go to the
Savoy or Willis's, or the Princes' Hall, and then to grumble because he
could not get his meals at those places at grill-room prices. I finally
pinned him by asking him whether he would, as a man and a discoverer,
come with me that evening and dine at the Restaurant des Gourmets. The
name seemed to tickle him, and he said something about going home to
change into dress clothes, which I assured him was unnecessary, and he
then asked where this restaurant was.

Did he know the stage door of the Empire? And the superior person
looked at me in answer to that question with a look that showed me
that he had a full-blown Nonconformist conscience. I explained that
the Restaurant des Gourmets was in Lisle Street, as was the stage door
of the Empire, that I was not trying to lure him to meet any fairy of
the ballet, but that if he came with me he would very probably find
some members of the Empire orchestra dining, and as likely as not M.
Wenzel, the conductor, himself. Six was the hour I proposed to dine,
changing afterwards into dress clothes, to go to a first night at the
Duke of York's, but the superior person sniffed, and said that that was
too early for any one to eat an evening meal. So I left him, and my
ideas having been turned towards the little Lisle Street restaurant, I
wandered down there.

Lisle Street is not exactly an aristocratic locality. There is next
door to the Restaurant des Gourmets another restaurant which has been
newly painted, and which posts its bill of fare upon its front, and
there is the office of a musical publication; but most of the rest of
the houses are dingy private residences. The outside of the restaurant
is not too inviting either. It has a double window with a yellowish
curtain hiding the inside from view, and the woodwork is painted a
leaden gray.

It is well to be early at the Restaurant des Gourmets, for by half-past
six there is rarely a seat to be had at any of the tables.

At six to the stroke I pushed back the door with its whitened glass
panel, whereon is inscribed "Entrée," and was in the humble home of
the connoisseur. A burly Frenchman with a beard, another with his hair
combed over his forehead in a fringe, and a third with a slight beard
and wearing a little grey cap, were drinking vermouth at one of the
tables; otherwise the room was empty.

I sat down at one of the tables, and a waiter in dress clothes and a
clean shirt put a bill of fare, written in cramped French handwriting
on blue paper, in front of me. The first item on the blue paper was
_hors-d'œuvre_--hareng, saucisson, sardines, radis, beurre, 2d., and I
ordered these delicacies and some _soupe, paté d'Italie,_ which also
cost 2d., and then proceeded to look round.

The Frenchmen, talking volubly, had gone out. Another waiter with a
light moustache had joined the first one, and both were regarding me
with the interest the waiter always has in a chance customer whose tip
may be lordly or the reverse. Up against the window were piled little
bowls of salad, the green and white telling well against the yellow of
the curtain, and a great stack of long French loaves of bread cut into
sections which, with their white ends and brown crust, had something
of the appearance of a pile of little logs. In front of the window
was a counter covered with green baize, on which were some long uncut
loaves, an earthenware bowl, a kettle, and a bright metal machine that
had a lamp under it, and contained either coffee or soup. A comely
Frenchwoman in black, with an apron, was behind this counter, and as
the waiters gave her an order she shouted it down a little lift, and
the dish was presently hoisted up from the depths below.

At the far end of the room is a sloping glass roof, with panes to lift
up for ventilation. The pink paper on the wall under this gives the
touch of colour to the picture. The other walls are of plain panelling
painted a greyish white with pegs all round to hang up hats and coats
upon, and an occasional mirror in a dark wood frame. Placards with
"Toutes les boissons doivent être payées à l'avance," and "La pipe est
interdite" are posted round the walls, and there were some flowers in
vases on the mantelpiece. The little tables to hold two or four were
round three sides of the room, with coarse but clean napery, glass
bowls for the pepper and salt, with little bone spoons, and thick
glasses, and decanters of water. The couches against the walls were
covered with black leather, the chairs were of Austrian bentwood. The
waiter had put _L'Eclair_, a French newspaper printed with the usual
abominable French type, in front of me.

I nibbled at the bit of herring in a little saucer, and drank my
soup, which was just as good as if it had cost two shillings instead
of twopence, and then proceeded to order the rest of my dinner,
a proceeding which was regarded with mild interest by the little
Frenchman with a slight beard wearing the grey peaked cap, who had
returned.

"C'est le patron," said one of the waiters, and I promptly introduced
myself to him, and began to cross-examine him as to the identity of
his clients, for the room was filling very quickly. M. Brice sat on a
chair by my table, which now had its full complement of diners, for the
burly, bearded Frenchman, the other with the hair combed down on to his
forehead, and a third with a carefully curled moustache, had taken the
three vacant places.

"That," said M. Brice, indicating a dark gentleman with a curled
moustache, "is Chaudoir, the _chef d'orchestre_ at Sergeant Sole."

"What?" I said, bluntly enough.

"At Sergeant Sole, where they are blacked."

A sudden inspiration that Sergeant Sole was St. James's Hall came to me.

"And that," pointing to a gentleman with a red tie, "is the gentleman
who does the socialistic writing for the _Pall Mall_."

Three clean-shaven gentlemen were vaguely described as "artists," and
after gazing at a lady in black with white hair for some time, M. Brice
said, "That is an old woman." The two gentlemen sitting opposite this
lady were the Messieurs Chose, of a firm in Old Broad Street, and the
three Frenchmen at my table were big men in the greengrocery line, who
come over two or three times a year to Covent Garden.

A clean-shaven, prosperous-looking gentleman, with a young lady in
black, entered just then, and a note of admiration came into M. Brice's
voice as he told me that this was the coachman of the Baron Alfred de
Rothschild.

The turbot and caper sauce, which was the most expensive part of my
dinner, costing as much as 8d., I did not care for very much; but, on
the other hand, the _gigot haricot_, which followed it, was excellent.
M. Brice, who kept up a running accompaniment of conversation to my
dinner, told me that all the meat cooked at his restaurant was English.

There is no such thing as a wine list at the Restaurant des Gourmets,
and I had ordered at a venture a pint of _vin ordinaire_, which the
waiter told me would cost sixpence. It is a rough, strong wine, and I
suggested to M. Brice that it probably was of Corsican or Sardinian
growth. M. Brice shrugged his shoulders and from somewhere produced a
pint of claret, with the name of the late M. Nicol of the Café Royal,
on it, and told me that he was able to sell that at a very moderate
price.

The omelette that I had ordered was as light as a French cook always
makes them, and the slice of _brie_ that closed my repast was as
_coulant_ as it should be.

Then M. Brice, still talking, made me out my bill on the back of one of
the cards of his restaurant. Hors-d'œuvre, 2d.; pain, 1d.; potage, 2d.;
poisson, 8d.; entrée, 6d.; omelette, 4d.; fromage, 2d.; half ordinaire,
6d.; total, 2s. 7d.

 1_st May_.



CHAPTER XV

THE TROCADERO (SHAFTESBURY AVENUE)


I dined one day early last week at the Trocadero, a little
specially-ordered _tête-à-tête_ dinner over which the chef had taken
much trouble--his _Suprêmes de sole Trocadéro_, and _Poulet de
printemps Rodisi_ are well worth remembering--and while I drank the
Moët '84, cuvée 1714, and luxuriated in some brandy dating back to
1815, the solution of a problem that had puzzled me mildly came to me.

An old friend was sending his son, a boy at Harrow, up to London to
see a dentist before going back to school, and asked me if I would
mind giving him something to eat, and taking him to a performance of
some kind. I said "Yes," of course; but I felt it was something of
an undertaking. When I was at Harrow my ideas of luxury consisted of
ices at Fuller's and sausages and mashed potatoes carried home in a
paper bag. I had no idea as to what Jones minor's tastes might be;
but if he was anything like what I was then he would prefer plenty
of good food combined with music and gorgeousness and excitement to
the most delicate _mousse_ ever made, eaten in philosophic calm. The
Trocadero was the place; if he was not impressed by the dinner, by the
magnificence of the rooms, by the beautiful staircase, by the music,
then I did not know my Harrow boy.

Jones minor arrived at my club at five minutes to the half-past seven,
and I saw at once that he was not a young gentleman to be easily
impressed. He had on a faultless black short jacket and trousers, a
white waistcoat, and a tuberose in his buttonhole. I asked him if he
knew the Trocadero, and he said that he had not dined there; but plenty
of boys in his house had, and had said that it was jolly good.

When we came to the entrance of the Trocadero, an entrance that always
impresses me by its palatial splendour, I pointed out to him the veined
marble of the walls and the magnificent frieze in which Messrs. Moira
and Jenkins, two of the cleverest of our young artists, have struck
out a new line of decoration; and when I had paused a while to let him
take it in I told him that the _chef de réception_ had been a gallant
Australian Lancer. Then I asked him what he thought of it, and he said
he thought it was jolly good.

Mr Alfred Salmon, in chief command, and the good-looking _maître
d'hôtel_, both saw us to our table, and a plump waiter whom I remember
of old at the Savoy was there with the various menu cards in his hand.
The table had been heaped with roses in our honour, and I felt that all
this attention must impress Jones minor; but he unfolded his napkin
with the calm of unconcern, and I regretted that I had not arranged
to have the band play "See the Conquering Hero Comes," and have a
triumphal arch erected in his honour.

I had intended to give him the five-shilling _table-d'hôte_ meal; but
in face of this calm superiority I abandoned that, skipped the 7s. 6d.
_table d'hôte_ as well, and ordered the half-guinea one. I had thought
that three-and-sixpennyworth of wine should be ample for a growing boy,
but having rushed into reckless extravagance over the food I thought I
would let him try seven-and-sixpennyworth of wine. I personally ordered
a pint of 277, which is an excellent wine. I told Jones minor that the
doctor told me not to mix my wines, and he said something about having
to be careful when one got old that I did not think sounded at all nice.

While we paused, waiting for the _hors-d'œuvre_, I drew his attention
to all the gorgeousness of the grand restaurant, the cream and gold,
the hand-painted ceiling-panels, on which the Cupids sport, the
brocades and silks of the wall panels, the broad band of gold of the
gallery running round the room, the crimson and gold draperies, the
glimpse of the blue and white and gold of the _salon_ seen through the
dark framing of the portières; I bade him note the morocco leather
chairs with gold initials on the back, and the same initials on the
collars of the servants. It is a blaze of gorgeousness that recalls
to me some dream of the Arabian Nights; but Jones minor said somewhat
coldly that he thought it jolly good.

We drank our _potage vert-pré_ out of silver plates, but this had no
more effect on Jones minor than if they had been earthenware. I drew
his attention to the excellent band up above, in their gilded cage. I
pointed out to him amidst the crowd of diners two ex-Lord Mayors, an
A.D.C. to Royalty, the most popular low comedian of the day, a member
of the last Cabinet, our foremost dramatic critic and his wife, and one
of our leading lawyers. Jones minor had no objection to their presence,
but nothing more. The only interest he showed was in a table at which
an Irish M.P. was entertaining his family, among them two Eton boys,
and towards them his attitude was haughty but hostile.

So I tried to thaw him while we ate our whitebait, which was capitally
cooked, by telling him tales of the criminal existence I led when I
was a boy at Harrow. I told him how I put my foot in the door of Mr.
Bull's class-room when it was being closed at early morning school
time. I told him how I took up alternate halves of one exercise of
rule of three through one whole term to "Old Teek." I told him how I
and another bad boy lay for two hours in a bed of nettles on Kingsbury
racecourse, because we thought a man watching the races with his back
to us was Mr. Middlemist. And I asked him if Dr. Welldon had habitually
worn a piece of light blue ribbon at Lord's.

This for a moment thawed Jones minor into humanity. The story about Dr.
Welldon was jolly rot, and before the boy froze up again I learned
that Bowen's had licked some other house in the final of the Torpid
football matches, and that Eaton Faning had composed a jolly good song
about the Queen.

The _filets mignons_, from his face, Jones minor seemed to like; but
he restrained all his emotions with Spartan severity. He did not
contradict me when I said that the _petites bouchées à la St-Hubert_
were good; but he ate three _sorbets_, and looked as if he could tackle
three more, which showed me that the real spirit of the Harrow boy was
there somewhere under the glacial surface, if I could only get at it.

Mr. Lyons, piercing of eye, his head-covering worn a little through by
the worries of the magnitude of his many undertakings, with little side
whiskers and a little moustache, passed by, and I introduced the boy
to him, and afterwards explained the number of strings pulled by this
Napoleon of supply, and at the mention of a "grub shop in every other
street" Jones minor's eyes brightened.

When Jones minor had made a clean sweep of the plate of _petits fours_,
and had drained the last drops of his glass of Chartreuse, I thought I
might venture to ask him how he liked his dinner, as a whole. This was
what he had conscientiously eaten through:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                Consommé Monte Carlo. Potage vert-pré.
        Petites Soles à la Florentine. Blanchailles au citron.
                      Filets mignons à la Rachel.
                   Petites bouchées à la St-Hubert.
                                Sorbet.
                    Poularde de Surrey à la broche.
                            Salade saison.
                  Asperges nouvelles. Sauce mousseux.
                           Charlotte Russe.
                       Soufflé glacé Pompadour.
                        Petits fours. Dessert.


He had drunk a glass of Amontillado, a glass of '89 Liebfraumilch,
two glasses of Deutz and Gelderman, a glass of dessert claret, and a
glass of liqueur, and when pressed for a critical opinion, said that he
thought that it was jolly good.

Impressed into using a new adjective Jones minor should be somehow. So,
with Mr. Isidore Salmon as escort, I took him over the big house from
top to bottom. He shook the chef's hand with the serenity of a prince
in the kitchen at the top of the house, and showed some interest in the
wonderful roasting arrangements worked by electricity and the clever
method of registering orders. He gazed at the mighty stores of meat and
vegetables, peeped into the cosy private dining-rooms, had the beauties
of the noble Empire ball-room explained to him, and finally, in the
grill-room, amid the surroundings of Cippolini marble and old copper,
the excellent string band played a gavotte, at my request, as being
likely to take his fancy.

Then I asked Jones minor what he thought of it all, and he said that he
thought it jolly good.

I paid my bill: Two dinners, £1: 1s.; table-d'hôte wine, 7s. 6d.; half
277, 7s.; liqueur, 2s. 6d.; total, £1: 18s.; and asked Jones minor
where he would like to go and be amused. He said he had heard that the
Empire was jolly good.

 10_th May_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I bearded Mr. J. Lyons in his den one fine spring day and told him that
"Dinners and Diners" was going to appear in book form. He showed no
visible sign of emotion. Next I asked him if he would tell me what the
_plats_ were that the Trocadero kitchen prided itself on, and if he
would give me the _recette_ of _suprême de sole Trocadéro_ of which I
had a pleasant memory. He kindly said that I should have a list of the
dishes, and not one but two _recettes_ if I wanted them. My remark was
"Thank you."

_Caviar glacé, huîtres à la Orientale, potage Rodisi, soles à la
Glover, côtelettes de saumon à la Nantua, chapon de Bresse à la
Trocadéro, poularde à la Montique, selle d'agneau à la Lyon d'or,
salade d'Orsay, asperges nouvelles Milanaises_ form a little list from
which an admirable dinner could be designed.

These are the _recettes_ of _suprême de sole Trocadéro_ and Saddle of
Lamb _à la Pera_--


_Suprêmes de Sole Trocadéro_

Take two fillets of soles and stuff them with fish forced meat, put one
slice of smoked salmon on the top of each, roll them together, then
take a small sauté pan well buttered, and place the fillets in it,
with salt, pepper, half a wineglassful of white wine, and the juice of
half a lemon, cover it and let it simmer for from eighteen to twenty
minutes. Dress them on a silver dish, and cover one fillet with real
Dutch sauce mixed with some of the fish gravy, the second fillet you
cover with real lobster sauce. Place one slice of truffles on each
fillet and serve very hot.


_Saddle of Lamb à la Pera_

Take one saddle of lamb, and place it in an earthenware roasting-dish
and cook for about three-quarters of an hour. Prepare carrots, turnips,
and potatoes in fancy shape, and half cook them, place them in bouquets
round the saddle and put it back in the oven for twenty minutes.
Prepare some stuffed aubergines in rows on the top of the saddle, the
peas and French beans between each. To be served with a strong sherry
sauce.



CHAPTER XVI

THE AMERICAN BAR, CRITERION (PICCADILLY CIRCUS)


It was half-past seven, or it may have been even a little later, when I
encountered the recorder of racing romances wandering along the eastern
half-mile of Piccadilly, and both he and I had been too indolent to get
into the conventional sables. To him it was a matter of no moment. Many
racing campaigns had so "taken the corners off" him that, like that
excellent warrior, but distinctly casual diner, Frederick the Great, he
could sit himself down in any garb and return grateful thanks to Heaven
for enough salt beef and cabbage for a meal--which may go to prove
either that Frederick should have been enshrined among the martyrs, or
that salt beef has monstrously degenerated.

A very good place in the old days for an undress dinner, the romancer
declared when the subject was broached, was the American Bar at the
Criterion, and further than this he went by telling me of the men who
"knew their town," who swore by the succulent grilled pigs' feet to be
had there at supper-time; so there we went.

Managers come and managers go at the big caravanserai at Piccadilly
Circus, but the American Bar remains the same. The ceiling had been
recently renovated, and the fine patriotic design of the national
eagle, with its talons full of forked lightning, had been embellished
with some extra gold-leaf; otherwise there is little change. There are
the little carved cupids on the outside portals, the marble-topped
tables which are deftly covered with table-cloths by the waiters in the
usual French garb of white aprons and short jackets when the meal-times
approach, the partitions of brass rail, the marble columns, the panels
of glazed tiles, and, at the end of the room, the grill with a clock
above it, where, shielded by a transparent screen, a stout cook all in
white stands and turns the chops and the steaks on the great gridiron
where the fat drips through and fizzles on the coals beneath. The great
janitors, both of mighty girth, who stand at the outer doors, look in
occasionally to give a message, for from about twelve in the morning
to midnight the American Bar is as busy as a beehive, and each edition
of the evening papers is anxiously bought and scanned by most of the
habitués, who have, as a rule, a tinge of the racing man about them.

After ordering our soup, a _consommé Nevers_ that proved good, though
we waited an unconscionable time for it, my guest fell to pointing
out some of the many celebrities who were there, either sitting at
the tables or standing at the bar, where the many bottles on the
shelves make a fine show, where the lager-beer engine is surmounted by
a silvered statuette, and three white-coated tenders seem continually
employed in mixing drinks in tumblers half-filled with crushed ice; and
foremost amongst them was a Mr. Cockburn, a florid man of distinctly
sporting appearance, whose cheeks still bore the unsightly scars that
their wearer got in the now almost forgotten brawl with cutlasses
in a house in Munster Terrace, Regent's Park. Near him was a spare,
dark man, dressed in grey, wearing his bowler hat very much over one
ear. This was Saville, Cockburn's fellow-sufferer in the battle of
the blades, who, when the chief assailant, a Mexican card-cheat named
Tarbeaux (now in penal servitude), was about to return to the attack on
Cockburn, made the extraordinary appeal, "That's enough; don't _twice_
him!"

Then there was sitting at one of the tables a burly fellow, broad of
back and lavishly bestudded with diamonds, who the romancer informed me
was a redoubtable bookmaker. He it was, said my philosopher, who headed
the Birmingham contingent at most of the prize-fights of recent years,
and particularly in evidence were they at the Smith and Greenfield and
the Smith and Slavin encounters at Le Vesinet and Bruges respectively.
The names of the other prosperous-looking people who formed a group
round the hero of the diamonds have slipped my memory, but they all
seemed to have a nickname of some kind, and the racing romancer, when I
asked for information about any of them, invariably began, "What, not
know old--whatever the name might be?"

For our second course we took _saumon, sauce Gervoise_, and very good
and well-cooked it was, though again we had some time to wait for it;
and here it was that many eyes noted the entrance of a well-known
Oriental banker, a gentleman of great wealth, and one of the last
personages one would have expected to see dining solus and in the
plainest manner possible. That it was a favourite resort of his seemed
apparent from the fact that he walked straight to a table at which a
chair had been turned up, and the manager of the room himself came
forward to proffer those few words of advice which relieve the diner
of so much hazardous speculation. Yet other newcomers were a stalwart
ex-major of the Royal Artillery, and a music-hall agent, who in the
halcyon past had half the proprietors of variety theatres in London
at his feet. To each and all of them "Charlie," the well-groomed head
bar-keeper with the accurately-parted and immaculately plastered hair,
had something of paramount interest to impart, and he seemed so bland
that one wondered how he ever survived the friendly raids of the
olden days when a certain festive youth and his companions were wont
to take the place by storm, and on one occasion escaladed the bar,
took possession of the tills, and scrambled the shillings among the
chronic needy. What wild extravagances were they not capable of! It
was here that the undefeated racing man who used to be known as the
best-looking youth in London, and was to be seen daily in Piccadilly
with a black poodle decorated with bows of yellow ribbon, once mixed,
for the entertainment of his friends, his fearful and wonderful
"fruit-salads"--generally a couple of sovereigns' worth of hothouse
fruit steeped in the oldest cognac of Justerini and Brooks, and
_liqueurs variées_, the effects of which the friends aforesaid found
the greatest possible difficulty in sleeping off by dinner-time.

But our entrée arrives, a _filet sauté Béarnaise_, than which I
desire to eat no better. A new arrival of guests, most of them fresh
from Kempton, with their racing-glasses hung over their shoulders,
included a young man with a familiarly known nickname, who in the
first Jubilee years galloped through his money and earned his jubilant
title; another racing man, with the name of a philanthropist of a past
generation, who at one time owned a property with two racecourses on
it; and a gentleman who used to drive a yellow-bodied coach with four
piebald horses, which he alluded to humorously as his mustard-pot
and guinea-pigs, who having run through one fortune seems likely to
make another. A sporting baronet, who takes an interest in yachting;
a dramatist, who has written more than one racing play, and no doubt
finds the American Bar useful for his local colour; our cleverest
caricaturist, and a dozen or two less well-known people, formed a solid
mass before the bar, and occupied all the available tables. We had
finished our Burgundy, which for its price was exceptionally good, and
my guest had eaten some cheddar cheese, when the roving disposition of
the racing romancer asserted itself, and for our coffee and liqueurs
we must needs go to the hospitable Eccentric Club across the way, so
I called for the bill: Two consommé, 2s.; two salmon, 4s.; two filets
sautés, 6s.; cheese, 6d.; Burgundy, 5s.; total, 17s. 6d.

 17_th May_.



CHAPTER XVII

THE HOTEL CONTINENTAL (REGENT STREET)


"So you are the man who is writing those articles about 'Dinners and
Diners,'" said old Sir George, when I dined quietly last week with him
and Lady Carcanet. "Good Lord! Who'd have thought it!"

This sounded rather a dubious compliment; but pretty Miss Carcanet,
"Brighteyes" as her family nickname is, began to take more interest in
me than she had ever shown before.

Did I go alone, or did I really take the people I said I did? she
asked. And I told her that I really did take the people I described.
"Why don't you take Brighteyes to do one with you," said Sir George.
"It's her first season, and she is seeing everything that London has to
show. She has figured in print after the Drawing-Room, and one of the
ladies' papers has had a portrait of her as a débutante of the season.
Now you might lend your aid to immortalise her."

Miss Brighteyes said she would like it immensely, and though Lady
Carcanet did not think it at all the thing for a young girl to dine
at a restaurant alone with a gentleman, Sir George said something
about there being no harm in being seen with an old buster, old enough
to be her father--which was a doubtful compliment to my grey hair. I,
of course, was delighted, and asked Miss Brighteyes to choose her day
and her restaurant. There was the Berkeley, which had then just been
reopened, the Avondale, which is going ahead with its new managers,
Dieudonné's, the Continental. I wanted to dine at all of these, and
would she take her choice.

"Is the Continental the hotel with a ruddy face and red pillars to its
portico at the bottom of Regent Street?" Miss Brighteyes asked, and
when I said that it was, she made that her choice.

"Dear me! Isn't that restaurant considered a little--well, a little
fast?" came from Lady Carcanet, who very evidently disapproved of
the whole of the proceedings; but I was able to reassure her on that
subject. The ladies who sup in the upstairs rooms may not all be
duchesses and countesses in their own right; but there is no more
respectable place to dine at, and there is no better _table d'hôte_
than is served in the downstairs room. I told Miss Brighteyes that if
she wanted to see the restaurant at its best we should have to dine
early, for most of the guests were sure to be going on to the theatre
either as spectators or players.

On Thursday Miss Brighteyes was going to the Opera to hear the
"Huguenots," and was to join her aunt there, so I was asked if Thursday
would suit, and said "Perfectly." Lady Carcanet looked discouragingly
on the whole matter; but said, very freezingly, that in that case we
had better have the brougham, which could wait and take Miss Brighteyes
to the Opera afterwards.

"Why didn't you come to my Drawing-Room Tea?" was the beginning of
the cross-examination that I went through in the brougham, on our way
to the restaurant; and I explained that as a recorder of dinners I
considered myself exempt from teas, an answer which did not satisfy
Miss Brighteyes, who pouted, and said that I might have made an
exception in her favour.

Miss Brighteyes' cloak was deposited in a side room, my coat and
hat were taken from me and put in a locker in the hall, and we
settled ourselves down at a corner table in the room, dimly lighted
by electric globes and by the red-shaded candles on the tables. It
is a most effective room, as I pointed out to Miss Brighteyes, with
its oil-paintings of figure-subjects framed in dark wood over the
mantelpieces, its line of muslin-draped windows down one side, and
on the other mirrors and the _comptoir_ of dark wood, where between
two palms one catches a glimpse, under the glow of a red-shaded lamp,
of the pretty face of the lady enthroned there. A screen of old gold
comes pleasantly into the scheme of colour. "Isn't it _delightfully_
improper to be dining alone with a gentleman in a restaurant! I do wish
Madame Quelquechose could see me now," Miss Brighteyes remarked, as I
looked through the three menus, one at 10s. 6d., one at 7s. 6d., and
one at 6s. 6d. Madame Quelquechose was, I may state, the head of the
celebrated Parisian school at which Miss Brighteyes had finished her
education.

As the young lady had to be at Covent Garden at eight, and it was now
seven, I thought the shortest of the menus--the 6s. 6d. one--would
suffice. Besides, I hold that the best dinners are always short ones.
Here it is:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                           Consommé Sévigné.
                    Paupiettes de merlans Héloïse.
                       Tournedos grillés Judic.
                            Poularde rôtie.
                                Salade.
                       Asperges au beurre fondu.
                        Soufflé glacé Victoria.
                             Petits fours.


As Miss Brighteyes ate her plovers' eggs she wanted to be told who the
different people dining at the tables might be. The bearded gentleman
was one of the best-known singers, and his name a household word. The
other man with the impress of the artist strong upon him was, I was
able to tell her, the well-known Wagnerian conductor, who at the time
was constantly travelling backwards and forwards between Bayreuth and
Covent Garden. A pleasant-faced gentleman with a dark moustache, who
had smiled at me as I came in, was a well-known comedian and manager;
the gentleman dining with two ladies was a cricketer of fame. There was
the London correspondent of the _Figaro_ dining with another French
gentleman.

Our soup was excellent. There was in it a savour of the sea which
reminded me of the birds'-nest soup of China, and by that alone I
should have judged M. Baptiste Commaille, the chef, to be an artist.

Before the fish arrived my cross-examination was continued. "Had I
been to a Levee?" I was asked; and when I said I had not, and that the
reason of the not having done so was that my practical study of the
art of dining had made my tunic too tight for me, and that I was not
sufficiently wealthy just at present to buy another to use for one
occasion only in the year, I was told that I should learn to bike,
and that if I did I might come sometimes and take Miss Brighteyes to
the Park in the morning. Was I going to the big charity fancy ball at
the Empress Rooms, and if so, as what? I was not, I regretted to say,
my tunic not suiting better for balls than for levees, and my figure
not being quite in keeping with a Romeo costume from Nathan's; but I
learned that Miss Brighteyes was, and that she was going in a copy of a
costume of one of her ancestresses, all light blue with the front laced
across with pearls. The ancestress had real pearls, but Miss Brighteyes
was only to have imitation ones.

The fish I did not care for much, a _merlan_ being rather a tasteless
denizen of the sea, but Miss Brighteyes admired the cream and pink
of the _plat_ immensely, and thought that there was a suggestion for
a dress in it. Then I heard all about the recent balls, how charming
the pink peonies were at one house, and the lilies and palms at
another, and so on; and was given a disquisition on the dresses at the
Drawing-Room, of which all that I can recall is that one lady wore
muslin with roses painted on it, and ropes of wonderful pearls.

The _tournedos_, with their accompanying quarters of artichokes in
batter and scarlet tomatoes, were excellent, very excellent indeed,
and so was the chicken, delightfully brown, and done to a turn. The
_soufflé glacé Victoria_, which was brought in triumph by M. Garin, the
_maître d'hôtel_, was encased in a little summer-house of sugar, with
the names of various papers blazoned on it--that of the _Pall Mall_
being over the door, I had finished my pint of excellent champagne and
Miss Brighteyes had sipped her lemon squash, a sinful drink, even for
a girl in her first season. I was selfish enough to take my coffee
and liqueur before I told Miss Brighteyes that it was ten minutes to
eight, which put her in a flutter, for she was anxious not to lose the
overture.

This was the bill;--Two dinners, 13s.; half 88, 7s.; one lemon squash,
1s.; half tasse, 6d.; one liqueur, 1s.; total, £1: 0: 6.

       *       *       *       *       *

There have been changes at the Hôtel Continental since I dined there
with the intention of putting my experiences in print. There is a new
board of directors, and the dining-room has put off its rather sombre
livery of deep reds and browns, and has adopted instead a bright dress
of white and gold and delicate greys. The curtains to the windows are
pink, and the room is as bright now as a flower-garden. Mons. Laurent
has replaced Mons. Garin as _maître d'hôtel_.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE AVONDALE (PICCADILLY)


While I sat in the anteroom of the Hôtel Avondale and waited for the
Epicure, whom I had asked to come and dine with me, as a general
practitioner would call in a specialist in a delicate case, I pondered
over the vicissitudes which, during the past few years, have befallen
the hotel that has now come into the hands of the two young and
energetic men from the Savoy.

It opened with a great flourish of trumpets, I remember, as the Cercle
de Luxe, just at the time that Society seemed inclined to take to
dining clubs, and the Amphitryon was always full, and the Maison Dorée
glittered scarcely a stone's-throw away. I was much impressed then
with the gorgeousness of the staircase, with the walls of reddish
marble, topped by white, veined with black, and above that a broad
painted frieze, red in tone, studded with portraits of Elizabethan
worthies, which marbles and frieze and portraits remain to this day.
There were gorgeous pictures then in the smoking-room, downstairs, of
Elizabeth, or her nobles, going in State on the Thames, and hawking
and setting out to war, which pictures, when I peeped into the room
before going upstairs, seem to have vanished. The room in which I was
waiting for the Epicure was in those days a drawing-room of excessive
gorgeousness, and I can recall that I thought that it was not for a
simple ordinary man like myself to sit on yellow satin sofas that shone
like looking-glasses. Now the room has nice panels of old-gold brocade
and the sofas and curtains are in deep blue velvet. An American flag,
draped over the principal piece of furniture in the room, shows of what
nationality most of the guests at the Avondale at present are.

What was the cause of the non-success of the Cercle de Luxe, I do not
know, for the dining-room was charming, and the cookery was undeniable.
The next development of the house was as a cosy hotel, with the big
rooms broken up into little suites of apartments, the anteroom turned
into a dining-room, where a very good _table-d'hôte_ dinner was
served, and a bid made to attract well-to-do couples who liked hotel
life. I looked over the hotel at the time of this transformation, and
thought that if ever I married I would spend my honeymoon in No. 9,
which was a particularly charming suite of apartments. I am, however,
still in a state of single blessedness, and No. 9 has been converted
into the kitchen of the restaurant, for Messrs. Garin and Eugène have
broken down the partitions, restored the dining-room to its former
proportions, and are trying to make the Avondale a little Savoy in
Piccadilly.

The Epicure arrived on the stroke of the hour, and we went into the
dining-room, where I had retained a table by the window. It is a
pleasant room now, and will be even better when the new decorations
have toned down under the influence of the London climate. There are
pillars of black and white marble with gilded capitals and marble
mantels, and the walls are frescoed by some modern artist. Opposite
to us on the broadest space of wall a Diana worked in high relief in
plaster was backed by a view of the falls of the Rhine, and on either
side in panels were a lady in an Empire dress and a gentleman of the
same period teaching a _merveilleuse_ how to look through a telescope.
There was an appetising show of fruit on the table in the centre, the
strawberries being on the summit of a great block of ice. A Moorish
gentleman, who I expect does nothing more ferocious than make coffee,
made a fine splash of colour in his crimson and gold.

The Epicure having announced that he was not hungry, and that he could
not drink champagne, I felt that the menu which had been devised by the
management, and had met with my entire approval, might be too long for
him, and I thought regretfully of the bottle of Moët and Chandon which
I had ordered to be put in the ice-pail just long enough to get a chill
into the wine. This was our dinner:--


                             Hors-d'œuvre.
                               Bortsch.
                          Soles bonne femme.
                        Selle d'agneau de lait.
                        Petits pois française.
                           Pommes nouvelles.
                           Rouen Rouennaise.
                           Cœurs de Romaine.
                          Asperges de Paris.
                    Macédoine de fruits au Kirsch.


The Epicure looked at it, but said nothing; and I felt that so far
I, in company with Messrs. Garin and Eugène, had at least escaped
censure. The Epicure approved of the lights on the table, which were
like a bunch of three pink lilies, the cups all pointing inwards, but
thought that the globes suspended from the ceiling were too bright and
might dazzle the eyes, thereby interfering with the full enjoyment of
a dinner. M. Garin, who stood by in an immaculate frock coat, gave the
Epicure to understand that this should be put right at once.

The _hors-d'œuvre_ the Epicure passed without any remarks, and I felt
that they at least were satisfactory.

Bortsch is a soup of which I am very fond, and I like the softness that
the spoonful of cream mixed with it gives. The Epicure did not take
cream in his, and I wondered why, but thought it wiser not to ask. He
said that the soup was good, and I began to feel reassured as to my
dinner, while the good-looking _maître d'hôtel_, who was hovering round
our table, positively beamed on him.

The _Soles bonne femme_, with their sliced mushrooms and excellent
sauce, I thought very good; but the Epicure felt that it was time to
assert himself, and said that though the dish was undeniably well
cooked, still it was not in sufficient contrast to the soup to be
exactly the right _plat_ for a perfect dinner. I did not exactly
understand what he meant; but I shook my head and said that no doubt
that was so.

Meanwhile, the room had been filling up. A well-known newspaper
proprietor who is also a celebrity in the hunting-field, was giving a
dinner to two pretty ladies, one of whom wore a beautiful necklet of
diamonds and the other a three-fold rope of pearls, and to two other
men. A magnate of the Stock Exchange had brought another member of the
House to dine, two or three couples--Americans, I think--the ladies
mightily smart, had come in and taken their places, and a well-known
explorer, who was giving a dinner-party, but whose guests had not
arrived, looked in to see that his table was all in order.

The saddle of lamb was excellent, and as the Epicure ate the delicate
white meat, cooked to a turn by the excellent M. Dutruz, the chef, he
launched out into anecdotes as to the great love that real epicures
have for these babes and sucklings, and of the personal inconvenience
to which they have even been known to put themselves to obtain their
flesh. The peas, with the suggestion of sugar and onion with them,
also met with high approval. But the Epicure would not pass the duck.
I should have eaten it and seen no harm in it; but not so the Epicure.
"C'est un peu faisandé," he said, and would not touch it. A cut was
brought from another duck; but he would have none of that either. Both
Messrs. Garin and Eugène were on the scene at once, and explained. All
their poultry came from Paris, a fresh stock each day, and they could
not imagine how such a thing could possibly be. The Epicure was stern.
He pointed out to them that it was a judgment on them for going to
Paris for their ducks instead of to London, and incidentally lectured
us on the method of preparation of the Rouen Rouennaise. I wanted to
eat my slice of duck, so I scraped off the luscious brown sauce, and
suggesting that it might be the sauce and not the duck that was at
fault, left a bare platter. The Epicure looked at me as a traveller
does at an Earthman, but said nothing.

The asparagus, the Epicure said, was delicious, and the atmosphere
cleared again, and he also approved highly of the _macédoine_. His
claret, he said, was good, and I know that my champagne was excellent;
but just as a parting salute to Messrs. Garin and Eugène, he rubbed
some of the liqueur brandy on the palms of his hands, smelt it, and
used it as a text on which to discourse of the failure of the grape
vine in Cognac and the ravages of the phylloxera.

When I asked for my bill I told Messrs. Garin and Eugène that I thought
they had given me an excellent dinner, and not to distress their
minds too much about the duck, as an epicure, if he was not severely
critical, would not be an epicure. This was the bill: Two dinners at
10s. 6d., £1: 1s.; one 127, 16s.; half 44, 3s. 6d.; one seltzer, 6d.;
two café double, 1s. 6d.; liqueurs, 3s.; cigar, 1s. 6d.; total, £2: 7s.

 31_st May_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since writing the above the Avondale has firmly established itself as
one of the fashionable dining-places, and, following the example of
most of its elder competitors, has become a company with Hachett's, the
Whitehorse cellars, as a second asset of the company. Hachett's, of
which the dining-room, underground, has always had a good cheap _table
d'hôte_, is now managed by M. Eugène, while M. Garin is in command at
the Avondale. Amongst interesting dinners I have eaten at the Avondale,
one of the most interesting was a "Household Brigade Magazine" one,
a dinner which the staff of the Magazine, written by Guardsmen for
Guardsmen, hold from time to time. This was the menu of the feast, and
it is a good example of a dinner, not a very expensive one, for some
twenty guests--


                          Canapés à la Russe.
                 Petite marmite. Bisque d'écrevisses.
                      Turbotin. Sauce mousseline.
                            Volaille Derby.
                       Selle d'agneau Richelieu.
                          Bécassines rôties.
                                Salade.
                           Asperges vertes.
                           Bombe Martinique.
                            Ananas glacés.
                             Petits fours.
                           Soufflé Viennois.


I asked M. Garin to give me the recipe of Bortsch Soup, which I always
think the best soup in the world, and here it is, as written out by M.
Dutruz, the chef--


BORTSCH SOUP

_Ayez un bon consommé avec lequel vous manquez un morcelle la marmite
comme il est l'usage pour le consommé extra, faites blanchir un morceau
de poitrine de bœuf que vous ajoutez et une caneton que vous faites
rôtir pendant quelques minutes, le tout étant cuit, coupez les filets
du canard et le maigre du bœuf en petit carré d'un dessin centimètre,
passez votre consommé à la serviette, ayez d'autre part une Julienne de
légumes, avec beaucoup de choux. Servez notre potage en ajoutant aux
légumes les morceaux de bœuf et canard plus un jus de betterave rouge
de façon de lui donner une couleur rougeâtre et un peu de poivre moulu
frais; envoyez une saucière de crème à part._

[Illustration]

Take a good stock, and nearly fill the saucepan with it, as is usual
in the case of a rich soup. Blanch a piece of brisket of beef, add
this, with a duckling which has been roasted for a few minutes. When
all is cooked, cut some slices off the duck and cut them up into little
squares of less than a quarter of an inch, cutting up the lean part of
the beef in the same way. Pass your sauce through a linen strainer.
Have ready some Julienne made with vegetables, with plenty of cabbages.
Serve your soup, after adding the vegetables, the pieces of beef and
duck, and also the juice of a beetroot so as to give the soup a red
colour, and a pinch of freshly ground pepper. Send up a sauceboat of
cream separately.

Not only did M. Garin give me the soup recipe, but he sent me the
_recette_ of _soufflé de filet de sole à la d'Orléans_, a dish invented
by the Duc d'Orléans, who is one of the best patrons of the Avondale.
It has a double interest, through being an interesting dish, and
showing Monseigneur le Duc as being an expert in the detail of the
_haute cuisine_.


SOUFFLÉ DE FILETS DE SOLE À LA D'ORLÉANS

_Choisissez des filets de sole bien blancs, les parer et ciseler,
les farcir d'une farce de poisson aux truffes et rouler en forme de
paupiettes, faites pocher doucement avec du vin blanc, faire réduire
la cuisson, ajouter trois cuillères de béchamelle, le toute étant
bien réduit lier avec deux jaunes d'œufs et mélanger à votre appareil
en ajoutant de belles lames de truffes fraîches chauffées au beurre
assaisonné de sel et beaucoup de mignonette, placez vos paupiettes
sur un croûton très mince dans une timbale en argent et recouverte de
l'appareil à souffler, faites cuire pendant quinze minutes au four
en soupoudrant de parmesan (cheese) dessus de façon à prendre belle
couleur.--Ce plat doit être servi de suite._

[Illustration]

Choose very white fillets of sole, cut and shape them to the proper
size, stuff them with a fish stuffing made with truffles, and roll
them up _en paupiettes_ (in thin pieces, with the force-meat inside).
Well boil down the liquor, add three spoonfuls of Béchamel sauce,
and when the whole is well reduced add two yokes of eggs, and mix in
your soufflé pan, adding some nice slices of fresh truffles, warmed
in butter, seasoned with salt, and plenty of mignonette pepper. Place
your _paupiettes_ on a very thin crust in a silver timbale. Place in
the soufflé apparatus, cover over, and cook in the oven for fifteen
minutes, first having sprinkled it on the top with Parmesan cheese so
as to make it a good colour. This dish must be served immediately.



CHAPTER XIX

THE MERCERS' HALL (CHEAPSIDE)


It is not the least pleasant part of writing of dinners and those who
eat them that it brings me some varied correspondence, and perhaps the
pleasantest letter I have received was one asking me if I would like
to dine with the Company of Mercers; for if I would, my correspondent
offered to send me an invitation.

If there was one City Company that I was anxious to dine with it
was the Mercers, for most of my forebears had been of the guild. My
great-great-uncle, who was Lord Mayor and an M.P., and who fell into
unpopularity because he advocated paying the debts of George IV., was
a Mercer; my great-uncle was in his turn Master of the Company, and my
grandfather, who was a very peppery and litigious old gentleman, has
left many pamphlets in which he tried to make it warm for everybody
all round because he was not raised to the Court of Assistants when
he thought he should have been. I had looked out Mercers' Hall in the
Directory, and found its position put down as 4 Ironmonger Lane,
Cheapside; so a few minutes before seven o'clock, the hour at which
we were bidden to the feast, I found my way from Moorgate Street
Station to Ironmonger Lane, and there asked a policeman which was the
Mercers' Company Hall. He looked at me a little curiously and pointed
to some great gates, with a lamp above them, enshrined in a rather
dingy portal. I passed a fountain, of which two cherubs held the jet
and three stone cranes contemplated the water in the basin, and found
myself in a great pillared space. A servant in a brown livery, of whom
I asked my way, pointed to some steps and said something about hurrying
up. At the top of the steps a door led me into a passage, on either
side of which were sitting gentlemen in dress-clothes. I looked at them
and they looked at me, and I thought for a second that the Mercers'
guests were rather a queer lot; and then the true inwardness of the
situation burst on me. I had come in by the waiters' door.

I was soon put right, my hat and coat taken from me, and my card of
invitation placed in the hands of a Master of the Ceremonies, who in
due time presented me to the Master, to the Senior Warden, and to the
House Warden, who stood in a line, arrayed in garments of purple velvet
and fur, and received their guests.

The ceremony of introduction over, I was able to look around me and
found myself in a drawing-room that took one away from the roar of
Cheapside to some old Venetian palace. The painted ceilings, the
many-coloured marbles, the carved wood, the gilding and inlaying make
the Mercers' drawing-room as princely a chamber as I have ever seen.

While the guests assembled my host's sons took me away into another
room, which, with its long table, might have been a council chamber of
some Doge, and here were hung portraits of the most distinguished of
the Mercers. Dick Whittington looked down from a gilt frame, and Sir
Thomas Gresham, and there was Sir Roundell Palmer in his judge's robes.
But, preceded by some one in robes carrying a staff of office, the
Master was going into the hall, and the guests streamed after him. "It
only dates from after the Fire," said my host as I gazed in admiration
at the magnificent proportions of this banqueting house, the oak almost
black with age, relieved by the colours of the banners that hang from
the walls, by the portraits of worthies, by some noble painted windows,
by the line of escutcheons which run round the room, bearing the arms
of the Past-Masters of the Company, and by the carved panels, into all
but two of which Grinling Gibbons threw his genius, while the two new
ones compare not unfavourably with the old. At the far end of the hall
is a musicians' gallery of carved oak. A bronze Laocoon wrestles with
his snakes in the centre of one side of the hall, and on the other, on
a mantel of red marble, a great clock is flanked by two bronzes. Three
long tables run up the room to the high table, at the centre of which
is the Master's chair, and behind this chair is piled on the sideboard
the Company's plate. And some of the plate is magnificent. There are
the old silver salt-cellars, there are great silver tankards, gold
salvers, and the gold cup given to the Mercers by the Bank of England
and the Lee cup and an ornamental tun and waggon, the first of which is
valued at £7000, and the second at £10,000.

"Pray, silence for grace," comes in the deep bass tones of the
toastmaster from behind the Master's chair, and then all of us settle
down to a contemplation of the menu and to a view of our fellow-guests.

This was the dinner that Messrs. Ring and Brymer, who cater for the
Mercers, put upon the table:--


 _Madeira_.               Tortue. Tortue claire.
                          Consommé printanière.

 _Hock_.                  Salade de filets de soles à la Russe.
 _Steinberg_, 1883.       Saumon. Sauce homard. Blanchaille.


 _Sauterne_.              Ortolans en caisse.
 _Château Yquem_, 1887.   Mousse de foie gras aux truffes.
 _Champagne_.             Ponche à la Romaine.
 _Pommery_, 1884.         Hanches de venaison.
                          Selles de mouton.


 _Burgundy_.              Canetons.
 _Chambertin_, 1881       Poulets de grain.
                          Langues de bœuf.
                          Jambons de Cumberland.
                          Crevettes en serviette.
 _Claret._                Macédoines de fruits.
 _Château Latour_, 1875   Gelées aux liqueurs.
                          Meringues à la crème.

                          Bombe glacé.

 _Port_. 1863             Quenelles au parmesan.


I always rather dread the length of a City dinner, but in the case
of the Mercers the House Warden has just hit on a happy compromise,
the dinner being important enough to be styled a banquet, and not
so long as to be wearying. Messrs. Ring and Brymer's cook is to be
congratulated, too, for his _Mousse de foie gras_ was admirable.

There were some distinguished guests at the high table. At the far end,
where Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, the Senior Warden, sat, there were
little splashes of colour from the ribbons of orders worn round the
neck, and the sparkle of stars under the lapels of dress-coats.

The Master had on his right a well-known baronet, and on his left
Silomo. Next to the friend of the Turk was an ex-M.P., and next to him
again one of the humorists of the present House of Commons--an Irish
Q.C., with clean-shaven, powerful face.

At the long tables sat as proper a set of gentlemen as ever gathered to
a feast; but with no special characteristics to distinguish them from
any other great assemblage. The snow-white hair of a clergyman told out
vividly against the background of old oak, and a miniature volunteer
officer's decoration caught my eye as I looked down the table.

The dinner ended, the toastmaster's work began again, and first from
the gold loving-cup and from two copies of it, the stems of which are
said to have been candlesticks used when Queen Elizabeth visited the
Company, we drank to each other "across and across the table." The
taste of the liquor in the cup was not familiar to me, and when my host
told me how it was compounded I was not surprised. It is a mixture of
many wines, with a dash of strong beer.

Grace was sung by a quartet in the musicians' gallery, and then the
company settled down to listen to speeches interspersed with song. By
each guest was placed a little cigar case, within it two cigars; but
these were not to be smoked yet awhile. While we sipped the '63 port,
we listened to Silomo gently chaffing himself as he responded for
"The Houses of Parliament." Later the Irish Q.C., who spoke for "The
Visitors," caught up the ball of fun, and tossed it to and fro, and
Madame Bertha Moore and Miss Marian Blinkhorn, and others sang songs
and quartets, and my host told me, in the intervals, of the great store
of the old clarets and ports that the Mercers had in their cellars,
which was enough to make a lover of good wine covet his neighbour's
goods. And still later, after the cigars had filled the drawing-room
with a light grey mist, I went forth, this time down the grand oaken
staircase, with its lions clasping escutcheons. I passed into Cheapside
with a very lively sense of gratitude to the Mercers in general, and my
hospitable host in particular.

 7_th June_.



CHAPTER XX

IN ---- STREET


Yet another invitation to dine from an unknown friend, and this
time with a tinge of mystery to give it piquancy. My would-be host
offered to give me what he believed to be one of the cheapest
obtainable dinners in London, as well as one of the most amusing; but
as an introduction is required before any guest is able to use this
dining-place, I was asked, should I describe it, to give no clue as to
its whereabouts.

As I waited for my host at a club which happened to be not far from
the district in which I was to dine, I had vague ideas that I might
be blindfolded and conveyed to our destination in a four-wheeled cab,
and that some blood-curdling oath as to secrecy might be demanded of
me. There was none of this. My host and I walked through a labyrinth
of streets, and in due time, in an unpretentious locality, came to a
wine-shop, the exterior of which somewhat resembled the good bottles
of wine to be found within, in that it was dusty and had a suggestion
of crust about it. Inside, the piles of bottles reaching up to the
ceiling, seen in a half-light, had something of a Rembrandtesque effect.

No sooner had my companion opened the door than we were faced by a
lady in black, her hair parted in the centre, whom we had caught in a
moment of arrested motion, for she had a bottle in either hand and was
going towards the staircase at the corner of the shop. "Is the dinner
to-night at six o'clock or at seven?" my host asked in French; and he
was told that it was at six, and that he was in excellent time, for
as yet there were only three up above; and then I was introduced to
Madame, and we three climbed the narrow staircase in company.

I had been warned that I would have to bring into use such French as I
was master of, for the guests at this dinner were cosmopolitan, and the
language of diplomacy was the currency for conversation; and so when
on entering the room I was presented to a French lady and her husband,
and to an Italian gentleman, and shook hands with them, I expressed my
gratification at being admitted into this friendly circle with my best
Parisian accent.

I looked round the room. In the centre was a dining table with a clean
coarse tablecloth upon it, knives and forks and spoons and glass
salt-cellars--and my attention was called later on to the excellence
of the crystals of salt--and an array of black bottles, which those in
the hostess's hands went to join, and siphons. There were two windows,
with clean muslin curtains, looking out on the dingy street. Through an
open door could be seen an inner room, a bedroom, with a very large
bed showing as the principal object in it. The walls of the dining-room
were covered with a brown paper with a little pattern on it. By the
fireplace were hung some photographs, amongst them one of the little
French gentleman I had just been introduced to, who is a member of the
Covent Garden orchestra, and had been taken holding in his hand his
musical instrument; and on the wall opposite were some good portraits,
the work of the Italian gentleman, who is an artist. There were
lithographs and photographs of scenes in Paris, and a print of the head
of Napoleon III. Photographs and china figures were on the mantelpiece,
a cottage piano between the two windows; a chiffonnier with glasses on
it and a glazed cupboard completed the furniture of the room.

The guests were punctual, each lady as she came in, after the
preliminary hand-shaking, going into the bedroom and putting her wraps
upon the big bed; and soon Madame cried, "À table!"

We settled down into our places, leaving space for some late-comers who
were expected. At the head of the table was a dark lady with wavy hair,
an actress in a company of French comedians playing in London. Next
to her sat on one side the _monsieur d'orchestre_ and his wife--and
every newcomer made a point of inquiring after the musician's health,
for he had been, it seemed, ill, and was now convalescent--and on the
other side an English major, with a waxed moustache and a flower in
his button-hole, mighty fine, as old Pepys would have had it, and his
good-looking wife. Other guests at table were a lady with white hair,
who was the mother of a bright-eyed, good-looking young Frenchman with
a velvet collar to his coat, who was playing with a troupe of mimes at
one of the variety theatres, and who faced his mother at table; and the
Italian artist who, with carefully brushed white hair, waxed moustache,
and ample cravat, was as great a beau as the English major.

Under Madame's superintendence a servant, bare of arm and in a print
dress, brought in through the bedroom a great soup-tureen, and we at
our end of the table, who had been drinking vermouth with my host, soon
found platters of excellent _croûte-au-pot_ before us.

The evening was warm, and at the request of Madame la Majoresse, as
the Major's wife was called, one of the windows was opened. The little
bustle caused by this was subsiding when a good-looking French lady in
green made her entrance, kissed Mdme. la Majoresse, shook hands with
the rest of us, settled into a place next to the bright-eyed Frenchman,
and immediately felt a terrible _courant d'air_. This, of course, had
to be obviated; and after some discussion--and we all had our say--it
was thought that if the door giving on to the staircase was shut the
draught might vanish. The lady in green, who was a comédienne, had
brought some tickets for stalls for the Opera, which she gave to Madame
la Majoresse; and this turned the conversation to the Opera and the
artistes singing this year. The bright-eyed little Frenchman had an
anecdote to tell of how Noté, on the evening of the Derby Day, had
from the promenade of the Empire joined in the refrain of one of the
beautiful Cavalieri's songs, and how the house recognised his voice and
applauded. Both the Italian artist and myself had been at the Empire
that evening, and while we ate the boiled beef that succeeded the soup
we discussed the matter, the Italian gentleman not having noticed
the incident, I having an impression that something of the kind had
happened.

Then the lady in green made the terrible discovery that we were
thirteen at table, and Madame, who had been hovering between the
bedroom and the dining-room, with one eye on the dinner table and the
other on the kitchen beyond, was prayed to sit down at table, which she
did till the arrival of the two other guests--a lady, who had forsaken
the operatic stage for matrimony, and her husband, who came in and so
broke the spell.

A great bowl of macaroni succeeded the beef, and brought a volley
of light-shafted chaff upon the Italian artist in whose honour it
was supposed to be provided, and then we chinked glasses full of the
excellent red wine, and interchanged international courtesies.

A third actress looked in for a moment or two just for a little chat
with her friends amongst the diners, and then, to Madame's great grief,
for there was a most excellent poulet to come, the Major and the
Majoresse had to depart to dress for the Opera, and the bright-eyed
young Frenchman had to be off to the variety theatre. To make up for
this deprivation, however, another guest made his appearance, and was
hailed with joy. A most merry little Frenchman, with a very pretty wit,
the wag of the party, was the newcomer, a _fumiste_ into whose hands
had been given the rearrangement of the Savoy kitchen, and who had also
seen to the kitchen of the Cecil. He was a person of much importance,
but he joked with the bare-armed serving-maid and made her blush,
and threw Madame into a fit of laughter, and chaffed all the rest of
us just as if he had been an ordinary individual and not a European
celebrity.

The chicken was as admirable as Madame had said it would be, and a
great bowl of salad accompanied it; and then there came a sweet of
some kind and cheese and excellent coffee--"all this we get for two
shillings," the Italian artist told me--and eventually when, after much
hand-shaking, the greater portion of the guests had left, the _fumiste_
came down to my end of the table and talked soldier's talk, for he had
been through the Great War, calling me "Mon vieux colon," while my host
played the piano softly, and the lady who had sacrificed fame for the
wedding-ring sang gently an old-fashioned French _berceuse_.


 14_th June_.



CHAPTER XXI

A REGIMENTAL DINNER (HOTEL VICTORIA, NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE)


The honorary secretary of the Regimental Dinner Club, who is the
gentleman who, in one of the little rooms, somewhat resembling loose
boxes, of Cox and Co., the military bankers, presides over the ledgers
containing the accounts of Ours, had sent six weeks ago to every member
of the club, and that means nearly every officer past and present, a
notice that the annual dinner of the regiment would take place at the
Hôtel Victoria, on a certain day in Ascot week, at 8 P.M.

"Regimental dinner, sir? Yes, sir. Cloakroom third door to the right,"
said the impressive porter who, in gold-banded hat and with gold
buttons to his blue coat, stands at the front door; and farther on, at
the corner where the long corridor joins the passage, a waiter with a
cherubic face waved a cotton-gloved hand in the direction one was to go.

Hat and cloak left, an oval piece of pasteboard taken in exchange, and
a monetary transaction concluded with a gentleman at a little table,
another white-gloved hand was waved towards the drawing-rooms, and
there in the farthest room of the long suite was assembled a collection
of gentlemen in dress clothes, of all ages, most of them bronzed and
clean-shaved, though a beard here and there belonged to some one who
had left the colours. There was a glint of silver from miniature
medals and the sparkle of a couple of orders. It was not the ordinary
assemblage that waits patiently with legs apart and hands under the
coat-tails for dinner to be announced; it was an assemblage in which
much shaking of hands was going on, and intermingled with greetings
were such scraps of conversation as, "Haven't seen you for years";
"Yes, a fortnight's leave from Ireland to do Ascot"; "Home on sick
leave, but feel fit enough now"; "A big dinner to-night: thirty-three
dining."

There was so much talk that dinner was announced three times before any
one took any notice, and then there was a little block at the door,
for the Generals hung back for a moment from leading the way, and the
subalterns were not, before dinner, sufficiently assertive to take
precedence.

The stream of black coats set at last down the corridor, and on our
way we caught a glimpse of the bright scene in the _table-d'hôte_
room, where all the little tables were occupied, and where the
band was playing. We passed some pretty girls coming out of the
drawing-room--one subaltern audibly regretted that the presence of
the fair sex was tabooed at the feast--and we turned into the oak
banqueting-room.

There was a long table down the middle of the room, and at the centre
of this the General who is the colonel-in-chief of the regiment seated
himself, with, on either hand, two Generals who have in their time held
the regimental command. The getting into their places of the other
guests at the banquet was rather like the game of musical chairs,
and three unfortunates were left seatless. This, however, was soon
rectified; there was a general squeezing up to make more room, and it
was found that there was plenty of space at either end of the table for
two places to be laid. Some one, beyond the original thirty-three, had
been able to run over at the last moment from Ireland, and somebody had
come up unexpectedly from the depot, and somebody else had thought that
he had sent in his name to the secretary when he really had not.

It is an impressive room. There is a very broad frieze, on which
rosy cupids gambol against a gold background, above the panels and
carving in deep-toned oak. Across a large stained-glass window some
warm-coloured brown curtains were almost drawn-to; a tall chiffonnier,
bright with glass and napery, cut off the serving-room; clusters
of electric lights sparkled in the skylight which forms the roof.
A centre-piece and some great silver cups stood among the flowers,
banks of which ran the whole way down the table, and which were of the
colours of the regimental ribbon, with scarlet poppies to suggest the
tint of Her Majesty's uniform. There was a buttonhole of the same
coloured flowers by each guest's plate, and the cover of the menu
repeated again the familiar colours. This was the list of the feast:--


                                _Vins.
                             Milk Punch_.

                    _Fine old East India Madeira_.

                        _Château Carbonnieux_.

                         _Boll and Co._, 1884.

       _G.H. Mumm and Co. Ex. Qual., Ex. Dry, Cuvee_ '65, 1889.

                          _Haut Bages_, 1875.
                  _Feuerheera's Zimbro_ 1884 _Port_.

                     _Otard's Old Liqueur Brandy_.

                           _Johannis Water_.

                   *       *       *       *       *

                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.

                            Tortue claire.

                    Darne de saumon à la Mathilde.
              Suprêmes de filets de sole glacés Danoise.
                         Blanchailles au Kari.

                    Nageoires de tortue Washington.
                   Coquilles de foie gras Mireille.
                        Poularde à la Matignon.

                     Selle d'agneau. Sauce menthe.
                   Haricots verts sautés au beurre.
                      Pommes nouvelles fondantes.

                      Jambon de York à la Kalli.
                    Fèves de marais Maître d'Hôtel.

                                Sorbet.

               Cailles de vignes et ortolans sur toast.
                            Salade Romaine.
                Asperges en ranches. Sauce Argenteuil.

                          Fruits à la Créole.
                    Bombe Japonaise. Petits fours.

                          Dessert. Café noir.


As a privileged grumbler I began the dinner with finding fault, for
there were no finger-glasses as an accompaniment to the _crevettes_,
which were among the _hors-d'œuvre_, and the Boll, which was the
champagne I tried, had not been iced sufficiently--if, indeed, it had
seen the ice-pail at all. But the turtle-soup was soothing, and the
next supply of champagne that came round was of the right temperature.

In the pause between the soup and the fish one could gather better than
in the crowded dining-room who were present. On the chairman's right
was a General who had been knighted by Her Majesty for his services
in an African campaign; on his left the commander of the forces in an
island fortress, who in his time had led a battalion of the regiment
on active service; opposite to him was the lieutenant-colonel, who
has added to the sheaf of the regiment's honours in the latest Indian
campaign. A couple of majors, home from India, sat together; a group
of retired officers, now most of them squires on their country
estates, had gathered at a corner to talk over old times, the Governor
of one of Her Majesty's gaols was being much chaffed as to his
present employment; and the rest were chiefly the bronzed, healthy,
light-moustached young Englishmen, cast in the mould that tells the
world at once that a man is a soldier, and fresh from manœuvring in
Ireland or guarding the marches at a great Indian frontier station.

The turtle fins and the saddle of mutton were excellent, and the
ortolan I secured was as plump a little fellow as ever found the
shelter of a vine leaf; but when we came to the asparagus I was
constrained to ask the head waiter confidentially what the hard sticks
were with a little soft place at the end, tasting more like a Brussels
sprout than any vegetable that I knew of. The poor man, who wore a
worried look, said that they were the best procurable in France, and
turned for confirmation to a manager of many inches, who, his hair
brushed up to a point, and wearing a pointed beard, was leaning with
folded arms on the top of the chiffonnier, and contemplating the scene.
Our little difference of opinion as to the quality of the _asperges
d'Argenteuil_ concluded, the fruits and ice handed round, the General
in the chair rose, and in a few well-chosen words--for soldiers neither
care to make long speeches nor to listen to them--proposed the health
of the Queen, which was drunk standing; and as loyal subjects who wore,
or had worn, the scarlet, we applauded the suggestion of our Colonel
that a telegram should be sent to the proper quarter, and that Her
Majesty should know that the officers of one of her oldest regiments
had saluted her at their annual gathering. Then the diners broke up
into groups, for every one had much to say and much to hear, and there
were more speeches, and the healths of "officers past and present"
were drunk, and courtesies exchanged with another regiment dining in
the same hotel, and it was near the stroke of midnight when most of us
remembered that we had to be up betimes to go to Ascot on the morrow.

 21_st June_.



CHAPTER XXII

DIEUDONNÉ'S (RYDER STREET)


"I thought your Galatea a superb creation, and flatter myself I gave
an entirely new reading of the part of Chrysos's slave," I said; and
our leading lady was kind enough to say in reply that through force of
genius I raised the part of Chrysos's slave into a principal character.

I never inflict the fact upon my friends, but I am an amateur actor. I
do not play Hamlet or Othello, for owing to the jealousy of "casting"
committees, those parts are never offered me. I have some original
readings which the world will be startled by when I _do_ play Hamlet;
but I can, I believe, get more expression into such sentences as "My
lord, the carriage waits," than any other amateur who has ever trodden
the boards of St. George's Hall.

The leading lady of a troupe of which erstwhile I was a member--a
little difficulty over the allotment of the part of Young Marlowe was
the cause of my ceasing to assist them--was anxious to see Réjane as
Gilberte in "Frou-Frou." Her husband, a worthy man, but with no taste
for the higher dramatic art, and in the habit of saying sarcastic
things as to amateurs and amateur acting, preferred the Empire to the
Lyric; hence I had the honour of escorting our leading lady to see
Réjane, and asked her to dine with me at Dieudonné's as a preliminary.

It was while she trifled with a sardine at the commencement of dinner
that I remarked that her Galatea was a superb creation--it really was
not at all bad--and she complimented me very justly on my Chrysos's
slave.

We had a table close to the window, and looked over a bank of flowers
across to the rather sombre houses on the opposite side of Ryder
Street. But if the look-out is not of the brightest, the inside of the
room on the first floor is charming--the perfection of a room to dine
in on a hot day. It is all in white. The two pillars in the centre
of the room are white, the great dumb-waiter is white, the walls are
white. There are delicately-painted panels, with gentlemen and ladies
in powder and silk and brocade limned upon them; the ceiling is the
work of an artist, and there is here and there a touch of gold in the
framing of a screen or the capital of a pillar. One little shade on
each of the bunches of three electric lights, that are held by brackets
from the wall, is pink, the others white. On the tables there were
flowers in vases of silver. The downstairs room, which is smaller, is
equally cool-looking and tastefully decorated.

M. Guffanti, the proprietor, slim, and with a moustache that a
cavalryman might envy, had come to ask whether the table he had
reserved for us was to our liking, the bottle of Pol Roger was in
the ice-pail within reach of my hand, and I was just going to tell
our leading lady with what pleasure I recalled her Lady Teazle when
we played in the schoolroom at Tadley-on-the-Marsh, and to ask her
candidly what her opinion was of my rendering of the part of Joseph's
valet, when Giovanini, the _maître d'hôtel_, came up with a bunch of
flowers in his hand. Giovanini, bushy of eyebrows, and with whiskers
that are almost Piccadilly weepers, evidently regarded our leading lady
with much respectful admiration; for he presented her with the bunch of
roses. And indeed our leading lady might well compel admiration, for
she was looking superbly handsome, and was wearing all her diamonds.
Her appearance reminded me, as I told her later, of that evening
when she made such a hit as the heroine of "Plot and Passion," at
Slopperton, and I played, with some distinction, I trust, the part of
Grisbouille.

What our leading lady's impressions were of my rendering of the valet
in "The School for Scandal" I shall never know, for the arrival of the
_consommé Nelson_ turned the conversation, and I was asked as to the
identity of all the people who were dining. There were two ladies at
a table by themselves--Dieudonné's is one of the places where ladies
can dine by themselves, without fear of any inconvenience--whom I put
down as country cousins who had come up for a fortnight's shopping
and sight-seeing in town. There was a family party: husband, wife--a
stern lady with spectacles, who took immense interest in the leading
lady when she overheard me call her the Ellen Terry of the amateur
stage--and two children. There were two colonels and an admiral, who
were going to escort two ladies to the theatre; there was a large party
of French people, a very pretty dark-eyed girl among them; there were
a handsome American lady and her husband; there was a Royal Engineer
just off to Malta, who had played hero's parts with the leading lady--I
should not wonder if he was the fellow who cut me out of the part of
Young Marlowe; and there were a dozen other people whose identity I
could not determine. This was the menu of the dinner, the customary
_table-d'hôte_ meal, a menu to which the leading lady seemed more
inclined to devote attention than to my remarks on my own rendering of
various characters:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                           Consommé Nelson.
                          Crème Brésilienne.
               Saumon du Rhin bouilli. Sauce mousseline.
                       Caneton braisé Fermière.
                    Noisettes de Béhaques Romaine.
                    Poularde de Surrey à la broche.
                                Salade.
                     Haricots verts à l'Anglaise.
                           Bombe favourite.
                             Petits fours.
                         Laitances sur toast.
                          Salade de fraises.


When the creamy-pink salmon was put upon the table, M. Guffanti, going
the rounds of the tables, came and asked if everything was to our
satisfaction, and as I thought it might interest the leading lady, I
asked him what had become of Madame Dieudonné's little room and the
pretty things that were drawn and written on its walls.

Before Dieudonné's became the handsome hotel and restaurant that it is
now, it was a boarding-house which stood in high favour with such of
the French artists and sculptors and singers and actors who crossed
the silver streak to perfidious Albion. The _table-d'hôte_ dinner, at
which Mdme. Dieudonné took the head of the long table, was a celebrated
institution. No one could come without being vouched for by some of the
habitués, and most of the people who might be found at the board were
of European celebrity. Madame had a little parlour, which was a kind
of holy of holies, and on the walls of this all the most celebrated of
the celebrities who were the _amis du maison_ either drew a sketch or
wrote a quatrain, or dotted down a bar or two of some favourite air,
and the names that were signed below the sketches and the scribblings
were some of those that stand highest on the roll of fame. M. Guffanti
told us that in spite of all precautions the walls were spoilt, and
that Madame's little parlour was now the ante-room downstairs with the
Watteau panels, where people sit after dinner and drink coffee.

The duck was excellent, but to be absolutely critical I thought that
the vegetables had lingered a thought too long by the fire, and if the
weather had not been as muggy and stifling as it was I might have
suggested that the lamb from which the noisettes were cut would have
been better for a little longer hanging. For the rest of the dinner I
had nothing but praise, and the salad of strawberries, as cold as ice
could make it, was delicious. I ordered coffee and some chartreuse in
crushed ice for the leading lady, and some _fin champagne_ for myself
and asked for my bill.

While disposing of the coffee I thought that my chance had come to get
the leading lady's real opinion of my conception of the character of
Joseph's valet, and began explaining at length my method of entry to
announce the arrival of Charles Surface; but the leading lady rather
brusquely asked for her cloak, and said we should miss part of the
first act of "Frou-Frou."

I paid the bill--Two dinners, 15s.; one bottle 89, 13s.; two cafés
specials, 1s. 6d.; two liqueurs, 2s.; total, £1: 11: 6--and helped the
leading lady on with her cloak. I think she might have listened to my
ideas as to the valet's entrance. These amateurs--all but myself--are
so inordinately selfish.

 5_th July_.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE BERKELEY (PICCADILLY)


The white-faced house with gilded balconies that stands at the corner
of Berkeley Street and Piccadilly is an old friend with a new face, for
in the year of grace '97 the old hotel was much altered, the restaurant
almost doubled in size, and the Berkeley may now, in its latest
development, be said to be the blonde beauty among London hotels.

The Editor invited me to dinner, a little dinner for three, the
Gracious Lady, himself, and myself--the handsome niece who completed
the _partie carrée_ on a previous occasion was at her cottage in the
country and was reported to be accomplishing wonderful feats of cookery
with her chafing-dish--and suggested that I should interview Jules as
to the menu.

When I sent in word to Jules that I should like to see him, I had
plenty of employment, during the few moments I was kept waiting, in
looking at the new ante-room to the right of the entrance-hall, a very
handsome apartment, with old gold as the dominating colour everywhere.
First, there came to me Emile, the _maître d'hôtel_ whom I remember
of old at the Bristol. M. Jules would not keep me waiting a moment,
he said; and even as he spoke M. Jules, in frock-coat, with a little
sheaf of papers in his hand, came in. "The Editor is coming to dine
here to-morrow night, and wants a little dinner for three," I began,
and M. Jules selected one of the papers from his sheaf and handed it to
me. He had heard in some way of the Editorial advent, and had put his
suggestions as to a little dinner upon paper. They ran as follows:--


                           Melon Cantaloup.
                              Crème d'or.
             Truite froide au court bouillon. Sauce verte.
                     Caneton Nantais à la Drexel.
                 Selle de pré-salé rôtie aux légumes.
                      Petits pois à la Française.
                         Salade à la St-James.
                       Ananas glacé Sibérienne.
                      Corbeille de petits fours.
                          Croustade Victoria.


I read the menu down, and when I came to the _caneton à la Drexel_ I
paused, and looked interrogatively at M. Jules. "It is new," he said;
"it will be the second time that I have served it"; and I thought
how honours were reserved for editors which are not given to simple
correspondents. I should not wonder if some day Jules actually named a
dish after the Editor.

The Gracious Lady and the Editor arrived on the stroke of
eight--punctuality is the preliminary courtesy to a good dinner--and
there was M. Jules waiting to show us to the very best table in the
dining-room, the table by the corner window which looks out to the
Green Park across the road. Emile was there also, smiling, and a
waiter, with a thin line of gold edging his collar, placed the slices
of iced melon before us as we sat down.

M. Jules regretted that we had not dined at the Berkeley the night
before, for it had been an evening on which the restaurant had been
full of interesting people--so full, indeed, that a noble lord who
had given a dinner party in honour of a prima donna could only be
accommodated with a table in the ante-room. We did not altogether
share in Jules's regret, for we might have had to dine in the passage,
and looking round at the diners at the other tables we came to the
conclusion that though there were no lords, so far as we knew, nor
prima donnas among them, they were, on the whole, a very smart and
good-looking set. A pretty little grass widow was being entertained by
a young soldier--we invented quite a Kiplingesque story about the pair;
a rector up for the Oxford and Cambridge match was having his last
dinner in town before he went down to his country parsonage again; two
ladies going on to the opera were dining by themselves--the Berkeley
is a place where ladies can dine and lunch without an escort; two
gentlemen, who from their speech were Australian--Colonial Premiers
the Gracious Lady called them--were giving a dinner to two very smart
ladies; there was another lady with six men at her table, all of whom
she was keeping amused; there was a pretty girl, with hair of the
sheen of copper and a great spray of roses, dining _tête-à-tête_ with a
bored-looking man with a bald head (_un mariage de convenance_ was the
Gracious Lady's decision); and there was a family party commanded by a
stern lady with spectacles.

"Very good soup indeed," said the Editor, as he laid down his spoon,
and Jules, who was within hearing, smiled as if the wish of his life
had been accomplished, while Emile beamed as if he had come in for a
fortune.

And indeed it would have been difficult, if we had been in a
fault-finding mood, to have discovered the slightest matter to carp
at in either room or dinner. The room, with its light oaken boarding,
topped by a deep red frieze, its tall fireplaces with blue tiles, its
white ceiling ornamented with strange devices, somewhat resembling
Whistler's butterfly signature, its wooden pillars and beams,
its clusters of electric lights and revolving fans, is a perfect
banqueting-room. Our table, gay with orchids and with sweet peas strewn
in the shape of a heart, and lighted by electric globes held by a stand
of wrought iron, was the best in the room, as I have written above, and
nowhere in England or abroad could we have been given a better dinner.
Indeed, from my point of view, it was too good a dinner, for there was
no weak spot in it to fasten a criticism on. The trout, in a silver
boat cased in ice and ornamented with paper-paddles and a flag at bow
and stern, was delicious, and Jules, with enthusiasm, described its
cooking: the white wine, the pepper, the little drop of vinegar, the
method of cooling.

But the dish of the evening was the _caneton à la Drexel_. No great
bird of Rouen, but a delicate little fellow from Nantes was this duck,
the breast cut into fillets and the inside full of a glorious mixture
in which _foie gras_ played a leading _rôle_. "It is the second time
only that I have served it," said Jules again, when we complimented
him; and we all fully appreciated the great honour that was being paid.

The _salade St-James_, of hearts of lettuce, tomatoes, and French
beans, pleased the Gracious Lady much, and she told us to notice how
the beans absorbed the flavour of the tomatoes. The ice made its
appearance as a pineapple with something which looked like a bridal
veil over it, and with a base of transparent ice fashioned to represent
a snake among leaves. Inside the pineapple was the ice. The snake set
the Editor a-telling tales of the gorgeous East. "The biggest snake I
ever saw," he began, "was killed in my house at Allahabad under the
ice-box." I glanced across to the Gracious Lady, who sat unmoved,
apparently used to the Editor's snake stories. I glanced at the jug of
hock cup, but the Editor had only had his fair share. Then I clenched
my teeth and settled down to listen, for one has to stand anything,
even snake stories, from one's Editor.

The dinner ended, the coffee and old brandy absorbed by the Editor
and myself, a long cigar, which he said was very good, placed in the
Editor's mouth, and one of Savory's cigarettes in mine, a passion
for exploring came upon us, and, with Jules as guide, we set off on
a tour of the basement, the Gracious Lady holding up her skirts out
of the way of the sawdust with which the floors were strewn. We went
through the beautifully clean kitchen, lustrous with white tiles, over
which M. Herpin holds sway, through the pantry with its glass-fronted
cupboards, through the cool rooms where the meat and fowls are stored,
and through the bakery where three batches of bread are baked each day.
We reascended, and then the Editor, who was going on to a theatre, paid
the bill:--Three dinners at 10s. 6d., £1: 11: 6; two hock cups, 16s.;
three cafés, 2s. 3d.; liqueurs, 2s.; cigars, 1s.; total, £2: 12: 9.

 12_th July_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am bound to say that I think that the Editor was let off very lightly
in his bill; but then editors are always better treated than the
ordinary everyday man. M. Jules has been kindness itself in noting for
me the dishes that are specialities of the Berkeley, indicating their
construction in all cases, and in most giving complete _recettes_. If
in some cases the English of the lady who assisted me by translating
the _recettes_ has quailed before some of the technical terms, I trust
that she and I may be excused, for the French of the _haute cuisine_
requires some equivalent in English which our barbarous tongue does not
possess.

These are some of the specialities of the Berkeley--_Poule au pot
à la Française, Crème d'or, Petites marmites à la Russe, Truite en
gondole au court bouillon, sauce verte, suprême de sole Alice_--a very
dainty dish named after M. Jules's little daughter--_selle d'agneau
de Pauillac aux primeurs, homard à l'Américaine, noisette d'agneau
Berkeley, caneton à la Drexel, poularde Berkeley, salade St-James,
asperges vertes à la Milanaise, ananas glacés Sibériennes, soufflé
Mercédès (diablé), croustade Victoria, canapés Berkeley_.

Herewith the _recettes_, commencing with


_Petite marmite à la Russe_

_Julienne de légumes composée de carottes, navets, poireaux, oignon,
céleri et choux (braisés selon le règle), mouillez avec un bon consommé
de canard clarifié, ajoutez des morceaux de canard fortement blanchis,
faites bouillir doucement pour dépouiller, cuire et amener la petite
marmite à un goût parfait. Servir de la crème aigrette en même temps._

A Julienne made with carrots, turnips, greens, leeks, onions, celery.
The vegetables should be braised as usual, then moisten them with stock
in which there is plenty of duck. Add the pieces of duck, and let it
boil gently, so that it can be well skimmed, and the delicious flavour
brought out carefully. Serve cream at the same time.


_Crème d'Or_

_D'un fond de sole et volaille faites un velouté bien dépouillé, et
le tenir leger; lier avec un beurre de homard, le passer crème et
beurre extra fin pour finir, le goûter (il doit être de haut goût
comme le bisqué), garnissez d'une Royal au beurre de homard et huîtres
fraîchement pochées, et leur cuisson._

Stock made with sole and poultry, rich and smooth to the taste. Skim
very lightly, and mix with lobster butter, cream, and a little fresh
butter. Pass it through a silk sieve, taste it, and garnish it with a
_royale_ made with lobster butter, oysters freshly stewed and their own
liquor.


_Truite en gondolier à la Monseigneur_

_Pocher au vin du Rhin avec légumes et aromates, dresser dans un
gondolier assez large pour contenir la garniture suivante: œufs
pochés glacés, petites truffes, pommes au naturel, grosses quenelles,
crevettes piquées sur la truite même, bouquet de queues de crevettes,
champignons tournés, écrevisses dressées; tenir le tout très chaud,
glacez la truite et la garniture, saucez à part une sauce genevoise
faite avec le fond du poisson._

Stew the fish in Rhine wine, with vegetables and spices, arrange in
a _gondolier_ large enough to hold the following garnish: poached
eggs glazed, little truffles, boiled apples, large quenelles, prawns
(_piquées sur la truite même_). Flavour with shrimps' tails and
mushrooms, and arrange crayfish on it. Keep it all very hot. Glaze the
trout and the garnish. Serve separately a Genevoise sauce, made with
the liquor in which the trout were cooked.


_Selle d'agneau de Pauillac aux primeurs_

_Selle d'agneau de lait rôtie et garnie de légumes nouveaux._

Saddle of lamb (young), roasted and garnished with young vegetables.


_Homard à l'Américaine_

_Homard vivant, découpé; les pattes cassées, sautées au beurre
clarifié flambé au cognac, éteint au vin blanc (très sec), réduire et
ajoutez échalotte, civette, un verre de vin blanc, tomates concassées,
persil, sel, poivre frais moulu, piment haché très fin, une pointe de
cayenne, trois cuillerées de sauce tomate, demi litre de fond (thim et
lauriers), moitié poissons et moitié veau. Cuire pendant vingt-et-cinq
minutes, sortez les morceaux de homard en les dressant, et rendez le
plat aussi élégant que possible. Réduisez la sauce, liez au dernier
moment, avec le corail gardé à cru, et manier avec beurre de homard,
civette hachée, un petit morceau de glace de viande. Goûtez avant de
servir._

A live lobster, cut up; the claws cracked and fried (_sauté_) in
clarified butter. Boil down, and add shallot, chives, a glass of
white wine, crushed tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper (freshly ground),
allspice chopped very fine, a pinch of cayenne, three teaspoonfuls of
tomato sauce, a little less than a pint of stock, thyme and laurel
leaves, the stock to be made partly with fish and partly with veal.
Cook for twenty-five minutes, take out the pieces of lobster, arrange
them and make the dish look as elegant as possible. Boil down the
sauce, and add at the last minute, with the uncooked coral of the
lobster, mixed with lobster butter, chopped chives and a little piece
of meat glaze. Taste before serving.


_Poularde à la Berkeley_

_(Pour une jolie poularde)_

_Deux cents grammes de riz Caroline revenu au beurre mouillé au fond
blanc, assaisonnez de bon goût (bouquet garni); cuire dix-huit minutes,
alors le riz doit se trouver à sec; le lier avec un velouté réduit
et legèrement monté à la crème, un peu de glace de viande; ajoutez
gros dés de truffe et foie gras. Vider la poularde par le haut,
l'assaisonner et la farcir du riz déjà préparé, brider soigneusement
pour éviter que la poularde garde une jolie forme, la citroner, la
barder et la rouler dans une petite serviette. Cuisez à grand fond
blanc quarante-cinq à cinquante minutes, finissez de cuire en la
laissant pocher dans le cuisson. Débarrassez de la serviette, la barde,
dressez sur un plat rond orné d'une bordure en pain du Argent du
Nouilly, saucez suprême et envoyez une saucière de sauce a part._

A young fowl, drawn, well-seasoned, garnished with Carolina rice;
place the rice in butter, with a little water, so that it is covered
to twice its height. Cook seventeen or eighteen minutes, add some
glaze and cream, and let it cool. Add _foie gras_ and truffles cut in
large dice, or in quarters, mix well with the rice, and season with
salt and pepper freshly ground. It should be well seasoned. Stuff the
fowls with this preparation, tying them up very securely. Cover the
birds with thin strips of bacon, and flavour with lemon. Wrap them in
little serviettes. Cook in good white stock for forty-five minutes,
and let them finish stewing in their own liquor. Take off the cloths
and the bacon, and arrange the birds on a round dish, _avec couronne_,
pour over them a good "sauce suprême," and serve the rest of the sauce
separately.


_Caneton à la Drexel_

_Bridé en entrée, le passer de cinq à huit minutes à four vif pour
rafermir les chairs, enlever la poitrine, et bien parer la carcasse,
l'assaisonner, la remplir d'un appareil à soufflé de canard à cru,
garni en abondance de gros quartiers de truffes et foie gras de façon à
reformer le canard en y ajoutant la poitrine enlevée; cuire vingt-cinq
minutes, découpez les aiguillettes du caneton; et servez avec le propre
fond, dégraissé et réduit au madère et porto; legèrement lié avec un
peu de demi-glace garnissez, de tranches de citron._

Place the duckling in a quick oven for from five to eight minutes, to
make the flesh firm. Take off the breast, clean the inside well, season
it, fill it with a soufflé preparation garnished with truffles cut in
quarters and _foie gras_. In order to give the duckling its original
form put back the breast. Cook for twenty-five minutes. Cut the
duckling in slices, and serve with its own stock and a little Madeira
and port.


_Ananas glacé Sibérienne_

_Ananas frais, enlevez la tête, videz l'ananas à l'aide d'une cuillère,
mettez au rafraîchissoir, d'autre part avec les chairs de l'ananas
faites une glace ananas kirsch et marasquin, remplissez l'ananas,
ajoutez la tête comme couvert, servez sur un rocher de glace, et garni
de fleurs naturels._

Take a fresh pineapple, remove the crown. Clear out the fruit with the
help of a spoon, and put it in the refrigerator; then with the flesh of
the pineapple make a pineapple ice with kirsch and maraschino. Fill up
the pineapple again, replace the head as a cover, serve it on a block
of ice, and ornament it with natural flowers.


_Rocher de mandarines glacées_

_Dressez sur un socle en glace, videz les mandarines, faites une glace
avec l'intérieur, regarnissez les mandarines et bien dressez sur le
socle._

Arrange on a block of ice. Take out the insides of the mandarin
oranges, make them into an ice-cream. Put back the insides again into
the oranges, and arrange upon the block of ice.


_Soufflé diablé à la Mercédès_

_Un soufflé glacé au parmesan avec laitance d'harengs à l'intérieur
garnie de petites lames de truffes, passer au four._

A soufflé glazed with Parmesan cheese, with the soft roes of herrings
in the inside, garnished with little slices of truffle, baked in the
oven.


_Timbale Parisienne_

_Pâté à brioches levé dans des moules à Charlotte cuite, regarnir de
la pâté intérieur, en réservant le couvercle, que l'on glace à la
glace Royale, et décore aux fruits de clemont (ou confis); d'un autre
côté vous cassonez vos timbales au sucre coloré de couleurs ardentes.
Coupez des fruits frais tel que ananas, poires, bananes, abricots,
muscat, cerises, mettez ces fruits dans une sauce abricots au kirsch et
marasquin, chauffez bien et remplissez vos timbales, servez sans faire
attendre la timbale._

[Illustration]

_Pâté à brioches_ (puff pastry?), baked in Charlotte moulds. Remove
the paste from the inside, leaving a lid, which must be glazed with
"Royale" jelly, and decorated _aux fruits de clemont_, or preserved
fruits. Sugar over your timbales on the other side with coloured sugar,
choosing very brilliant colours. Cut up some fresh fruits, such as
pineapples, pears, bananas, apricots, cherries, and grapes. Put these
fruits into an apricot sauce, with kirsch and maraschino. Heat well,
and fill your timbales. Serve without any delay.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE SHIP (GREENWICH)


It was pleasant to see Miss Dainty's (of all the principal London
theatres) handwriting again. She had read all the "Dinners and
Diners," she told me, and did not think that any of them were as good
as the one when I had the inspiration or her presence. She had been
very ill--at the point of death, indeed--owing to a sprained ankle,
which prevented her going to Ascot, for which race-meeting she had
ordered three dresses, each of which was a dream. Why did I take out
to dinner nobody but Editors and Society ladies now? The parrot was
very well, but was pecking the feathers out of his tail. She had some
new pets--two goldfish, whose glass bowl had been broken and who now
lived in a big yellow vase. The cat had eaten one of the love-birds,
and was ill for two days afterwards. The pug had been exchanged for a
fox-terrier--Jack, the dearest dog in the world. Jack had gone up the
river on the electric launch and had fought two dogs, and had been
bitten over the eye, and had covered all his mistress's white piqué
skirt with blood; but for all that he was a duck and his mother's own
darling.

This, much summarised, was the pretty little lady's letter, and I wrote
back at once to say that the pleasure of entertaining a princess of
the blood-royal was as nothing to the honour of her company, and if
the foot was well enough, would she honour me with her presence at
dinner anywhere she liked? And, as the weather had turned tropical,
I suggested either Richmond or Greenwich or the restaurant at Earl's
Court.

Greenwich the fair lady gave her decision for, and then I made a
further suggestion: that, if she did not mind unaristocratic company,
the pleasantest way was to go by boat.

This suggestion was accepted, and Miss Dainty in the late afternoon
called for me at a dingy Fleet Street office. I was delighted to see
the little lady, looking very fresh and nice as she sat back in her
cab, and I trust that my face showed nothing except pleasure when I
perceived a small fox-terrier with a large muzzle and a long leash
sitting by her side. Miss Dainty explained that as she had allowed her
maid to go out for the afternoon she had to bring Jack, and of course I
said that I was delighted.

We embarked at the Temple pier on a boat, which was as most river boats
are. There were gentlemen who had neglected to shave smoking strong
pipes; there were affable ladies of a conversational tendency, and
there were a violin and harp; but there were as a compensation all the
beautiful sights of the river to be seen, the cathedral-like Tower
Bridge, the forest of shipping, the red-sailed boats fighting their
way up against the tide, the line of barges in picturesque zig-gag
following the puffing tugs; and all these things Miss Dainty saw and
appreciated. There was much to tell, too, that Miss Dainty had not
written in her letter, and Jack was a never-failing source of interest.
Jack wound his leash round the legs of the pipe-smoking gentlemen,
was not quite sure that the babies of the conversational ladies were
not somethings that he ought to eat, and at intervals wanted to go
overboard and fight imaginary dogs in the Thames.

Arrived at Greenwich, at the Ship (the tavern with a rather dingy
front, with two tiers of bow windows, with its little garden gay with
white and green lamps, and with its fountain and rockery which had bits
of paper and straws floating in the basin), I asked for the proprietor.
Mr. Bale, thickset, and with a little moustache, came out of his room,
and whether it was that Fleet Street and the Thames had given me a
tramp-like appearance, or whether it was that he did not at once take
a fancy to Jack, I could not say, but he did not seem overjoyed to see
us. Yet presently he thawed, told me that he had kept a table by the
window for us, and that our dinner would be ready at 6.30, as I had
telegraphed.

In the meantime I suggested that we should see the rest of the house.
"Would it not be better to leave the dog downstairs?" suggested Mr.
Bale, and Jack was tied up somewhere below, while we went round the
upper two stories of dining-rooms--for the Ship is a house of nothing
but dining-rooms. It is a tavern, not a hotel, and there are no
bedrooms for guests. We went into the pleasant bow-windowed rooms on
the first floor, in one of which a table was laid ready, with a very
beautiful decoration of pink and white flowers, and in the other of
which stand the busts of Fox and Pitt. We looked at the two curious
wooden images in the passage, at the chairs with the picture of a ship
let into their backs, and at the flags of all nations which hang in the
long banqueting-room; and all the time Jack, tied up below, lifted up
his voice and wept.

I asked if Jack might be allowed to come into the dining-room and sit
beside his mistress while we had dinner, giving the dog a character
for peacefulness and quiet for which I might have been prosecuted
for perjury; but it was against the rules of the house, and Mr. Bale
suggested that if Jack was tied up to a pole of the awning just outside
the window he would be able to gaze through the glass at his mistress
and be happy.

A fine old Britannic waiter, who looked like a very much reduced copy
of Sir William Vernon-Harcourt, put down two round silver dishes,
lifted up the covers, and there were two souchés, one of salmon and one
of flounder. I helped Miss Dainty to some of the salmon and filled her
glass with the '84 Pommery, which, after much thought, I had selected
from the wine list. But she touched neither; her eyes were on Jack
outside, for that accomplished dog, after doing a maypole dance round
the pole, had now arrived at the end of his leash--and incipient
strangulation. Miss Dainty went outside to rescue her pet from instant
death, and I, having eaten my souché, followed. Jack wanted water, and
a sympathetic hall porter who appeared on the scene volunteered to get
him a soup-plateful, and tie him somewhere where he could not strangle
himself.

The souchés had been removed, and some lobster rissoles and fried slips
had taken their place. Miss Dainty took a rissole and ate it while she
watched the hall porter put Jack's plate of water down, and I made
short work of a slip and was going to try the rissoles when Jack, in
a plaintive tone of voice, informed the world that something was the
matter. His mistress understood him at once. The poor dear would not
drink his water unless she stood by; and this having been proved by
actual fact, Miss Dainty, with myself in attendance, came back to find
that whiting puddings and stewed eels had taken the place of the former
dishes.

Miss Dainty took a small helping of the eels, looked at it, and then
turned her eyes again to Jack, who was going through a series of
gymnastics. I ate my whiting pudding, which I love, in fevered haste,
and had got halfway through my helping of eels, when Miss Dainty
discovered what was the matter with Jack. The boys on the steps below
were annoying him, and the only way to keep him quiet would be to give
him some bones. The sympathetic hall porter again came to the rescue,
and Jack, under his mistress's eye, made fine trencher play with two
bones.

There was a look of reproach in the veteran waiter's eye when we came
back and found the crab omelette and salmon cutlets _à l'Indienne_ were
cooling. I tried to draw Miss Dainty's attention away from Jack. I told
her how Mr. _Punch_ had called her Faustine, and had written a page
about her; but when she found there was nothing to quote in her book of
press notices she lost all interest in the hump-backed gentleman.

With the advent of the plain whitebait a new danger to Jack arose.
A turtle was brought by three men on to the lawn and turned loose,
and Miss Dainty had to go out and assure herself that Jack was not
frightened, and that the turtle was not meditating an attack upon him.

The turtle was found to be a harmless and interesting insect, and
having been shown, with practical illustrations, how the beast was
captured by savages, Miss Dainty took great pity on it, collected water
in the soup-plate from the fountain, poured it over its head, and tried
to induce it to drink, which the turtle steadfastly refused to do.

The veteran waiter was stern when we returned and found the devilled
whitebait on the table. I told him to bring the coffee and liqueurs and
bill out into the garden, because Miss Dainty, having been separated
from her dog so long, wanted to nurse and pet him.

This was the bill:--Two dinners, 14s.; one Pommery '84, 18s.; two
liqueurs, 1s. 6d.; coffee, 1s.; attendance, 1s.; total, £1: 15: 6.

We sat and watched St. Paul's stand clear against the sunset, and Miss
Dainty, her dog happy in her lap, suddenly said, "If you give this
place a good notice, I'll never speak to you again."

"Why?" I replied. "The whitebait was delicious, the whiting pudding
capital, the omelette good. I liked the fried slips and the rissoles."

"Yes, perhaps," said Miss Dainty, with a pout. "But they wouldn't let
me have my dog in the dining-room!"

 19_th July_.



CHAPTER XXV

THE HOUSE OF COMMONS


I have a vague remembrance of having as a small boy been taken round
the Houses of Lords and Commons as a holiday treat. The Houses cannot
have been sitting at the time, and the only thing that I remembered was
the fact that the Lords sat on red seats, the Commons on green.

I did once, in later years, make an attempt to gain admission to hear
a debate; but, after some waiting, the legislator to whom I had sent
in my card came out with rather a long face. He had moved heaven and
earth, he said, to find a place for me, but it was impossible. However,
he suggested, brightening up, there was nothing to prevent our going
together to the Aquarium over the way, which we should find much more
amusing.

The House of Commons was, therefore, quite new ground to me, and I was
very pleased when the Rising Legislator asked me if I would not dine
some night with him in the House and hear a debate afterwards.

The House of Commons is a nice comforting address to give a cabman,
and as I drove down Westminster wards I felt that in the eyes of one
individual I was that glorious person, an M.P.

But, if my cabman thought I was the member for somewhere or another,
he was soon undeceived. We bowled into Palace Yard as if the place
belonged to me, and pulled up at an arched door, where a policeman was
on guard. I mentioned the Rising Legislator's name, but the policeman,
who, though hard-hearted, had excellent manners, could not admit me
except on the personal appearance of my host.

"Then where am I to go?" I said, appealing to the better side of that
policeman's nature, and he told me to go out of the yard and turn to
the right, and I would be admitted at the first door. The cabman, who
had been listening, must have been satisfied with the fare I gave him,
for he invited me to get into the cab again, and said he would take
me round to the right place in a jiffy. Though friendly, there was a
distinct familiarity now in the cabman's manner. I had ceased to be an
M.P. in his eyes.

The policeman at this other door was not hard-hearted, and directed
me up a long lobby, on either side of which were gentlemen of various
periods, in very white marble. Every policeman I passed I mentioned
the Rising Legislator's name to, just as a guarantee of good faith,
and I was passed on to a central lobby, where a small selection of the
public, looking very melancholy, were sitting patiently on a stone
bench, and where gentlemen of noble appearance--I do not wish to be
brought up at the bar of the House for saying anything disrespectful
of any member of the House--were in converse with others, whom I took
to be influential constituents. Some ladies in evening dress were
being shown about by smart gentlemen. There were policemen guarding an
entrance, and whenever anybody of the outside crowd approached it they
were warned away with a kind of "stand out of the draught" motion. It
is, no doubt, some deadly crime to get in the way of an M.P. in his own
House.

A policeman directed me to write the Rising Legislator's name on the
back of my card, and, having scrutinised it to see whether I had
spelled the name correctly, handed it over to a gentleman in dress
clothes with what looked like a gilt plate with the Royal arms on it
at the V of his waistcoat. I waited some little time and inspected the
statues, some of which were rather comic, in the Lobby.

Presently the Rising Legislator appeared, and apologised for being
somewhat late. A chat with a Cabinet Minister was the cause. I felt a
sort of reflected glory in this. We passed the sacred portals, and, as
we did so, I gave the policeman a glance as much as to say. "You see, I
didn't deceive you; I really do know him!" And I set my hat on the side
of my head with more of a cock. "It is the custom for no one except
the members of the House to wear their hats here," said the Rising
Legislator; and I relapsed again into humility.

We peeped through a door and I was shown the Speaker in the chair,
whom I looked at with due awe; and then we went down a long, panelled
passage, the panels being the lockers, of which each member has one,
and presently we were in a lofty room with three great windows, and the
Rising Legislator was asking for the table that had been reserved for
him.

It is a fine room, this Strangers' Dining-Room. The ceiling is nobly
ornamented, and the clusters of electric lights dropping from it
illumine the room cheerfully. On the walls is a paper with a pattern
in which heraldic roses and fleurs-de-lys play the principal part; the
curtains to the windows are of a soft green, and at about the height
of a man's head, topping the oak panelling, is a fine work of art, a
broad border of carvings of such things as furnish the good fare of the
table. The great windows, looking out on the Terrace and the river,
have massive stone frames, and inside they have as well a second wooden
framing, with all the modern appliances for letting in fresh air. There
is a little desk, with an accountant sitting at it. Beyond him, through
an open door, there is a glimpse of the Members' Dining-Room. The
chairs are covered with green leather, and have stamped on their backs
a gilt portcullis. It is in most things just like the dining-room of
some big club.

I had asked to be given the ordinary dinner; but the Rising Legislator
insisted on our having either a duck or a chicken in our menu. He
ordered _consommé Brunoise_, which, looking at the bill of fare with
him, I saw would cost him 5d. a portion; whitebait; _noisettes de
mouton aux haricots verts_, two portions of which would cost him half
a crown. From the price list I gathered, too, that hon. members can
have a dinner, at fixed price, of two courses for 1s. 9d., three for
2s. 3d., four for 3s.

There was a difficulty about the duck, or chicken, and the waiter
had to go from the table to the desk a couple of times before it was
discovered that the Rising Legislator could have a duck; and a fine
fat duck it was when it appeared. "I have got to speak to-night," said
the Rising Legislator, "and therefore we must have champagne," and he
ordered some '89 Clicquot to be put on ice. While the _pourparlers_ as
to the duck were in progress I had time to look round at the little
tables and the people dining at them. There were but few diners yet;
but two of the faces at the table next to ours caught my eye at once as
being familiar. The hair, with a streak of grey in it, the long face,
the spectacles, the straight beard, belonged to Mr. Dillon, and the
man opposite to him with the penthouse brows and the sleeve pinned up
on to his coat was Michael Davitt. The little stout gentleman with a
moustache, fingering his pince-nez, who came up presently to speak to
them, was Dr. Tanner.

Just as the duck difficulty was settled and our soup put before
us, somebody entered the room and mumbled something in a loud
voice. "Speaker has left the chair," said the Rising Legislator in
explanation, and immediately the tables began to fill. Mr. Walter
Long and two friends were the first to enter; then, in succession,
baldish of head, bearded, and in a very long frock-coat, Sir William
Wedderburn; Mr. Morrell, broad of face; Mr. Yoxall, champion of the
N.U.T., thin and lightly bearded; Mr. Sam Smith, with a big white
beard; and burly Mr. Henniker-Heaton, the Imperial Postmaster-General
of time to come--all familiar public figures easy to recognise. Mr.
Austen Chamberlain, in a grey Ascot suit and a blue-and-white shirt,
hovered about the desk by the entrance, as if waiting for some one who
did not appear.

The whitebait was excellent, the duck in life must have been a bird
of aldermanic figure, the _noisettes_ in size would have satisfied a
hungry man and in tenderness have pleased a gourmet, and we had come to
the strawberry-ice stage when again there was a loud mumble, and the
Rising Legislator told me that the Speaker was in the chair.

From strawberry ice we had progressed to coffee and old brandy, when
behind the wainscotting there was a ringing as of many bicycle bells,
and about half of the diners rose, grasped their hats, and ran as
swiftly as if they were going to a fire.

"It is a count," said the Rising Legislator. "_We_ will go down on to
the Terrace and smoke a cigar before I find you a place to listen to
the debate." Down a staircase with beautiful dark old panelling of the
napkin pattern we went until we came to the dimness of the Terrace,
where a policeman stood at ease to mark the spot sacred to members
only, and where the ladies who had dined in the House formed the
centres of groups. We watched the lights twinkle in the great hospital
across the dark flood, and the red and green eyes of a launch that came
slipping down the river. Presently, with a sigh, the Rising Legislator
threw away his cigar. "I suppose we must go in and hear what they are
talking of," he said.

 26_th July_.



CHAPTER XXVI

EARL'S COURT


In the morning, with my shaving water, was brought a note in a dashing
feminine handwriting. It was from the little American prima donna to
say she was sorry that she had forgotten, but she was engaged to dine
with some friends who were leaving England, and would I take her out
some other night instead; and she considerately suggested two evenings
on which she should have known that I would be out of town for Goodwood.

I felt inclined to reply, like Uncle Gregory, that I knew those
friends--"they cum fr' Sheffield"; but I did nothing worse than to
write that of course I would take her out with pleasure on the first
evening she had vacant when I came back to town.

I had arranged to drive her down to Earl's Court to give her dinner
at the Quadrant, to take her on to the lawn of the Welcome Club for
coffee and liqueurs, and then to go the round of the side shows. It
is not easy in August to find a lady to take out to dinner at twelve
hours' notice. Mrs. Charlie Sphinx was at Carlsbad, and Miss Dainty
was taking a holiday from the wear and tear of "resting" at some French
watering-place. I sent a note round by a cab to Sir George to ask if I
might take Miss Brighteyes out to dinner; but the man came back saying
that the house was all shut up, and that he could make no one hear.

At the worst, I thought, I could pick up a man at the club; but the
few men in the smoking-room had either to go back to their wives or
had some dinner engagement. So it came that I started alone for Earl's
Court.

I had written for a table to be kept for me at eight o'clock, and
a few minutes before the hour I disembarked at the entrance by the
lake. It was between the lights, and the great white globes aglow with
electricity looked garish against the delicate opal of the sky, and
cast strange reflections on the water. I paused for a moment to listen
to the blue-coated musicians on their island bandstand commencing the
march from "Aïda," and then went past the bronze Gordon on his camel,
past a buffet where a little crowd were dining frugally off sandwiches
and pale ale, over the long bridge, through the gardens, and at last
to the restaurant. In front of the broad awning which stretches before
the restaurant, standing by a red rope, which keeps the public from
coming too near, are two janitors, who, in their dark blue and peaked
caps, look rather like warders: a clerk at a desk, with a big open book
before him, sits opposite to the entrance.

Had I booked a table? the clerk asked me as I came up. Certainly I had.
I had written that I wanted a particularly good table at eight o'clock.
The clerk looked up at a tall gentleman with a reddish beard and
moustache who stood behind him, M. Gerard, Messrs. Spiers and Pond's
manager, and the gentleman with the beard looked at his watch. It was a
quarter-past eight. M. Gerard explained that no tables were kept after
eight, and drew a vivid picture of a well-dressed but famished crowd
standing outside at the red ropes and threatening to tear down the
place if they were not admitted to the vacant places. My table had been
given to an eminently respectable couple who did not look as if they
would tear down anything, and I was about to go over the way to the
Welcome, in wrath, when it was found that there was a table for four,
right up against the barrier, vacant; and I settled down in solitary
dignity at one of the best tables in the place. A smart young waiter,
in white apron and brown coat with pink facings, put the menu in front
of me. I ordered a pint of Deutz and Gelderman to be put in ice, and
then looked round me.

Immediately behind me a party were being entertained by two young
barristers. I could hear but not see them. They were telling legal
stories, and there was one as to Inderwick and the House of Lords
that set their table in a roar. Opposite to me was a little family
of father, mother, and son, and a pretty girl came bustling in to
complete the party, with, from her manner, a tale of misadventure and
delay to be told. A bald-headed, smart-looking soldier, a cavalryman
from his bearing, was giving dinner to a youngster who might be at a
crammer's--they were among the few men wearing evening dress; there
was an engaged couple who gazed into each other's eyes across the
table, and there was a fat gentleman, who I should think was a Jewish
financier, who was giving dinner to a girl with many rows of pearls
round her throat and a glint of diamonds on her dress. The financier
was drinking the girl's health, and as he held back his head to drain
his glass she made, lightning quick, a face at him, which said more
than pages of history.

I had eaten my _hors-d'œuvre_, and the waiter brought me the clear
soup I had chosen. It was not as hot as it should have been; but the
kitchen is some way off from the tables at the far edge of the awning,
and, with one of the most wonderful outlooks in the world, one is not
prepared to be over particular as to cookery.

The opal tints in the sky had died out and had left it a sheet of
steel. On the right the tall white building in which is the panorama
was already shining with electric light; the canvas buttresses and
towers, looking solid enough now, stood black against the grey. In
the bandstand in the centre of the promenade Dan Godfrey and his
crimson-coated musicians were playing a waltz air, and a crowd, dimly
seen, was moving round and round this centre of attraction. The Welcome
Club, with its lighted windows, was away to the left, and, above all,
the Great Wheel, starred with lights, moved its circle very gently and
silently. Men in the half light were running hither and thither with
long sticks with a flame at the end, and lights green, white, and rose
began to twinkle on all sides.

The choice had been given me between _saumon, sauce Rubens_ and _filet
de merlan frit, sauce Ravigote_. I chose the whiting, and had the cook
only been more careful in boning his fish I should have called it
excellent.

The engaged couple had left their table, and a merry party, two
nice-looking girls, a young, clean-shaven man, and a grey-haired _bon
vivant_, had taken their places. The girls, who had evidently come out
to enjoy themselves thoroughly, were laughing already.

The financier had ordered another bottle of champagne; the girl with
the pearls opposite to him, her chin on her fist, was gazing out
at the sky from which the light had faded. A big party, the men in
evening dress, passed through under the awning to the big room of the
restaurant, a room decorated with paintings of Indian gods and heroes
and rajahs, and the red shades of the candles on their table made a
pleasant note of warm colour.

My waiter brought the _pigeon braisé Démidoff_. I looked at it and it
appeared nice; but I sent it away, for I was not hungry, and there were
other dishes still to come.

The sky now was all light indigo, with the clouds deeper patches of the
same colour. All the little lamps in the garden were alight, twinkling
in great curves against the black of the battlements. The bandstand was
outlined with rose: the Welcome Club was ablaze with green: the trees
under all this light had a strange metallic shine. The rays from the
searchlight came sweeping overhead: the Wheel with its circle of stars
still turned solemnly. Amidst all the lights one inscription in green
and white lamps, "Infant Incubator," fixed itself on my attention, and
I found myself wondering what an infant incubator could be like.

The crowd outside had increased in number. There seemed to be many
ladies in white with white hats amongst it; there was occasionally
a gleam of white shirt fronts; little boys in straw hats and Eton
collars dived into the thick, and then reappeared; the programme boys,
in grey Early Victorian dress, came and went. The band was hammering
away at the "Mikado." Two pretty girls in black dresses with wide
white collars, one with a white sailor hat, one with a black one,
paused outside to watch us dining. I should have liked to ask them
in to dine, for I was feeling very lonely, but I remembered British
conventionality, and forbore. The _côtelette d'agneau à la Bellevue_
which the waiter brought me was hot and well cooked, but I do not think
that the chicken, a wing of which succeeded the cutlet, could have
lived a very happy life. I think it must have been consumptive.

The restaurant was beginning to empty now, the guests filing out in
twos and threes, and vanishing into the parti-coloured crowd; and
still the Wheel, with its silent power, turned, and still the "Infant
Incubator" danced before my eyes.

The beans, the ice, and the peach with which I finished my dinner were
all good--I refused the _pouding Victoria_ which was on the menu; and
after sipping my coffee and paying my bill--one dinner, 7s. 6d.; one
pint 239, 6s. 6d.; liqueur, 2s.; total, 16s.--I obeyed an irresistible
impulse and went over to see what an infant incubator was like.

 3_rd August_.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE STAR AND GARTER, RICHMOND


The little American prima donna was not so faithless as I thought, for
when, Goodwood being over, I wrote to her and asked her if she would
not take pity on a poor bachelor stranded in a deserted town, and drive
down to Richmond and dine, she telegraphed back a "Yes," and told me
that I might come and pick her up at the Hôtel Cecil.

The covered-in space before the big caravanserai in the Strand in June
and July, is almost as representative of English life as is church
parade in the Park. In August it is more like the hall of an hotel
at some big American watering-place, for our cousins from across the
herring-pond take possession of all the seats, and sit all day long
drinking iced drinks through straws, and listening to the band.

I found the little prima donna, looking very fresh and cool in pink,
rocking herself in a chair, and was immediately denounced for being in
dress clothes when I had wired to her not to change into evening dress.
I explained that dress clothes with a man are a very different thing
from evening dress with a lady, and also that it was the custom. "Some
of your English customs do tire me," was the remark with which the
prima donna closed the discussion, and then told me that I might have
a cocktail if I thought that it would make me feel good. This libation
in honour of the great republic performed, we started. The little prima
donna, the dress clothes forgiven, was prepared to be pleased. She had
a remark to make as to everything that we passed, and reconstructed
for me the Fulham Road as it would be in an American city. In time she
thought we might learn how to build a town. The groups of ponies coming
back from Ranelagh, where the last match of the season had been played
between the Butterflies and a home team, interested her immensely, as
also did some of the players driving back in their neat little carts
at a great pace, and later on a glimpse of the club grounds with the
great elms, the glint of water through a thicket, and the smooth green
of the polo ground, set her talking of American polo grounds, Myopia,
and other names which were strange to me; and though she was quite sure
that the boys over in America could whip our British players every
time, still she allowed that they had nothing there quite like the grey
old house with its elms and its water. The conversion of the little
prima donna was commencing.

The sun set, a red ball dipping into the brown heat mist, as we passed
over Barnes Common, and when the little prima donna said that we had
nothing in England like the sunsets over the Hudson, I felt that on
this day, at least, the sun was not behaving well in his manner of
setting.

We came to Richmond Park in the afterglow, and going in through the
Sheen gate, drove through the Park, which was glorified by the rosy
dimness which lingers so long at the close of a hot August day. The
mysterious light was on the great trees and the stretches of bracken
and the rolling distances of sward. The deer were moving through the
fern, and there was a drowsy silence, broken only by the calling of
the birds and the faint hum of the outside world shut away beyond
this fairy paradise. The little prima donna sat with parted lips and
wide-open eyes, drinking in all the scene and whispering at intervals,
"Beautiful! beautiful!" I had no need to ask her whether there was
anything like this in her country across the ocean.

Presently the bicyclists came drifting down the road in shoals. These
swift, silent travellers put a modern note into the picture of old-time
woodland, and suddenly we came to the iron gates, and the tall, grey
house, and the little prima donna said that her drive through fairyland
had given her an appetite.

The Star and Garter has as many appearances and moods as a pretty
woman. On a Sunday afternoon, when the bicycles are piled in tens of
scores outside the building, when the gravel is crunched continuously
by carriages coming and going, when every table in both dining-rooms
has its full complement of guests, and little groups stand outside
the glass panelling watching for their turn to come, when the
coffee-drinkers sit at the round tables in the passage, and the terrace
is bright with girls' dresses, and rings with laughter, when far below,
the face of the river is crowded with boats, and a crowd streams along
the towing-path, then the Star and Garter is frankly, merrily Cockney.
But on a summer night when the moon is at the full, when the windows of
the ball-room are alight, and the whisper of a waltz tune comes down to
the terrace, when the river runs a ribbon of silver through the misty
landscape, then the Star and Garter becomes an enchanted palace.

It was a quiet evening on the day that I drove down with the little
prima donna, but had I not telegraphed early in the day we should not
have got the table for two by the open window that looked out on to the
terrace and to the Thames in the valley below.

The little prima donna stood by the window and gazed out. She felt
the charm of the scene, but fought against it, for she was a little
piqued that she had never seen anything quite like it before, that the
United States did not hold its exact parallel. "I guess it is that your
landscapes are so small and so easily filled up that makes them so
different from ours," was her explanation; but that was not what she
meant.

The manager of the restaurant had told me that he had ordered a little
dinner for me, some _hors-d'œuvre, petite marmite,_ red mullet,
_tournedos, pommes sautées,_ a duckling, salad, and some ices; and I
told him that that would do very nicely. The _hors-d'œuvre_ were on the
table, but it was difficult, hungry as she was, to induce the little
prima donna to leave her first view of the river, a river now grown
steel-colour in the growing darkness, and to turn to the prosaic side
of life, and dinner.

It is a comfortable dining-room, with its green curtains to the big
bow-window, its paper with a flower pattern, its mirrors and its great
panes of glass through which the arched looking-glasses of the hall
can be seen. Of our fellow-diners there was no one whose face is well
known to the world. There was a young man with gold buttons to his coat
and a suggestion of the Georgian period in his full head of hair, who
was dining _tête-à-tête_ with a pretty dark-haired lady; there was a
bald-headed gentleman entertaining a family party; there were three
young gentlemen dining by themselves very merrily; the rest were the
people one sees at any good hotel.

The soup was excellent--though why managers of restaurants always
seem to think that _petite marmite_ is the only soup in existence I
do not know; but the prima donna was glad to put down her spoon and
look out of the window again. She had read that morning, she told me,
all the descriptions she could find of Richmond, in prose and verse;
but the real thing was more beautiful than any description of it had
prepared her for. I felt that the conversion of the little American was
progressing.

The fish was not a success. The weather was very hot, and, as the
prima donna put it, "this mullet, I guess, has not been scientifically
embalmed." The waiter, deeply grieved, spirited the fish away, and put
the tournedos, which were excellently cooked, in their place.

The pine outside the window was black now against the sky, and a chilly
breeze came up from the river. The little prima donna felt the chill,
and drew her cloak over her shoulders.

The duck was plump and tender, and when she had trifled with a wing,
the prima donna, hoping that nobody would be horrified, asked for a
cigarette. The ice and coffee and liqueurs finished, I called for the
bill--hors-d'œuvre, 2s.; marmite, 1s. 6d.; tournedos, 4s.; pommes,
1s.; caneton, 8s. 6d.; salade, 1s.; ices, 2s.; coffee, 1s.; one bottle
Deutz and Gelderman, 12s. 6d.; cigarettes, 1s.; liqueurs, 2s. 6d.;
couverts, 1s.; total, £1: 18s.--and then suggested that we should go
down on to the terrace. The prima donna leant over the balustrade, her
cigarette making a point of light, and gazed in silence at the darkened
landscape. The river, visible still amidst the darkness, had caught
and held in its bosom the reflections of the summer stars and of a
newborn moon. Presently she threw away the little roll of paper and
tobacco, and began quoting in a low voice--a speaking voice as musical
as singing--the lines of poor Mortimer Collins's swan song:--

    Stern hours have the merciless fates
        Plotted for all who die;
    But looking down upon Richmond aits,
    Where the merles sing low to their amorous mates,
        Who cares to ask them why?

The conversion of the little American was complete.

 9_th August_.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE CAVOUR (LEICESTER SQUARE)


I first met Arthur Roberts in the buffet of the Cavour, and first heard
there the tale of "The Old Iron Pot." On that occasion I was taken
by a friend into the buffet, a long room with a bar decorated with
many-coloured glasses, a broad divan running along the wall, and many
small tables by it. Seated on the divan was a thin, clean-shaven little
man, talking to a very tall man, also clean-shaven. So immersed in
their conversation were the two that they hardly acknowledged me when I
was introduced to them; "they" being Messrs. Arthur Roberts and "Long
Jack" Jervis, both of them then playing in "Black-eyed Susan" at the
Alhambra, almost next door. As far as I could make out, the entrancing
story that Mr. Arthur Roberts was telling, had as its central figure
an old iron pot. He was in deadly earnest in his recital. Mr. Jervis
and my friend were thoroughly, almost painfully, interested, and
accompanied the story with little exclamations of surprise and
sympathy, but for the life of me I could not follow the narrative.
All sorts and conditions of people suddenly were introduced into the
tale by name, and as suddenly disappeared out of it. Arthur Roberts
finished, and the other two broke into speeches of congratulation,
saying how thoroughly interested and affected they had been. I, in a
bewildered way, commenced to ask questions, when the mouth of the merry
comedian began to twitch up on one side, and his eyelids to blink. Then
I understood. I was another victim to the tale of "The Old Iron Pot."

It was in this buffet, which remains now as it was then, that Arthur
Roberts invented the game of "spoof,"--but that is a very long story.

There has always been a savour of Bohemianism around the Cavour,
and therefore it was only right and proper that the six of us who
sat down to dinner there one August evening, should all in our
time have wandered through the pleasant paths of the country of
free-and-easiness. With grey hairs has come ballast, and one of the
party is now a great landowner, doing his duty as high sheriff of
his county; two of the others are chairmen of boards controlling
great theatrical enterprises; a fourth, who won renown originally as
a Jehu, now coins money in successful speculation; and the fifth is
the trusted adviser of a well-known plutocrat. One of the chairmen,
who can claim the title of successful dramatic author as well, and is
not unknown on the Stock Exchange, was the giver of the feast. Our
gathering came about through an argument on the relative merits of
cheap and expensive restaurants, and whether there was value received
for the difference in the price of the dinners. The chairman was a
warm upholder of the cheap dinner, and concluded the argument by
saying, "When I go to the Savoy or Princes' I am prepared to pay for my
surroundings and company; when I want food only I go to Philippe of the
Cavour, and ask him to add something to his three-shilling dinner, and
to give me five-shillings-worth, and if you fellows will come and dine
with me there you shall try for yourselves." And "we fellows" said like
one man that we would.

The Cavour, which shows its clean white face, adorned with golden
letters, to Leicester Square, has grown immensely since I first made
its and M. Philippe's acquaintance. There comes first a narrow little
room, with a big counter on which fruit and flowers and cold meats are
displayed, and behind which a lady in black stands. Here M. Philippe,
shortish, grey-haired, with a little close-clipped moustache, black
coat, and turned-down collar, with a black tie, generally waits to
usher his patrons in, and find them seats. Then comes the big room,
the walls in light colour, brass rails all round to hold hats, on the
many mirrors a notice pasted, "Our table d'hôte Sundays, 6 to 9"; in
the centre a big square table with a palm in the middle of it, the
table at which, when the room is crowded, lone gentlemen are set to
take their dinner, and around the big table a cohort of smaller tables.
The ceiling mostly consists of a skylight, the windows in which always
keep the room cool. Beyond this room is another one, newly built, also
light in colour, and with many mirrors.

As soon as we were seated, M. Philippe came bustling up. He is a very
busy man, for he believes in the adage as to doing things well; and,
therefore, he is up at five every morning, and goes the round of the
markets, and in his own restaurant is his own _maître d'hôtel_. Yet,
busy as he is, he finds time to devote much attention to Freemasonry,
and his list of subscriptions to the various Masonic charities has
generally the biggest total of any sent in. He was supposed in this
charitable competition to have been, on one occasion, outstripped by
another worker in the cause, and we immediately began to chaff him on
the subject. M. Philippe acknowledged that a march had been stolen on
him; but to make up for it he had been eminently successful in securing
the admission of a little girl to one of the masonic institutions. "She
got in on top of our poll," was his way of putting it. The feast he had
prepared for us was as follows:--


                             Hors-d'œuvre.
                          La petite marmite.
                        Filets de soles Mornay.
                              Whitebait.
                       Poulet sauté Portugaise.
                     Côtes de mouton en Bellevue.
                         Canetons d'Aylesbury.
            Petits pois Française. Salade. Haricots verts.
                               Fromages.
                               Dessert.


I noted that the _petite marmite_--I seem doomed always to be given
_petite marmite_--was good, and was more enthusiastic than that over
the fillets of sole, for those, I thought, were "very good." The
whitebait, erring on the right side, were a trifle too soft. The
_poulet sauté Portugaise_ was a triumph of _bourgeois_ cookery, but so
rich that I was glad that the good doctor who takes an interest in the
state of my liver was not one of our party. The Aylesbury ducklings
were fine, plump young fellows, who must have lived a youth of peace
and contentment. We drank with this substantial dinner some '89 Pommery.

There is always a bustle at the Cavour, and a coming and going of
guests. Directly a table is vacated plates and glasses are whisked
away, fresh napkins spread, and in a few seconds M. Philippe has
personally conducted some incoming guests to their seats. The _table
d'hôte_ is served from five to nine. First to the feast comes a
sprinkling of actors and actresses, making an early meal before
going to the theatre. Then comes an incursion of white-shirt-fronted
gentlemen and ladies in evening dress, dining before going to the play.
Lastly comes the steady stream of ordinary diners, good _bourgeois_
most of them, who choose to dine as they have come from their City
offices, in frock-coats or other unostentatious garb.

As we settled down to our meal, a theatrical manager, who had been
giving one of the prettiest ladies of his company dinner, was leaving.
A well-known amateur coachman, just up from the country, had time
to give his wife something to eat before going off to catch another
train; a white-bearded gentleman was entertaining two pretty daughters
in evening dresses, and was desperately afraid that they would not get
to the theatre in time to see the curtain rise. A very pretty lady,
with a hat of peacocks' feathers and a great bow rising from it, was
an actress "resting." The rest of the diners who filled the room were
all good, respectable citizens and citizenesses, in fine broadcloth and
silk, but none of their faces was familiar to us through the pages of
the illustrated papers.

This was the bill paid by the chairman:--Six dinners at 5s., £1: 10s.;
three bottles Pommery, '89, £2: 2s.; one seltzer, 6d.; five cafés, 2s.
6d.; six liqueurs, 4s. 6d.; total, £3: 19: 6.

M. Philippe has a little pleasure-ground attached to the restaurant,
a plot of kitchen garden and an orangery, the vegetables and herbs
and fruit from which must cost him about a thousand times their value
at Covent Garden. But it is Philippe's hobby, and he likes to be able
to give any favoured customer a bunch of mignonette grown in a garden
within thirty yards of Leicester Square. At night the blazing cressets
of the Alhambra and the gas decorations of Daly's light this strange
little bit of _rus in urbe_, and when one wonders at a practical man
keeping such desirable building land for such a purpose, M. Philippe
shrugs his shoulders and says, "The earth he grow every day more
valuable."

 16_th August_.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE CAFÉ ROYAL (REGENT STREET)


My sister-in-law is the daughter of a dean. I do not make this
statement through family pride, but because it is pertinent to what
follows.

Man and boy, these six years or so, I have known little Oddenino,
who now rules the destinies of the Café Royal. The little man, with
his quiet, rather nervous manner and big serious eyes, went from the
management of the East Room at the Criterion to the Washington in
Oxford Street, then to the big hotel at Cimiez, and has now put the
Café Royal into shape.

During the summer of 1897, I was one day, towards lunch-time, pacing
up and down the passage which leads from the pillared door in Regent
Street to the café and grill-room portion of the big establishment, a
passage which has on one side the bookstall where the French papers are
on sale, and on the other the manager's offices, when a door opened and
Oddenino appeared. I asked him what he was doing in the Café Royal, and
he told me that he had come as manager. Then he put his head on one
side and considered me. With the utmost politeness he suggested that I
was waiting for a lady, a soft impeachment which I admitted, and that
I was not in the best of tempers, which was also true. He was deeply
grieved, but tried to console me by saying that when I came back to
town in the autumn I should find a comfortable room upstairs to wait
in, and went on to tell me of the other improvements he intended to
make. One great grief he had, and that was that some people thought
that the company that frequented the restaurant was rather Bohemian.
How anybody could think so, I told him, I could not understand, and
as a triumphant proof of this I told Oddenino that the first lady
whom I would bring to dine in the redecorated restaurant should be my
sister-in-law, the daughter of a dean.

In the autumn the opportunity arrived for carrying out my promise. My
brother was away slaughtering many driven partridges in Wiltshire,
and my sister-in-law--did I mention that she is the daughter of a
dean?--was left in solitary dignity in town. I went in the afternoon
of the day we were going to dine to apprise Oddenino of our impending
visitation--that word has a comforting clerical sound--and to order
dinner.

My sister-in-law is not partial to shellfish, so the oysters with which
I should have begun the feast were not to be thought of, nor were
most of the most delicate ways of cooking a sole to be considered.
My sister-in-law has always said that my idea of a perfect dinner is
semi-starvation, so I included two entrées instead of one in the menu.
This was the dinner which I, in consultation with Oddenino, settled
upon:--


                          Hors-d'œuvre Russe.
                              Pot au feu.
                             Sole Waleska.
                     Noisette d'agneau Lavallière.
                     Haricots verts à l'Anglaise.
                         Parfait de foie gras.
                          Caille en cocotte.
                                Salade.
                              Pole nord.


When I suggested an ice, and Oddenino wrote down _pole nord_, I asked
him what particular ice that meant. It was only a cream ice served on a
pedestal of clear ice, he said; but he thought that _pole nord_ to end
a menu sounded grand and mysterious.

I should, out of compliment to my sister-in-law, have liked to have
driven up to the Café Royal in an equipage such as dignitaries of the
Church use, with a hammer-cloth and a white-wigged coachman; but a
humble coupé had to suffice.

We went up the staircase, which has been regilt and refurbished,
and has more flowers and plants than of yore, and into the little
waiting-room at the top of the stairs, which Oddenino had promised to
have built for me to save wear and tear of my temper. It is not a very
large waiting-room, a promise only of better things to come, a slice of
the first of the big rooms partitioned off by a screen of mirrors. Some
easy-chairs look comforting even to a hungry man, and, no doubt, not
only my temper, but that of others, will profit by it in the future. A
table had been kept for us in the first room, and when my sister-in-law
had settled down she began looking carefully at the diners at the other
tables. I asked if there was any one whom she expected to see, and was
told that she was looking for the actresses I had promised to point out
to her. Our table commanded a fine view of the room we were in and the
big room, the windows of which look on to Glasshouse Street. There was
scarcely a vacant table, but nowhere could I see an actress to point
out to my sister-in-law. There was a celebrated doctor, clean-shaven
and with white hair, dining _tête-à-tête_ with his wife; there was a
well-known barrister, invincible in licensing cases, who was giving a
dinner to his wife and daughter; there was a big dinner-party of men
all hailing from the Stock Exchange; there was a smart little lady
talking hunting to three entranced youths; but nowhere could I see a
face that I recognised as belonging to an actress.

My sister-in-law thought that she had been defrauded, but luckily the
fat waiter, an old ally of mine, appeared at the right moment with the
caviar, and the _sommelier_ was anxious to know whether I would have
the Clicquot vin rosée, which poor M. Nicol used to say was the best
champagne in the cellar, iced. My sister-in-law approved highly of the
soup, and indeed it was excellent, simple and strong. Then came the
_sole Waleska_, and I was anxious to see whether my sister-in-law--who,
I have omitted to state, is the daughter of a dean--appreciated the
delicacy of the sauce and the almost imperceptible flavouring of
cheese. She did, and I forgave her on the spot for not liking oysters.
The _noisette d'agneau_ was not quite on a par with the glory of the
remainder of the dinner, for the tiny morsels of lamb, the foundation
of the _plat_, might have been more tender; but I am sure that if the
dear departed geese of Strassburg could have looked upon their livers,
placed snugly in a great _terrine_, to which the blocks of truffle
gave a half-mourning effect, and covered decently with a fair coating
of transparent jelly, they would have been consoled for all their
over-eating and subsequent demise.

At this period of our dinner little Oddenino came up, and I asked him
to point out some of the alterations to my sister-in-law. He showed her
the new lamps, which cast a pleasant rosy light on the tables; the new
carpet; sent the _maître d'hôtel_ to fetch samples of the new china and
glass and silver which by now have been taken into use; explained how
the kitchen, which is under the rule of M. Charles, has been doubled
in size; and how the serving arrangements, which of old were _coram
populo_, and carried out with an accompaniment of shrill female voices
and much clashing of plates, were now safely concealed behind a wall of
mirrors. I told Oddenino that I thought that even now too much noise
came through the open door which leads to the serving-room; for I
hold a really good dinner to be so sublime a thing that the homage of
absolutely silent attendance is due to it; and the little man, looking
suddenly as sorrowful as if he had lost a near relation, promised to
have swing doors put up, so that not a whisper should penetrate to the
dining-rooms.

The quails were delicious. Their flesh almost melted in one's mouth,
as my sister-in-law remarked. When the _pole nord_ came the ice proved
not to be an ordinary one, but a semi-fluid delicacy cased in harder
cream ice. The ice pedestal was in the shape of a bird resting on
rocks, and when I made a feeble little jest about Andrée's pigeons
my sister-in-law laughed. I reproved her austerely, telling her that
if she laughed thus she would be taken for an actress. Whereon she
retorted that she did not want to be taken for an actress, but that
she wanted to be one. I opened my eyes in a query, and she said that
if actresses were given every night such a dinner as she had eaten she
wanted to be an actress.

I paid my bill while my sister-in-law admired the beautiful
flower-decked Minton china, a trayful of which was brought to her, the
glasses with a golden N and a crown on them and the heavy silver. The
bill was: two couverts, 1s.; hors-d'œuvre, 2s.; pot au feu, 2s.; sole
Waleska, 3s. 6d.; suprême d'agneau, 3s. 6d.; haricots verts, 1s. 6d.;
parfait de foie gras, 4s.; caille cocotte, 5s.; salade, 1s.; pole nord,
2s. 6d.; café, 1s. 6d.; one bottle '67, 15s.; liqueurs, 2s.; total, £2:
4: 6.

I told my sister-in-law that if we were not to miss the first act of
the play we were going to see, we had better be going, so she laid down
the straw through which she had been sucking her _crème de menthe_, and
with a sigh, a tribute of remembrance to the quails, put on her gloves.

I have now a sister-in-law who is the daughter of a dean, but who wants
to become an actress.

 1_st November_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since writing the above the Café Royal has definitely taken its place
once again as one of the first-class restaurants of London. Little
Oddenino has continued making improvements, putting in a lift, making a
cloak-room, and adding generally to the comfort of the place.

I asked the little man to send me the menu of a dinner given to the
late Mr. "Barney" Barnato before he started on his ill-starred journey
to the Cape, and also to ask M. Charles to give me the _recette_ of the
_soles Waleska_. M. Oddenino sent me a menu, which is a good specimen
of a Café Royal dinner for a large party; but which I do not recognise
as the Barnato menu, and also the _recette_ for _filets de sole
St-Augustin_--named after him, for his "front name" is August--the very
latest delicacy in fish.

Here are menu and _recette_--

 Solera 1852            Hors-d'œuvre Russe
                        Huîtres natives
                        Consommé Prince de Galles
                        Turbotin à la Polignac
 Veuve Clicquot 1889    Suprême de volaille à la Montpensier
                        Côtelette d'agneau de lait à la Régence
                        Corbeille de pommes soufflée
 Giesler 1884           Parfait de foie gras
 Extra dry              Bécassine rôtie sur canapé
                        Salade de cœur de laitue
 Château Lafite 1875    Nageoires de tortue à l'Américaine
 Martinez 1863          Asperges nouvelles Anglaise. Sauce mousseline.
                        Ananas glacé
                        Soufflé au fromage
 Grande Fin Champagne,  Corbeilles de fruits
 Waterloo 1815          Café

Here is the _recette_ of the _filets de sole St-Augustin_, to which
both M. Charles, the _chef_, and M. Oddenino, its godfather, have set
their signature--


_Recettes de filets de sole St-Augustin_

_Prenez une belle sole bien fraîche, enlevez-en les filets, pliez-les
en deux, mettez-les dans une casserole avec un morceau de beurre, sel,
poivre et un bon verre de champagne._

_Faites cuire les filets de sole, aussitôt prêts retirez-les et faites
réduire la cuisson aux trois-quarts, ensuite ajoutez-y une demie-pinte
de crème et laissez réduire un moment le tout ensemble._

_Mettez à part dans une casserole vingt-quatre queues d'écrevisses avec
une truffe fraîche emmincie, un peu de beurre, sel et poivre, faites
chauffer le tout doucement et mélangez ensuite votre sauce avec la
garniture._

_Dressez les filets de sole sur un plat rond, saucez par dessus, ajoutez
un peu de fromage rapé pardessus, faites glacer au four et servez très
chaud._

[Illustration]

Take a large, perfectly fresh sole. Fillet it. Fold the fillets in two,
and put them in a saucepan, with a piece of butter, salt, pepper, and a
glassful of champagne. Let the fillets cook until they are done, then
take them out, and boil down the stock to three-quarters, then add to
it half a pint of cream, and boil it all down together, for a moment.
In another saucepan (a silver one), put the tails of twenty-four
crayfish, with a truffle, freshly cut up, a little butter, and a little
salt and pepper. Let this get hot very slowly, and mix your sauce with
the garnish. Arrange the fillets of sole on a round dish and glaze them
over. Serve very hot.



CHAPTER XXX

FRASCATI'S (OXFORD STREET)


I am beginning to flatter myself that I am a success in clerical
circles. One week I took out to dinner my sister-in-law--who, I omitted
to state, is the daughter of a dean; and the next week I successfully
entertained a dear, simple-minded, white-haired old clergyman who had
come from his parish in the North to London on business.

Two little boys home from Harrow are sitting at a table by an open
window, looking through the frame of rose sprays and streamers of
virginia-creeper to the turn of the road in the foreground, where
the black wood of the sun-dial, put up to commemorate the battle of
Waterloo, stands out against the rose red of the old brick wall behind
it, where one of the posts of the village stocks still exists as a
warning to evildoers, with beyond, in the middle distance, the great
horse-chestnuts and the village cricketing ground, which serves as a
promenade for the postmaster's geese. The whole landscape is closed in
by a great forest of firs, on the outskirts of which red roofs and the
tarnished gold of thatch chequer the dark green. Behind the two little
boys stands a curate fresh from Oxford, who is trying to hammer into
their thick little heads the translation of

   ----cur apricum
   oderit campum----

his own thoughts all the time, like theirs, being on the
cricket-ground, and not with Quintus Horatius Flaccus. That is the
picture that always comes to me when I think of my old clerical friend.

He was a keen cricketer, and bowled underhand with a cunning break from
the off which was too much for the yokels of the teams that our village
eleven annually held battle with; and those daily two tiresome hours
over, our holiday task done, he would bowl, at the net put up in the
neighbouring field, as long as we chose to bat. His one dissipation
now is a visit to London annually to see the Oxford and Cambridge
cricket-match, and he always stays when he comes to London at my
mother's house. Unexpected business had brought him south last week,
and one evening he would have been alone had I not offered to take him
out somewhere.

Where to take him was a puzzle. I did not think that he would
appreciate the delicacy of Savoy, or Cecil, or Prince's, or Verrey's
cookery; the refinements of the Berkeley and the Avondale, and the
light touch of M. Charles's hand would be as naught to him. Luckily I
remembered that last July he had been taken to dine at Frascati's, by
a friend and old parishioner of his, and that the place and the dinner
had made so great an impression on him that his conversation for the
next day consisted chiefly of praise of the gorgeous palace in which
he had been entertained. If Frascati's had proved such a success once,
I saw no reason why it should not be so again, and suggested that we
should dine there, a suggestion which met with decided approval; so I
telegraphed to ask that a table might be reserved for me upstairs.

My previous experiences of Frascati's had been chiefly confined to the
grill-room, a gorgeous hall of white marble, veined with black, with
a golden frieze and a golden ceiling, where I often eat a humble chop
or take a cut from the joint before going to listen to Dan Leno or
some other mirth-provoker at the Oxford next door; but looking at the
great restaurant after we had settled down into our seats I could quite
understand that the building would appear as gorgeous as a pantomime
transformation-scene to the eyes of any one not _blasé_ by our modern
_nil admirari_ London. There are gold and silver everywhere. The
pillars which support the balcony, and from that spring up again to the
roof, are gilt, and have silver angels at their capitals. There are
gilt rails to the balcony, which runs, as in a circus, round the great
octagonal building; the alcoves that stretch back seem to be all gold
and mirrors and electric light. What is not gold or shining glass is
either light buff or delicate grey, and electric globes in profusion,
palms, bronze statuettes, and a great dome of green glass and gilding
all go to make a gorgeous setting. The waiters in black, with a silver
number in their button-holes, hover round the tables; somewhere below
a string band, which does not impede conversation, plays. My old tutor
rubbed his hands gently and smiled genially round at the gorgeousness,
while I told the light-bearded manager that what I required was the
ordinary _table-d'hôte_ dinner, and picked out a Château Margaux from
the long lists of clarets.

This was the menu of the _table-d'hôte_ dinner:


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                          Consommé Brunoise.
                            Crème Fontange.
                     Escalope de barbue Chauchat.
                             Blanchaille.
                        Filet mignon Victoria.
                            Pommes sautées.
                         Riz de veau Toulouse.
                        Faisan rôti au cresson.
                                Salade.
                          Pouding Singapore.
                            Glacé vanille.
                           Fromage. Fruits.


A platter divided into radiating sections held a great variety of
_hors-d'œuvre_, the rosy shade of the lamp threw its light upon a
magnificent bunch of grapes on the summit of a pile of other fruits,
and the manager in the background kept a watchful eye upon the waiter
who was putting the _consommé Brunoise_ on the table. I could not help
wondering whether my telegram had not in some way divulged the fact
that I carried a fork under the banner of the Press, and that I was
getting in consequence a little better treatment than the ordinary.
Certainly my bunch of grapes looked like the one that the Israelitish
spies brought back from Canaan, in comparison with the ones on the
other tables, and the _chef_ had no niggard hand when he apportioned
the truffles and little buttons of mushrooms to our dishes of the
_escalope de barbue_ and the _riz de veau Toulouse_.

My old tutor was considering the diners at the other tables
benignantly, and having quite an unjustifiable belief that I know
the face or everybody in London, asked me who they were. Whether we
had come to dine on an exceptional night I do not know, but all our
fellow-guests were in couples: the men, I should fancy, principally
gentlemen who spend their days in offices in the City, or in banks,
fine specimens, most of them, of young England; and the ladies with
them, either their wives or ladies who will eventually honour them
by becoming so, as handsome representatives of British womanhood as
I have ever seen collected under one roof. Out of all this gathering
of stalwart men and pretty ladies there was not a single face that
I recognised, and I am afraid I went down in the good old man's
estimation as being a walking dictionary of London celebrities. My
old tutor said that the _escalope de barbue_ was excellent, and it
certainly looked good. I tried the whitebait, and found it too dry.
The fillet was good. The _chef_ had surrounded the _riz de veau_ with
truffles and tiny mushrooms and many other good things, and my old
tutor, who ate it, said that it was excellent.

The little tables on the ground floor had all filled by now, and the
lady behind the long bar, with piles of plates on it, and with a long
line of looking-glasses behind it reflecting many bottles, was very
busy. A subdued hum of talking and the faint rattle of knives and forks
against crockery mixed with the music of the band.

The pheasant was a fine plump bird; the ice was excellent. I insisted
on my old tutor having a glass of port to end his dinner, and after
much pressing--for one glass of wine is all he allows himself as a rule
at a meal--he was over-persuaded. Then he rubbed his hands and beamed,
and told me stories of his own schoolboyhood: how he once fought
another boy, now a Colonial Governor, and smote him so severely on
the nose that it bled; and of a dreadful escapade, which still weighs
on his mind--nothing less than going to see a race-meeting, and being
subsequently soundly birched.

This was the bill I paid:--Two dinners at 5s., 10s.; one bottle 6A,
7s.; half-bottle 61, 5s. 6d.; total, £1: 2: 6.

My old tutor went away with his enthusiasm of the summer still
unimpaired; and when next I have a country cousin to take out to dinner
I shall go to Frascati's.

 8_th November_.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE FREEMASONS' TAVERN (GREAT QUEEN STREET)


The Victory Chapter of the Knights of the Pelican and the Eagle,
perfect and puissant princes of Rose Croix, has been closed, and
gentlemen in evening clothes are being helped into their great-coats
in the entrance corridor of Mark Masons' Hall by the rotund sergeant
who keeps guard there in a glazed box. Most of these gentlemen have
mysterious flat tin cases, which they hand over to the sergeant or
another official to be taken care of for them until spring brings round
again another meeting of the Chapter.

There is no unnecessary waiting in the Mark Masons' Hall, for it is now
a quarter-past seven, and dinner has been ordered next door, at the
Freemasons' Tavern, at seven. A few yards of pavement only lie between
the lamps of Mark Masons' Hall and the glass shelter before the doors
of the Tavern, and in twos and threes the gentlemen in evening dress
hurry from one door to the other.

Great Queen Street is quite a Masonic quarter, for opposite to the
Tavern are two shops in which there is a brave show of Masonic
jewellery, great candelabra, pillars, swords, highly-coloured pictures,
and other adjuncts of Masonry. A humble house of refreshment, which
also appeals to Freemasons for custom, faces the Tavern. The Tavern
is not what the name implies. It is a restaurant, with a public
dining-room, with a fine ballroom, and with many private dining-rooms.
Its outside is imposing. Two houses stand side by side. One is of
red brick, with windows set in white stone, and is Elizabethan in
appearance. The other, of grey stone, is of a style of architecture
which might be called "Masonic." From the pillars of the second story
there rises an arch on which are carved the figures of the zodiac.
In front of this are stone statues representing four of the Masonic
virtues, of which Silence, with her finger on her lip, is the most
easily identified. In all the details of the building there is some
reference to Freemasonry and its attributes.

At the entrance to the Tavern stand two great janitors. Facing the
doorway, at the end of a wide hall, is a long flight of stairs broken
by a broad landing and decorated with statues. Up and down this ladies
and gentlemen are passing, and I ask one of the janitors what is
going on in the ballroom. "German Liederkranz. Private entertainment.
What dinner, sir? Victory Chapter. Drawing-room," is the condensed
information given by the big man, and he points a white-gloved hand to
a passage branching off to the right. On one side of the passage is
a door leading into a bar where three ladies in black are kept very
busy in attending to the wants of thirsty Freemasons. On the other side
is a wide shallow alcove in the wall fitted with shelves and glazed
over, and in this is a curious collection of plate, great salvers,
candelabra, and centrepieces. Beside the alcove is a glass door, and
outside it is hung a placard with "Gavel Club. Private" upon it. At the
end of the passage a little staircase leads up to higher regions, and
on the wall is an old-fashioned clock with a round face and very plain
figures, and some oil paintings dark with age.

On the first landing there is a placard outside a door with "Victory
Chapter" on it, and higher up outside another door another placard with
"Perfection Chapter" on it. From the stream of guests and waiters which
is setting up the stairs it is evident that there are many banquets to
be held to-night.

The drawing-room is white-and-gold in colour. Four Corinthian pillars,
the lower halves of which are painted old-gold colour, with gold
outlining the curves of their capitals, support a highly-ornamented
ceiling, the central panel of which is painted to represent clouds,
with some little birds flitting before them. The paper is old-gold in
colour with large flowers upon it. There is some handsome furniture in
the room--a fine cabinet, a clock of elaborate workmanship, and some
good china vases. The curtains to the windows are of red velvet. At
the end of the room farthest from the door is a horseshoe table with
red and white shaded candles on it, ferns, chrysanthemums, and heather
in china pots, pines, and hothouse fruits, and at close intervals
bottles of champagne and Apollinaris. At the other end of the room,
where stands a piano, with a screen in front of it, the gentlemen in
evening clothes are chatting, having put their coats and hats on chairs
and piano wherever room can be found. The waiters, in black with white
gloves, are putting the last touches to the decorations.

Dinner is announced; a move is made to the table, and each man finds
his place marked for him. There is a precedence in Freemasonry, as at
Court, and this is adhered to in arranging the places at table.

The Victory is a Chapter which is very much in touch with the army and
navy, and looking round the table, the company, but for the sombreness
of their attire--for one or two Orders at the buttonhole, and here and
there a decoration at the throat, are the only spots of colour--might
be hosts and guests at some military mess dinner. The "Most Wise,"
who sits at the head of the table, does not belong to either of the
services, but on one side of him is the heir to a dukedom, who led at
one time a troop of the Household Cavalry, and on the other one of the
most popular of our citizen soldiers, equally at home on parade as in
his civic chair when Master of one of the City Companies. These are
flanked again by a well-known brigade-surgeon and a cheery Admiralty
official. The gentleman who has just said grace, in two Latin words,
left very pleasant recollections behind him when as ex-Lord Mayor he
left the Mansion-House. All round the table are faces with the sharp
soldierly cut or naval bluffness.

The "Grand Secretary" has ordered the dinner, and in the whole length
and breadth of the world that hospitable Freemasonry covers, no man
knows better how to construct a menu than he does:--


                              Crevettes.
                             Tortue clair.
                       Filets de sole Meunière.
                   Vol-au-vent aux huîtres natives.
                           Faisan Souvaroff.
                           Selle de mouton.
                       Céleri braisé Bordelaise.
                       Laver. Pommes Parisienne.
                            Poularde rôtie.
                         Lard grillé. Salade.
                        Bombe glacée Duchesse.
                            Os à la moëlle.
                            Dessert. Café.


I have eaten some good dinners at the Freemasons' Tavern, and others
not so good. To-night the cook is not up to his best form, and has not
responded to the inspiration of the menu. The turtle soup is not like
that of the excellent Messrs. Ring and Brymer, or that of Mr. Painter;
the _faisan Souvaroff_ is dry, and the cook's nerve has failed him
when the truffles had to be added; but, on the other hand, the _sole
Meunière_ and the _vol-au-vent_ are admirable, and the marrow-bones are
large and scalding-hot.

The genial old custom of taking wine is part of all Masonic dinners,
and after the "Most Wise" has drunk to the other guests, much friendly
challenging takes place. The marrow-bones having been disposed of, the
ex-Lord Mayor, the Chaplain of the Chapter, says a grace as short as
that before meat, and then follow the loyal toasts. It is the custom
of the Chapter that speeches should be short, and the toasts of Her
Majesty and the Prince of Wales, and the few Masonic toasts that
follow, occupy very little time. Then the cigars are lit, and the
formal order at table is broken up and little knots are formed.

One by one the guests who have an appointment elsewhere, or who are
going to the theatre, say good-night and go off; but a remnant still
remain, and these make an adjournment to a cosy little clubroom on
the top story of Freemasons' Hall, where good stories are told, and
soda-water-bottle corks pop until long after midnight.

 15_th November_.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a small Masonic dining-club, called the Sphinx Club, which
dines at the Freemasons' Tavern, and which I mention because the dinner
I last ate in company with my brother Sphinxes was one of the best
efforts of the chef and of the manager Mons. Blanchette--which means
that it was very good indeed. The club was founded as an antidote
to the large amount of soft soap that Freemasons habitually plaster
each other with in after-dinner speeches. No Sphinx is allowed to say
anything good of any brother Sphinx, and when a candidate is put up
for the club his proposer says all the ill he knows or can invent about
his past life. A candidate can only become a member of the club by
being unanimously blackballed. It is needless to say that the best of
temper and good fellowship is the rule amongst the Sphinxes, and the
Freemasons' Tavern seems to always have a very good dinner for them.
This was the menu of their last banquet--


                               Huîtres.
                             Tortue clair.
                       Rouget à la Grenobloise.
                        Caille à la Souvaroff.
                      Agneau rôti. Sauce menthe.
                    Choux de mer. Pommes noisettes.
                          Bécasse sur canapé.
                   Pommes paille. Salade de laitues.
                            Os à la moëlle.
                     Petit soufflé glacé rosette.
                           Fondu au fromage.
                               Dessert.
                                 Café.



CHAPTER XXXII

SCOTT'S (PICCADILLY CIRCUS)


He was the junior subaltern when I commanded H company in the old
regiment, and a very good subaltern he was. It was only the other day
that I read how in one of the first skirmishes in an Indian trouble he
had distinguished himself by standing over a wounded man and keeping
off the hillmen till assistance came; and it seemed strange to meet him
now in crumpled, sun-scorched clothes, with a soft handkerchief round
his neck, and with a very thin white face, walking up the Haymarket.

"They hit me, you know," he said, in answer to a question. "The wound
in my shoulder healed directly, but the wound in the neck gave a lot of
trouble, and the doctors packed me home as soon as they could."

I particularly wanted to hear of the deed that the boy had done, and
asked him to come and dine at a club; but his dress clothes were stored
away somewhere in the Punjab--where, he did not know--with the heavy
baggage of the regiment, and his London tailor had not made him new
ones yet. Besides, he would not be able to put on a collar for weeks,
perhaps months, and though he would be glad to dine quietly with me, he
asked that it might be somewhere where he would not feel uncomfortable
at not being in dress clothes. We were standing at the top of the
Haymarket, my eye caught the two great smoked salmon hung up in Scott's
window, and I asked the junior subaltern if oysters and a lobster _à
l'Américaine_ were to his taste.

He had not eaten any oysters, except the Karachi ones, which are
brought in ice to the towns of the Punjab, since he left England six
years ago; and though he did not know what his surgeon and doctor
would say to his eating lobster, he was prepared to risk their wrath.
Half-past seven was the hour I appointed to meet him, and then I went
into Scott's to secure a table and to order dinner.

Scott's, springing from its ashes, has become a gorgeous place, with
pillars of some material which looks like black marble inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, with stained glass and much ornamentation in worked
brass, and with a great plate-glass window which displays a show of
ice and fish and lobsters and crabs and salad-stuff that looks most
appetising.

Inside, it may be said to be divided into four parts. There is the wide
entrance hall, at either side of which are marble counters with many
plates and little bottles upon them, and piles of sandwiches made with
fish delicacies, and piles of slices of brown bread and butter. Behind
the counters stand men in white samite, who are constantly opening
oysters, and behind them are mirrors with, on shelves above the glass,
piles of little kegs which suggest how suitable a small barrel of
oysters is as a Christmas present. In the midst of this entrance hall
sacred to the oysters a staircase leads down to the lower regions, "The
Dive," as it is labelled, where there are comfortable curved divans
with a little table as the pearl in the midst of these brown leather
shells, and on the walls a Japanese fantasy in tiles where strange fish
swim in and out of weeds. Upstairs on the first floor are the regular
dining-rooms with red blinds, red shades to the electric lamps, and
a warm red paper; and behind the hall, with its oyster bars, is the
grill-room, shut off from draughts by a great screen of glass and brown
wood which reaches from floor to ceiling.

I ordered our dinner in the grill-room. A dozen of oysters, some
mock-turtle soup, _homard à l'Américaine_, and a steak.

At 7.30 to the second the junior subaltern was there, and I smiled
inwardly as I recognised the cut of the Calcutta tailor in his black
coat, well creased by having been jumped on to make it fit into a
bullock trunk.

I took him into the grill-room, where the manager had kept a corner
table for us, and after a look round at the neat little room, with
its mirrors framed in white marble veined with black; its red marble
pilasters with gilt capitals; its grill, at which the white-clothed
cook, with a table of chops and steaks at his elbow, stands; its little
glass case in the corner, in which a lady in black keeps accounts in
big books; its stained glass skylight; its yellowish-brown cornice
with many figures upon it; its many little tables at which stolid and
respectable citizens were giving their wives dinners, or, if alone,
were reading the evening papers: he turned his attention to his oysters.

The first time that a man tastes a native oyster after six years of
exile is a solemn moment, and I would not disturb him while he ate
them; but when there were only empty shells on his plate, and he had
drunk his glass of Chablis, I began to ask questions.

"Tell me all about that day on the spur I have read of, and how you
came to be recommended for the V.C.," I said.

The junior subaltern took a great gulp of the mock turtle and began.
"You remember J. Smith--he was a lance-corporal when you commanded the
company." "Corporal," I amended. "Well, corporal. He did ripping well
that day. He's colour-sergeant of the company now, and there was one
time when, as we were retiring, some of the devils got right on our
flank and enfiladed us. Well, Colour-Sergeant Smith just gave one yell
and went for them, and old Kelly, who used to be your bat-man, and Pat
Grady went with him, and they killed six of the Mamunds."

"My boy," I said, "I want to know what _you_ did, and not what
Colour-Sergeant Smith did."

"This is ripping good soup," said the subaltern.

It was very good soup. The cook, divining that I had an invalid as a
guest, had put a liberal mixture of real turtle with the mock turtle,
and it was practically turtle soup. I had sipped the Beaune, and found
it a little tart, and the manager brought us a fresh bottle before I
opened my second parallel with the advent of a really splendid dish of
lobster.

"I want to know now," I said, with a touch of the manner with which
I used to ask him if all the entries in the small books of his
half-company were brought up to date, "what happened when you stood
over that wounded man, and three big hairy hillmen all made a rush at
you at once, and got to close quarters before the men could get back to
bayonet them."

The junior subaltern was very much occupied with his steak. "Old Major
So-and-So was just senior to you in the regiment?" he asked at last,
and I said that that was so. "Well, he was ripping cool that day, and
he made a joke that the men talked about afterwards. We had destroyed
the mud huts that they called a village, and we were waiting till
the wounded had got well to the rear before retiring. The Major was
in command of our companies that day, for the Colonel was with the
companies in reserve. Well, the Major was sitting on a great rock,
looking at the country----" "What sort of country is it?" I interposed.
"Oh, just mountains and ravines and nullahs, and that sort of thing--a
beastly sort of a place," the subaltern said, believing that he was
conveying the fullest information, and then went on. "Well, the Major
was sitting on the rock smoking that old meerschaum of a nigger's head
which he'd had for years. A bullet came and smashed the pipe to atoms.
He spat out the pipe-stem and then shook his fist at the place where
the shot had come from. 'You blackguards,' he said, 'you're not fit
company for a gentleman to smoke a meerschaum with; I'll only treat you
to clays in future.' Well, the men were amused by this, and----"

"Young man," I said severely, "I knew that pipe, and it is a good
thing it is gone. That steak you have disposed of was good, and these
herring-roes I have ordered for you while you were blathering are
excellent. Eat them, and then get to business at once."

The junior subaltern ate the roes, which were perfect; and when the
coffee and the brandy were brought, he looked at me to see if I was
really in earnest, and began again, "Do you remember James Pilch, who
was the company's cook?"

"No, my boy," I said, "I do not remember James Pilch, nor do I want to.
Waiter, my bill."

The bill was brought. Oysters, 3s.; lobster, 8s.; soup, 2s.; grill,
3s.; vegetables, 6d.; wine, 7s.; bread and butter, 4d.; coffee, 1s.;
liqueurs, 5s.; roes, 2s.; total, £1: 11: 10.

This paid I turned to the subaltern. "Young man," I said, "I am now
going to personally conduct you to the club smoking-room, and if I have
to sit up with you all night with a stick I intend to be told how you
came to be recommended for the V.C."

The junior subaltern groaned.

 22_nd November_.



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE EAST ROOM (CRITERION, PICCADILLY CIRCUS)


"I want father to take me to see 'The Liars,'" said pretty Miss
Carcanet ("Brighteyes" to her friends), "but he says that he sees too
many of them as it is in his club smoking-room, and won't go with me."

There was naturally only one thing to do, and that was to offer to take
Lady Carcanet and Miss Brighteyes to the play at the Criterion.

Sir George was evidently relieved at not having to go to the theatre,
and thanked me. "It is just the play that ought to suit you," he added,
"for I hear it's all about menus and sauces."

Lady Carcanet, however, could not go to the play. She was retiring to
Brighton to escape the fogs, and did not know when she would come back.
Sir George settled it all, however, over the walnuts and the port. He
had to preside at a political dinner one day in the coming week, and if
I would take Miss Brighteyes out to dinner and to the play that night
it would take a responsibility off his shoulders. "Let the old woman
get away to Brighton, and don't say anything till she's out of the way.
I am all for letting the girl enjoy herself freely; but Maria thinks
that no unmarried girl should stir without two chaperons and a maid to
guard her." I nodded assent to Sir George's opinions, but I knew that
he would never have dared to call Lady Carcanet "the old woman" to her
face.

I bought the tickets for "The Liars," and on the morning of the day I
was to have the responsibility of chaperoning Miss Brighteyes I went to
the Criterion, to the East Room, to order my dinner and choose my table.

M. Lefèvre, the manager, is an old acquaintance of mine, for once
before the East Room was under his direction, and now, with M. Node and
Alfred as his adjutant and sergeant-major, he still keeps a watchful
eye over all that takes place there. He is an enthusiast on cookery,
and should one day write a book on the introduction of good foreign
cookery into England, for he talks of M. Coste and Maître Escoffier,
and the other great pioneers of culinary progress, with real enthusiasm.

There are three tables, one of which I always take, if possible, when
I dine in the East Room. One is the little table in the corner by the
entrance from the ante-room, another a table sheltered by a glass
screen, and the third a table in the corner at the far end of the room.
I told Alfred to keep me the table at the far end of the room; and then
M. Lefèvre--tall, with a thin beard, with strong, nervous hands, that
he clasps and unclasps as he talks--arrived, and we talked over our
menu. Caviar I preferred to oysters, for I did not know whether Miss
Brighteyes cared for shellfish, and then we passed to the consideration
of the soup.

I suggested that it should be a consommé, as I did not want a heavy
dinner, and M. Lefèvre hit on exactly the right thing, a _consommé de
gibier_. Next came the fish, and as the details of the fillet of sole
with soft herring-roe, and the sharp taste of prawn and crayfish to
make the necessary contrast were unfolded, I nodded my head. _Cailles à
la Sainte Alliance_ we settled on at once, and then came the difficulty
of the _entrée_. I wanted a perfectly plain dish, and in a grilled
chicken wing and breast we found our way out of our difficulty. There
was a novelty, a method of cooking bananas that M. Lefèvre, who
believes that bananas are not sufficiently appreciated, wanted us to
try.

The menu completed read thus:--


                                Caviar.
                      Potage consommé à la Diane.
                      Filets de sole aux délices.
                     Suprêmes de volaille grillés.
                    Carottes nouvelles à la crème.
                     Laitues braisées en cocotte.
                     Cailles à la Sainte Alliance.
                      Salade de chicorée frisée.
                          Croûtes à la Caume.
                     Soufflé glacé à la mandarine.


Then, having nothing in particular to do for a quarter of an hour, I
walked round the building with M. Lefèvre, looked in at the Great
Hall where the statue of Shakespeare gazes contemplatively down upon
the chairman's head at big public dinners; the hall next to it,
which is only one degree smaller in size; the Masonic temple and the
Chapter-room; and the prettiest room of all, the room in which the
French dinner is served, on the walls of which is an Oriental design
of roses which would not have been out of place in one of the pleasure
chambers of Akbar at Agra.

In the evening, before Miss Brighteyes, who was to be escorted as far
as the ante-room to the East Room by Sir George, arrived, I had a few
minutes in which to go and see that all was ready at my table, and to
look round to see whether there was anybody whom I knew dining. It was,
I should think, the first occasion on which I have dined in the East
Room and have not recognised a single face; but all the ladies appeared
very smart, all the men were well groomed, the usual type of diners at
a good restaurant. If I had looked at the book in which the names of
people ordering dinners are noted, I should no doubt have found that
there were a dozen people among the well-dressed diners whose names are
familiar in our mouths as household words.

The little ante-room, with its green and cream walls, its mirrors,
its big fireplace, and its comfortable chairs, is cosy enough to
have a soothing effect on a worse-tempered man than myself; and my
patience was not much tried, for Sir George formally handed over Miss
Brighteyes to me not five minutes after the time at which I had
ordered dinner.

Miss Brighteyes looked very delightful in a dress of some white
gossamer material with spangly adornments, which resembled diamonds,
scattered over it. She wore a diamond brooch and a necklet of pearls
with a diamond clasp, which had been her birthday presents from her
father on her seventeenth and eighteenth birthdays.

When Miss Brighteyes gets up on her society high horse she reduces me
to comparative silence. While I was being given some details as to
beautiful decorations at St. George's on the occasion of her cousin's
wedding, I tried in vain to make Miss Brighteyes understand that the
caviar she was eating deserved some attention, but she was not to be
turned from her account of an aisle decorated with chrysanthemums and
palms.

Had a man dared to talk to me about the Grafton Supper Club while
he was drinking the delicious consommé I should have reproved him,
and asked him to reserve conversation for the interludes of the
repast; but Miss Brighteyes, not thinking in the least of the serious
responsibility of eating a good dinner, chattered gaily of Miss Mary
Moore's black and white dress at the supper a week gone by, and reeled
off a catalogue of names from the Peerage of the men who had been her
partners at the little informal dance that followed the supper.

While I ate with appreciation the _délices de sole_, I was told why
Miss Brighteyes preferred Princes' to Niagara as a skating-rink, or
_vice versa_, I forget which.

With the _suprême de volaille_ I was given a short account of a party
at the Bachelors' Club to see a magic-lantern entertainment, and when
the _cailles à la Sainte Alliance_ were brought up Miss Brighteyes
was beginning to tell me of some charades, at her aunt's house, acted
by children. But the quails were a dish in the presence of which I
felt that small talk must cease. "Miss Brighteyes," I said gravely,
"cast your eyes around this room. You see dainty panels of dark green
traced over with gold, you see red and gold cornices, a ceiling of
cream and gold studded with lights innumerable, bronze velvet curtains,
yellow-shaded lamps, fine napery, glass, and silver. All this is but
the framing to what is contained in this little earthen _terrine_.
Into the interior of a little ortolan M. Gastaud himself, the _chef
cuisinier_, has introduced a little block of truffle and other
delicacies. That little ortolan has been imbedded in a quail, and this
sacred alliance, over which M. Jeannin, _chef des cuisiniers_, has
smiled, has been served up cooked to the instant for your delectation.
Is this a moment, then, young lady, to talk of children's charades? Is
not thankful silence better?"

Miss Brighteyes appreciated the solemnity of the moment, and also ate
the bananas--which she said were very good--in silence. It was not
until she had begun her soufflé that she found voice to tell me about
a new and very smart cycling club of which she had been asked to be an
original member.

I paid the bill: couverts, 2s.; caviar, 4s.; potage, 2s.; filets de
sole, 3s.; suprêmes de volaille et légumes, 8s.; cailles, 10s.;
salade, 1s.; croûtes à la Caume, 2s.; soufflé glacé, 2s.; vin, "'62" (a
capital bottle of claret), 5s.; eau minérale, 6d.; liqueurs, 3s.; café,
6d.; total, £2: 3s.

"Now," I said to Miss Brighteyes, "we will go down to the theatre and
listen in comfort to a discussion as to _sauce Arcadienne_ and _sauce
Marguérite_."

 29_th November_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since I wrote the above Mons. Lefèvre has had, through temporary
ill-health and overwork, to resign his position as manager at the
Criterion, being succeeded by Mons. Gerard. Mons. Cassignol has
succeeded Mons. Jeannin as the king of the kitchen.

The decorations of the East Room have been altered, and it is now
resplendent in white, gold, and moss-green. The West Room is now all
pink, and a gilt musicians' gallery has been put up in the redecorated
entrance-hall.

Mons. Lefèvre being an enthusiast on the subject of bananas in cookery,
I asked him if he would give the _recette_ of the _croûtes à la Caume_,
and as he said "certainly," and seemed pleased to do it, I put in a
request for the _recette_ of the _filets de sole aux délices_, and that
was given me as well.

I also asked Mons. Lefèvre to draw out for me two menus of what he
would consider distinctive east-room dinners for four people and for
ten. They were sent to me and admirably thought out dinners they are.
This is the feast for four--


                                Caviar.
              Consommé Prince de Galles. Crème de santé.
                  Truites de rivière à la Cléopâtre.
               Epaule d'agneau de lait à la Boulangère.
                   Petits pois nouveaux à la crème.
                Caneton Nantais farci à la Rouennaise.
                           Salade Victoria.
                       Soufflé glacé à l'orange.
                              Friandises.


And this for ten--


                           Huîtres natives.
               Potage clair à la tortue. Crème Raphaël.
                  Darne de saumon au court-bouillon.
               Cassolettes de laitances à l'Américaine.
                        Cailles à la Mascotte.
                Noisettes de chevreuil à la Cumberland.
                       Haricots verts nouveaux.
                         Purée de champignons.
                     Chapons du Mans à la truffe.
                          Salade à la crème.
               Asperges d'Argenteuil. Sauce mousseline.
                             Glacé Alaska.
                      Diablotins à la Joinville.
                               Dessert.


_Suprêmes de soles aux délices_

_Rangez vos filets de soles dans un plat beurré; arrosez-les
de vin blanc et faites-les pocher pendant dix minutes. Egoutez
ensuite vos filets et dressez-les sur un plat oval. Faites réduire
rapidement la cuisson avec un peu de bon velouté et un morceau
de beurre d'écrevisses. Quand votre sauce est prête, jetez-y des
queues d'écrevisses et recouvrez en vos filets de soles. Dressez aux
extrémités du plat des quenelles d'écrevisses décorées à la truffe, et
servez._

Arrange your filleted soles on a buttered dish, sprinkle them with
white wine, and cook them for ten minutes. Then drain the fillets, and
arrange them on an oval dish. Boil down the liquor rapidly, with a
little good _velouté_ sauce and a piece of crayfish butter. When your
sauce is ready, throw into it the tails of the crayfish, and cover the
fillets of sole with it. Round the edge of the dish place quenelles of
crayfish decorated with truffles, and serve.


_Croûtes à la Caume_

_Vous préparez vos croûtes avec de la brioche en tranches d'un
centimètre d'épaisseur, que vous faites rôtir légèrement au four
après les avoir saupoudrées au sucre. Vous les dressez en couronne
sur un plat rond, au milieu, mais avec quelques losanges d'ananas au
centre. Vous prenez des bananas pas trop mûres, mais surtout bien
saines. Vous les jetez avec leur peau dans de l'eau froide que vous
mettez a bouillir. Après deux minutes d'ébullition, les bananes sont
cuites. Vous les retirez, vous les épluchez, et les rangez sur votre
plat autour des croûtons. Vous arrosez l'ananas et les bananes d'une
sauce abricot parfumée au Kirsch, et vous servez bien chaud, après
avoir décoré de quelques fruits confits. C'est très simple. Toutes les
ménagères peuvent faire ça. C'est cependant la façon la plus exquise de
manger la banane._

[Illustration]

You prepare your pieces of bread, or brioche, in slices about half an
inch in thickness, and bake (or toast) them lightly in the oven, after
having sprinkled them with sugar. Arrange them in the form of a crown
upon a round dish, placing them in the middle, but with some pieces of
pineapple in the centre. Take some bananas, not too ripe, but perfectly
sound and good, throw them into cold water with their skins on, and let
them boil. After boiling for two minutes the bananas will be done. Take
them out of the water, peel them, and arrange them on the dish, round
the croûtons. Sprinkle the pineapple and the bananas with apricot sauce
flavoured with kirsch, and serve very hot, after having ornamented the
dish with preserved fruits.



CHAPTER XXXIV

THE MONICO (SHAFTESBURY AVENUE)


He, a gentleman on the Stock Exchange, who has generally a stock of
good stories, mentioned in the course of a letter to me that he had
heard a really good tale of the last bye-election, and would tell it
to me the next time that we met, as it was too long to write. Now,
that particular election is fast becoming ancient history, and if that
story had to be retailed to my circle of country friends, it would have
to be done quickly. Therefore I wrote to my stockbroker, who lives in
Shaftesbury Avenue, and asked him to name a day to come across the way,
and dine at the Monico.

The day settled, I went to the Monico and interviewed the manager,
Signor Giulio C. Nobile, a gentleman of stalwart figure, with a
pleasant smile, and a small but carefully-tended moustache. I wanted to
kill two birds at a stone--to hear the story and to see what the Monico
and its cooking were like, for it is a restaurant which somehow or
other has not fallen within the circle of my usual dining-places.

I asked Signor Nobile what he considered the speciality of the great
restaurant over which he presides; and though he was anxious to give me
a specially ordered dinner, I came to the conclusion that I could best
test what the establishment could do by trying the 5s. _table d'hôte_
in the Renaissance room on the first floor.

"Dinner at 7.30 for two, if you please, and pray remember that I want
exactly the _table d'hôte_ dinner that all your customers get," was my
last request to Signor Nobile, and he smiled and said that that should
be so.

At 7.30 my facetious stockbroker friend, ruddy of face, his moustache
carefully curled, and his expansive white waistcoat garnished with
gold-and-coral buttons, appeared on the scene. As the lift, engineered
by a smart page, took us up to the first floor he began: "It's the
funniest story you ever heard, and will make you die of laughter. There
was a doubtful elector and----" But the lift stopped, and there was
Signor Nobile bowing and smiling on the landing.

"We have five minutes to spare, Signor Nobile," I said, "and while they
are putting the _hors-d'œuvre_ on the table, will you take us round the
house and show us the different rooms?"

The Signor led, I followed, and my friend the stockbroker brought up
the rear. First we went into a great hall on the first floor, where a
smoking-concert was in progress, and thunders of applause were greeting
a gentleman in evening dress who had just concluded a song. "It is
some one going abroad, and they are giving him a send-off," was Mr.
Nobile's explanation. Next we went down to the ground-floor through a
hall, where people were sitting at little round-topped tables drinking
various beverages, and down some steps into a German beer saloon, with
pigmies and other strange creatures painted on the walls. Up again to
the first floor, through a long grill-room with little white-clothed
tables in four rows, then a peep into a restaurant, and a flight in
the lift up to the second floor, where solemn gentlemen in black were
eating a dinner of ceremony in a very pretty saloon with an Egyptian
room as a reception-room next door. Our five minutes were over, we had
seen most of the big rooms of the house, and, descending, we took our
places at a table by one of the windows in the Renaissance Saloon.

"Now for that story," I said; but my stockbroker was puffing and
blowing. "Give a fellow a few minutes to get his breath, after
rushing him up and down stairs at racing pace," he said; so I turned
my attention to the room, the menu, and the company. The room is a
symphony in old gold and grey. The paper has a gold pattern on a grey
ground, the long line of windows have soft grey curtains. At one end of
the room is a great clock above a large mirror. The ceiling is a series
of square frames enclosing circular painted panels. The orchestra is in
a balustraded balcony, with an arch above it, held high by two pillars.
In the centre of the room, among the little tables, a palm grows out
of a great vase. There are blue glass shades to the electric globes
that drop from the ceiling, and the silver lamps that stand on the
table are curtained with crimson. Waiters in white waistcoats and black
coats, and white-aproned sommeliers, with great silvered badges, come
and go past the clerks' desk, which stands below the orchestra.

The diners, mostly in pairs, were fitting occupants of the handsome
room. There was a very beautiful lady with a big diamond where the
centre parting of her hair left her forehead; and another lady in a
mantilla, who would have many gallants with guitars below her windows
had she lived in Seville. Most of the couples were evidently going to
the theatre, and left soon after we arrived. This was the menu:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                           Consommé Bortsch.
                           Crème à la Reine.
                          Soles à la Nantua.
                         Poularde Valencienne.
                         Tournedos Princesse.
                  Canards sauvages. Sauce Port wine.
                                Salade.
                           Biscuits Monico.
                             Petits fours.
                               Dessert.


When my stockbroker had drunk his Bortsch, which was well made,
he began: "It is rather a long story, but it will make you die of
laughing. There was a----" but at that moment Signor Nobile, who
had been smiling in the distance, came up with a leaflet on which
was inscribed the names of the Royalties who have from time to time
honoured the Monico with their presence. There are evidently some
regiments with Royal colonels who always go to the Monico for their
annual dinner.

"Go on with your story," I said, when Signor Nobile had once more
smiled himself into the background; but a waiter had just then shown
us a tempting dish of _filets de sole à la Nantua_, a _plat_ really
admirably cooked, and as my stockbroker took up his fork he said, "Yes,
and be pilloried by you in print for talking to you while you are
eating. Not me."

The poularde, a fine fat bird reposing in a bed of rice, satisfactorily
disposed of, I told the waiter not to bring the tournedos for a few
minutes, and settled back in my seat to hear the story of the doubtful
elector.

"It's a long story; but you'll die with laughing when you hear it,"
my stockbroker began again. "There was a voter, and he would tell
nobody----" Just then the band commenced the overture to "Guillaume
Tell." Now, it is an excellent band, and M. Paul Bosc, the conductor,
is an admirable soloist on the violin; but when it gets to work at a
Rossini overture the music takes the place of conversation, and my
stockbroker stopped abruptly and waited for a better opportunity.
Before the band had concluded the waiter had given us our tournedos.

The wild duck we were given _à la presse_, and when we had eaten our
slices of the breast I said, like Demetrius, "I wonder"; for I was
wondering whether all the pretty ladies and good-looking gentlemen had
been treated as well as we had been. Five shillings is not a very large
sum. Chickens and wild-duck cost money, even when bought wholesale,
and we had been given a whole chicken and a whole wild-duck. "If I were
you," said the stockbroker, philosophically, "I shouldn't trouble to
wonder. I should either eat my dinner--and it has been a good one so
far--or else I should listen to an interesting story as to the doubtful
elector."

I took his advice, in so far as eating my dinner was concerned, for the
_biscuit_ was capital.

Signor Nobile came up to ask if the dinner had been satisfactory, and
I had only pleasant words to say to him. Then my stockbroker drew a
long breath, and was about to begin, when once more I interrupted
him. "Pardon me," I said, "let me order coffee and liqueurs, and pay
my bill. The orchestra is enjoying ten minutes' interval, and there
will be, once the bill is paid, nothing to interrupt the flow of your
discourse, nothing to mar my enjoyment of it."

This was the bill:--Two dinners, 10s.; one bottle 210, 16s. 6d.;
liqueurs, 5s.; coffee, 1s.; total, £1: 12: 6. This paid, I prepared to
enjoy a really good story. "There was a voter who would tell no one
on which side he was going to vote," I commenced, to gently lead my
stockbroker up to his story. But he looked at his watch. "Very sorry,
my dear boy," he said, "but I have an appointment in two minutes' time
I daren't break. I must tell you the story another day. It's a bit
long, but you'll die with laughter when you hear it."

I have not as yet heard that voter story, and am still alive.

 6_th December_.



CHAPTER XXXV

GOLDSTEIN'S (BLOOMFIELD STREET)


                             HORS-D'ŒUVRE.
                     Smoked Salmon. Solomon Gundy.
                                Olives.

                                SOUPS.
                         Frimsell. Matsoklese.
                           Pease and beans.

                                 FISH.
                Brown stewed carp. White stewed gurnet.
                      Fried soles. Fried plaice.

                               ENTRÉES.
                       Roast veal (white stew).
                     Filleted steak (brown stew).

                               POULTRY.
                      Roast capon. Roast chicken.
                         Smoked beef. Tongue.

                              VEGETABLES.
                         Spinach. Sauerkraut.
                         Potatoes. Cucumbers.
                             Green salad.

                                SWEETS.
                         Kugel. Stewed prunes.
                            Almond pudding.
                            Apple staffen.


When I looked at the above I groaned aloud. Was it possible, I thought,
that any human being could eat a meal of such a length and yet live? I
looked at my two companions, but they showed no signs of terror, so I
took up knife and fork and bade the waiter do his duty.

The _raison d'être_ of the dinner was this: Thinking of untried
culinary experiences, I told one of the great lights of the Jewish
community that I should like some day to eat a "kosher" dinner at a
typical restaurant, and he said that the matter was easily enough
arranged; and by telegram informed me one day last week that dinner
was ordered for that evening at Goldstein's restaurant in Bloomfield
Street, London Wall, and that I was to call for him in the City at six.

When I and a gallant soul, who had sworn to accompany me through thick
and thin, arrived at the office of the orderer of the dinner, we found
a note of apology from him. The dinner would be ready for us, and his
best friend would do the honours as master of the ceremonies, but he
himself was seedy and had gone home.

On, in the pouring rain, we three devoted soldiers of the fork went, in
a four-wheeler cab, to our fate.

The cab pulled up at a narrow doorway, and we were at Goldstein's.
Through a short passage we went towards a little staircase, and our
master of the ceremonies pointed out on the post of a door that
led into the public room of the restaurant a triangular piece of
zinc, a Mazuza, the little case in which is placed a copy of the Ten
Commandments. Upstairs we climbed into a small room with no distinctive
features about it. A table was laid for six. There were roses in a tall
glass vase in the middle of the table, and a buttonhole bouquet in
each napkin. A piano, chairs covered with black leather, low cupboards
with painted tea-trays and well-worn books on the top of them, an
old-fashioned bell-rope, a mantelpiece with painted glass vases on it
and a little clock, framed prints on the walls, two gas globes--these
were the fittings of an everyday kind of apartment.

We took our places, and the waiter, in dress clothes, after a surprised
inquiry as to whether we were the only guests at the feast, put the
menu before us. It was then that, encouraged by the bold front shown by
my two comrades, I, after a moment of tremor, told the waiter to do his
duty.

I had asked to have everything explained to me, and before the
_hors-d'œuvre_ were brought in the master of the ceremonies, taking a
book from the top of one of the dwarf cupboards, showed me the Grace
before meat, a solemn little prayer which is really beautiful in its
simplicity. With the Grace comes the ceremony of the host breaking
bread, dipping the broken pieces in salt, and handing them round to his
guests, who sit with covered heads.

Of the _hors-d'œuvre_, Solomon Gundy, which had a strange sound to me,
was a form of pickled herring, excellently appetising.

Before the soup was brought up, the master of the ceremonies explained
that the Frimsell was made from stock, and a paste of eggs and flour
rolled into tiny threads like vermicelli, while the Matsoklese had in
it balls of unleavened flour. When the soup was brought the two were
combined, and the tiny threads and the balls of dough both swam in a
liquid which had somewhat the taste of vermicelli soup. The master of
the ceremonies told me I must taste the pease and beans soup which
followed, as it is a very old-fashioned Jewish dish. It is very like a
rich pease-soup, and is cooked in carefully-skimmed fat. In the great
earthenware jar which holds the soup is cooked the "kugel," a kind of
pease-pudding, which was to appear much later at the feast.

Goldstein's is the restaurant patronised by the "froom," the strictest
observers of religious observances, of the Jewish community, and we
should by right only have drunk unfermented Muscat wine with our
repast, but some capital hock took its place, and when the master
of the ceremonies and the faithful soul touched glasses, one said
"Lekhaim," and the other answered the greeting with "Tavim." Then,
before the fish was put on the table, the master of the ceremonies told
me of the elaborate care that was taken in the selection of animals
to be killed, of the inspection of the butcher's knives, of the tests
applied to the dead animals to see that the flesh is good, of the
soaking and salting of the meat, and the drawing-out of the veins from
it. The many restrictions, originally imposed during the wandering in
the desert, which make shellfish, and wild game, and scaleless fish
unlawful food--these and many other interesting items of information
were imparted to me.

The white-stewed gurnet, with chopped parsley and a sauce of egg and
lemon-juice, tempered by onion flavouring, was excellent. In the brown
sauce served with the carp were such curious ingredients as treacle,
gingerbread and onions, but the result, a strong rich sauce, is very
pleasant to the taste. The great cold fried soles standing on their
heads and touching tails, and the two big sections of plaice flanking
them, I knew must be good; but I explained to the master of the
ceremonies that I had already nearly eaten a full-sized man's dinner,
and that I must be left a little appetite to cope with what was to come.

Very tender veal, with a sauce of egg and lemon, which had a thin sharp
taste, and a steak, tender also, stewed with walnuts, an excellent dish
to make a dinner of, were the next items on the menu, and I tasted
each; but I protested against the capon and the chicken as being an
overplus of good things, and the master of the ceremonies--who I think
had a latent fear that I might burst before the feast came to an
end--told the waiter not to bring them up.

The smoked beef was a delicious firm brisket, and the tongue, salted,
was also exceptionally good. I felt that the last feeble rag of an
appetite had gone, but the cucumber, a noble Dutch fellow, pickled
in salt and water in Holland, came to my aid, and a slice of this,
better than any _sorbet_ that I know of, gave me the necessary power to
attempt, in a last despairing effort, the kugel and apple staffen and
almond pudding.

The staffen is a rich mixture of many fruits and candies with a thin
crust. The kugel is a pease-pudding cooked, as I have written above,
in the pease and beans soup. The almond pudding is one of those moist
delicacies that I thought only the French had the secret of making.

Coffee--no milk, even if we had wanted it, for milk and butter are not
allowed on the same table as flesh--and a liqueur of brandy, and then,
going downstairs, we looked into the two simple rooms, running into
each other, which form the public restaurant, rooms empty at 9 P.M.,
but crowded at the mid-day meal.

Mr. Goldstein, who was there, told us that his patrons had become
so numerous that he would soon have to move to larger premises, and
certainly the cooking at the restaurant is excellent, and I do not
wonder at its obtaining much patronage.

What this Gargantuan repast cost I do not know, for the designer of the
feast said that the bill was to be sent to him.

I think that a "kosher" dinner, if this is a fair specimen, is a
succession of admirably cooked dishes. But an ordinary man should be
allowed a week in which to eat it.

 13_th December_.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE TIVOLI (THE STRAND)


La Princesse Lointaine was passing through town on her way to Rome, to
her husband's palazzo--to the great grim building where the big suisse
stands on guard by the entrance, and soft-footed servants in black move
noiselessly about the high tapestried rooms. Her note with the tiny
monogram and the coronet on it said that she was at the Savoy for a few
days, and would I come and dine, on her last evening in England, and
talk of old days?

I always call the pretty lady who has the honour of bearing the name
of one of the oldest families of Italian nobility, "la Princesse
Lointaine," for the glint of sunlight her presence brings comes so
rarely and vanishes so quickly. It was at the old Delmonico's, at
one of the assemblies, that I first met her, an American heiress in
her second season, light-haired, large-eyed, with that perfect tact
that comes naturally to American and French women. I had letters of
introduction to her father, and she, taking entire charge of me as the
stranger in the land, made me feel at home, and stamped that ball in
my memory as one of my pleasantest recollections. She was married a
year later in Rome, and I thought never to see her again; but one day
at Fort William, in Calcutta, I got a note with a little monogram and
coronet, brought by a peon from the Great Eastern Hotel, and I found
that my Princesse Lointaine and her husband, travelling round the
world, were making a fortnight's stay in the city by the Hugli, before
going on to China and Japan. I showed her and her husband the forlorn
grandeur of the empty palaces of the dead King of Oude, the spot where
the Black Hole was, the church by the river where the first sturdy
British traders left their bones, and all the other sights of Calcutta.
They sailed away, and the next time that I saw her was at Venice one
summer when Queen Marguerite had gone there for the bathing, and the
grave husband, in some office about the court, had gone there also.
Once again I saw her in her Roman home. And now, passing through from
New York to the grim palazzo in Rome, she had written me a couple of
lines to tell me to come and talk to her.

I would not let her give me dinner at her hotel; for in London she was
the stranger and my foot was on my native flagstones, and I suggested
that if she would not mind a very quiet dinner she should do me the
honour of dining with me almost next door at the Tivoli, where I knew
we should be quiet, where the dining-room is a very charming one, where
the music is not loud enough to interfere with conversation, and
where, with M. Aubanel in supreme command, I felt sure that the cooking
would be good. If she cared to go on to a theatre, I would take a box
somewhere. A line in reply told me that I might pick her up at the
Savoy and take her on to dinner, but that after dinner she would sooner
sit and talk than go to a theatre, for there was much packing to be
superintended before bedtime.

I could not, as I was taking la Princesse Lointaine away from the
Savoy and Maître Escoffier's masterpieces of cookery, leave my dinner
to chance, so in the afternoon I went and interviewed M. Aubanel, the
manager, who, mustachioed, with a full head of black hair brushed off
from his forehead, is as well known on the Riviera, where he has an
hotel, as he is in town.

As one of the cooks under M. Racoussot, the chef, is a Russian, and
was one of the great Cubat's assistants, I knew I was safe in ordering
Russian _hors-d'œuvre_. A very plain soup, sole (cooked in any fashion
that did not include _moules_, of which shellfish I remembered that the
Princesse was afraid), a very plain entrée of meat, snipe, asparagus,
and an ice, were my requirements, and the menu, as M. Aubanel sketched
it out, ran thus:--


                               Zakouski.
                             Poule au pot.
                      Filets de sole Florentine.
                 Côte de bœuf aux légumes printaniers.
                          Bécassines rôties.
                            Salade Romaine.
                  Asperges vertes. Sauce mousseline.
                           Bombe Princesse.
                               Dessert.


The Princesse was waiting for me when I drove up to the Savoy. She was
wearing a magnificent cloak lined with ermine, and I could catch the
glint at her throat of the diamonds and pearls which had been heirlooms
in her husband's family for many generations. I felt at the sight of
so much grandeur almost ashamed at the simplicity of the dinner I had
ordered.

The Palm Room at the Tivoli has been decorated so as to form an
excellent background to a pretty and well-dressed woman. The walls are
panelled with some soft material of two shades of dark green which
looks like stamped velvet. There is a breast-high decoration of soft
coloured marbles. The pillars are chiefly of gold, and the ceiling, the
pattern of which is formed by palm leaves, is white and gold. There are
soft dark green portières and curtains, and the chairs are upholstered
in dark green velvet. Orange shades to the electric globes which hang
from the ceiling diffuse a soft warm light over everything. And no
prettier subject for a handsome background to show up could be found
than the Princesse when she had shed her furs. Two little light curls
came down upon her forehead, the pearls and diamonds were her throat
ornaments, and her dress was all white and silver. The lace of the
bodice looked to me as if it were one of the wonders of Benares make,
and round her white arms were three broad bands of silver lace.

The _hors-d'œuvre_, on a second small table, were placed alongside the
round table, prettily decorated with flowers, which had been arranged
for us in one corner of the room, and one of these delicacies, a soft,
creamy pâté, in which the taste of anchovies dominated the other
ingredients, was excellent.

The Princesse was in high spirits and brimming over with gossip about
New York. I heard all about the glories of the latest mammoth hotel,
and was told of the lovely decorations of the new Delmonico's, and of
the dinner-party the Princesse gave there on its opening night. I was
given a description of most of this year's débutantes in the city of
Gotham, and was entrusted with the whole truth as to the anonymous
letter scandal. Many other things also I was told, most of which I have
forgotten.

The soup was plain and good. The _filets de sole_, with the taste of
parmesan, the thin slices of truffle, the thick green sauce and fried
soft roe were excellent, though, to be severely critical, the taste of
the cheese in the _plat_ was just a little too pronounced.

From New York the Princesse jumped to Rome. She dilated on all the
pleasures of the coming season in the City of the Seven Hills, trying
to induce me to make holiday after Christmas and exchange Bond Street
for the Corso. Rome, it seems, is to be exceptionally gay this winter,
and I assured the Princesse that it was not the will that was wanting
to change the sight of fog-blurred streets for the view of the swell of
snow-topped Soracte through the sparkle of the Roman air.

The _côte de bœuf_, served like a gigantic cutlet with a paper frill on
the bone, was very tender, and the snipe were succulent morsels. The
asparagus was rather hard, but asparagus in December is not a dish to
be captious about. The _bombe_ was a magnificent erection, looking like
a wedding-cake, and the Princesse, accepting its name as a compliment
to herself, insisted on taking the sugar flowers it was decorated with
back to her hotel with her as a trophy.

We sat and sipped our coffee and Curaçao Marnier and chatted, while the
band, behind a gilt grille, played pianissimo music, and the diners at
the other tables gradually went off to theatres and music-halls. Our
fellow-diners were not very smart. Indeed, the _monde qui dine_ does
not seem yet to have taken to the Tivoli, which deserves a trial, for
the cook is first class and the dining-room a beautiful one.

At last the Princesse Lointaine said that she must go home and pack, so
I asked for my bill. I am afraid that M. Aubanel treated me too kindly
in the matter of prices, but I could hardly argue that matter out while
the Princesse waited to be taken back to her hotel. One Moët, cuvée
'36, 13s.; hors-d'œuvre, 1s.; poule au pot, 2s.; filets de sole, 2s.
6d.; côte de bœuf, 4s.; bécassines, 4s.; salade, 1s.; asperges, 5s.;
bombe, 2s.; café, 1s.; liqueurs, 2s.; total, £1: 17: 6.

"You won't come to Rome, then, this winter?" said la Princesse
Lointaine as she bade me good-bye, and I sorrowfully answered that I
only wished I could.

 20_th December_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. A.A. Tate is now manager and proprietor of the Tivoli restaurant,
and a 3s. _table-d'hôte_ dinner in the palm-room and good plain cooking
in the grill-room seem now to be the specialities of a restaurant which
at one time entered into competition with the Savoy, the Princes', the
Cecil, and the other restaurants of _la haute volée_.



CHAPTER XXXVII

THE GORDON HOTELS (NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE)


MY DEAR AUNT TABITHA--First, let me thank you for the tracts entitled
"The Converted Clown" and "The Journalist Reclaimed"; they will have my
attention. It was no doubt your nephew John's conscience which impelled
him to place my devotion to Shakespeare, and other dramatic authors of
like calibre, and my efforts to improve humanity through the press,
before you in the light he has done. When I have an opportunity of a
personal interview with him I shall attempt to change his opinions.

That I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in London soon after the
New Year is indeed good news. My cousin Judith I shall have the honour
and privilege of meeting for the first time. It must, indeed, be a
pleasure for a young lady, the curriculum of her studies in Switzerland
at an end, to be returning _via_ Paris; and your notion of meeting
her in London, receiving her from her escort, conveying her to an
hotel near the station of arrival, and affording her the delight of
witnessing such entertainments in London as may be edifying, is, I
think, an admirable one.

There are, as you rightly suppose, hotels in the Northumberland Avenue,
which is within a stone's-throw of Charing Cross, and in answer to your
request I will give you, to the best of my power, a short description
of each. I am not aware of Miss Judith's disposition, whether it be
lively or of a serious complexion; but if I write to the utmost of
my ability the characteristics of the three hotels--the Grand, the
Victoria, and the Métropole--you should be the best judge as to which
would most thoroughly suit your needs.

I regret that I cannot inform you as to whether the new-fashioned or
the old-fashioned doctrines are favoured by the three managers. As to
the distribution of tracts, I would very dutifully suggest that you
should mark out the persons in the hotel whom you think should be so
benefited, and allow me, after your departure, to see that the tracts
reach a suitable destination.

The Grand Hotel, with which I will begin, as it lies nearest to
Charing Cross, presents a curved face both to Trafalgar Square and
Northumberland Avenue, and from its windows a fine view can be seen
of the pillar erected to the hero Nelson, whose deeds you have been
good enough to admire while reprobating the frailties of his life. I
inspected the sitting-rooms on the first floor, and saw some, notably
a room decorated in white colour, with a fine view over the Square,
and well within hearing of the bells of the neighbouring church,
which would suit you admirably. But Miss Judith might prefer the stir
and gaiety of the public rooms to a private apartment, and the great
dining-room with its white marble pillars with gold capitals, its
mirrors set in a frame of deep-coloured velvets, its roof of stained
glass, its many tables covered with white napery, is a most chaste yet
withal cheerful apartment. A smaller dining-room in which alabaster
pillars support the roof, is also a delightful room. The hall, which
has pillars of white and black marble, is handsome, and has absorbed
what was once the reading-room. Should you desire to give a family
dinner during your stay--for which I am not anxious, as I can hardly
imagine how I could meet at present my cousin John with those feelings
I should like to entertain towards him--there is a very delightful
suite of rooms, known as the Walnut Rooms, where the head cook of
the hotel--who previously cooked for the members of that politically
misguided, but excellently appointed club, the Reform--has had the
honour of serving meals to princes of the Royal blood. As for the
company at the Grand, I should take it that it is chiefly of old
country families, or the heads of great firms in the North.

Somewhat farther down the Avenue towards the river, and on the side
opposite to the Grand, is the Victoria Hotel, and should Miss Judith
be of a lively disposition, the coming and going of well-dressed and
polite folk in this hotel would please her mightily.

Most of the road coaches--the continuance of the mode of travelling
by which does much to sustain the high perfection of that noble animal
the horse--start from the Victoria Hotel, and it is a stirring scene
at eleven in the morning to view the passengers depart. The hall is
gorgeous with brown and yellow and green marbles, and many of the
guests of the hotel sit there to watch the coming and going of the
ladies of fashion and their cavaliers. Many Americans and Australians,
liking the brightness of the place, give it their custom.

The long line of drawing-rooms is on the ground floor, and is profusely
decorated with that tint known as old gold. But if Miss Judith is an
amateur of music, the dining-room will please her most, for here, in
a great and really splendid apartment, which has pillars of white and
gold with fine foundations of brass, a band of stringed instruments
plays most excellent music during the dinner, and many people of
distinction come here--as indeed also to the other two hotels--from
great distances in London to partake of the dinner of the _table
d'hôte_. There is a very cosy little sanctum for serious conversation
on the first landing of the great staircase, and the private
sitting-rooms on the first floor, decorated in a variety of styles, are
very comfortable.

The Métropole Hotel, which is built in the form of a triangle, one of
the points of the angle touching the Thames Embankment, is the largest
of the three hotels, accommodating as many as 800 guests. It is an
hotel the solid comfort of which attracts many of those fortunate
people who have acquired large sums of money in business; and indeed
it is no rare news to be told of some family who have made this hotel
their home for years. The especially delightful nooks and corners,
filled by lounges, with which this hotel abounds, have always pleased
me much; and there is, on the ground-floor, a drawing-room with a most
dignified decoration of painted silk panels, a very noble room, with a
fine view over the Thames, where ladies who are pleased to do so make
their own dishes of tea.

The great dining-room may be thought by some to be a whit gloomy; but
the saloon, in which the dinners are served, to use a French term,
_à la carte_, is a bright and withal handsome apartment, panelled to
the ceiling with oak, and with tapestry spread on the walls. I fear
that you do not approve of the game of billiards; but there is a very
delightful room for the pursuit of that game in this hotel, and an
ante-room of much comfort, from whence ladies watch the strokes and
cannons. The private rooms are most excellently appointed.

After your strictures as to excessive addiction to writing of, and
partaking of, rich and delicate food--strictures prompted, I fear, by
my cousin John--I feel some diffidence in writing of the dinners served
at these hotels. Yet I must say that from experience I have found that
at all three hotels the tables are well served; the dinner of the
_table d'hôte_ being in each case five shillings in price.

For an instance, at the Grand Hotel on the day of my inquiry, among
other delicacies, whitebait, and the curry of Madras, pheasants, and
the toothsome pigeon were served; while at the Métropole _dominos de
foie gras_ would have tempted your appetite, and you would have ended
a capital dinner with partridges and various sweets. This is how you
would have fared at the Hotel Victoria:--


                     Canapés de caviar Moscovite.
                  Consommé Marquise. Crème Chantilly.
                            Sole Montreuil.
                       Blanchailles à la Diable.
                     Zéphires de faisan Princesse.
                         Tournedos Ventadour.
                       Selle de mouton au laver.
                         Dindonneau Baltimore.
                   Haricots verts sautés au beurre.
                           Pommes fondantes.
                  Pluviers dorés bardés sur croûtes.
                          Salades panachées.
                              Mince pies.
               Biscuits glacés vanille. Langue de chat.
                               Dessert.


I need scarcely say, my dear aunt, how pleased I shall be to be of any
service to you and my cousin Judith during your stay in the Metropolis,
and remain, your very dutiful and obliged NEPHEW.

 30_th December_.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

THE QUEEN'S GUARD (ST. JAMES'S PALACE)


"The best dinner in London, sir!" was what our fathers always added
when, with a touch of gratification, they used to tell of having been
asked to dine on the Queen's Guard at St. James's; and nowadays, when
the art of dinner-giving has come to be very generally understood, the
man who likes good cooking and good company still feels very pleased
to be asked to dinner by one of the officers of the guard, for the
old renown is still justified, and there is a fascination in the
surroundings that is not to be obtained by unlimited money spent in any
restaurant.

Past the illuminated clock of the Palace, the hands of which mark
five minutes to eight, in through an arched gate, across one of the
courts, and in a narrow passage where a window gives a glimpse of
long rows of burnished pots and pans, is a black-painted door with,
on the door-jamb, a legend of black on white telling that this is the
officers' guard.

Up some wooden stairs with leaden edges to them, stairs built for
use and not for ornament; and, the guests' coats being taken by a
clean-shaved butler in evening clothes, we are at once in the officers'
room.

It is a long room, lighted on one side by a great bow-window, flanked
by two other windows. At the farthest end of the room from the door is
a mantel of grey and white marble. The walls are painted a comfortable
green colour, and there are warm crimson curtains to the windows. There
are many pictures upon the walls; and a large sofa, leather-covered
armchairs, and a writing-table in the bow of the window give an air
of comfort to the room. A great screen, which, in its way, is a work
of art, being covered with cuttings of all periods, from Rowlandson's
caricatures to the modern style of military prints, is drawn out
from the wall so as to divide the room into two portions. On the
door side of the screen stands in one corner the regimental colour
of the battalion finding the guard, and here, too, are the bearskin
head-dresses of the officers.

On the fireplace side of the screen is a table ready set for dinner,
the clear glass decanters at the corners being filled with champagne,
a silver-gilt vase forming the centre-piece, and candles in silver
candelabra giving the necessary light. By the fireplace the officers of
the guard, in scarlet and gold and black, are waiting to receive their
guests.

In addition to the officers of the St. James's guard, the adjutant and
colonel of the battalion that finds the guard, the two officers of
the Household cavalry on guard at the Horse Guards, and some of the
military officials of the Court have a right to dine. But it is rarely
that all entitled to this privilege avail themselves of it, and the
captain and officers of the guard generally are able to ask some guests.

As, on the stroke of eight, on the evening I am writing of, we sat down
to dinner my host told me that he had ordered a typical meal for me.
This was the menu:--


                         Potage croûte au pot.
                        Eperlans à l'Anglaise.
                         Bouchées à la moëlle.
                Côtelettes de mouton. Purée de marrons.
                         Poularde à la Turque.
                    Hure truffée. Sauce Cumberland.
                            Pluviers dorés.
                         Pommes de terre Anna.
                         Champignons grillés.
                          Omelette soufflée.
                         Huîtres à la Diable.


The hand of M. Gautier, the messman, was to be recognised throughout;
and the spatchcocked smelts, the boar's head, with its sharp-tasting
sauce, and the _soufflée_, I recognised as being favourite dishes on
the Queen's Guard.

On this evening the wearers of the black coats, as well as the red,
had served Her Majesty, at one time or another, in various parts
of the world, and our talk drifted to the subject of the various
officers' guards all over the British world. In hospitality the Castle
Guard at Dublin probably comes next to the guard at St. James's, for
the officers of the guard fare excellently there at the Viceregal
expense. The Bank guards, both in the City and at College Green, have
compensating advantages, and the officer's guard at Fort William,
Calcutta, has helped many an impoverished subaltern to buy a polo pony.
The story goes that some rich native falling ill close to the gate of
Fort William, the subaltern on guard took him up to the guard-room
and treated him kindly, and in consequence, in his will, the native
left provision for a daily sum of rupees to be given to the subaltern
on guard. These rupees are paid every day minus one, retained by the
_babus_ as a charge for "stationery," and though all the little tin
gods both at Calcutta and Simla have exerted themselves to recover for
the subaltern that rupee, the power of the _babu_ has been too strong,
and the stationery item still represents the missing rupee. We chatted
of the Malta guard, with its collection of pictures on the wall; of
dreary hours at Gibraltar, with nothing to do except to construct
sugar-covered fougasses to blow up flies; and of exciting moments at
Peshawar, when the chance of being shot by one's own sentries made
going the rounds a real affair of outposts.

Then I asked questions about the gilt centre-piece, which is in the
shape of an Egyptian vase with sphinxes on the base, and was told
that the holding capacities of it were beyond the guessing of any one
who had not seen the experiment tried. Some of the other plate which
is put upon the table at the close of dinner is of great interest.
There is a cigar-lighter in the shape of a grenade given by His Royal
Highness the Prince of Wales, a silver cigar-cutter, a memento of an
inter-regimental friendship made at manœuvres, and a snuff-box made
from one of the hoofs of Napoleon's charger Marengo. Which hoof it
was is not stated on the box, but the collective wisdom of the table
decided that it must have been the near hind one. Excepting on days
when the Scots Guards are on guard, Her Majesty's health is not, I
believe, drunk after dinner--though I fancy that H.R.H. the Prince
of Wales, dining on guard, broke through this custom. The regiment
from across the Border was at one time suspected of a leaning towards
Jacobitism, and while the officers were ordered to drink His Majesty's
health they were not allowed to use finger-glasses after dinner, lest
they should drink to the King over the water.

Dinner over, the big sofa is pulled round in front of the fire, and
a whist-table and a game of drawing-room cricket each claims its
devotees. I asked my host to be allowed to inspect the pictures which
pretty well cover the walls. The most important is an excellent
portrait of Her Majesty in the early part of her reign. It is the work
of "Lieut.-Col. Cadogan," and was begun on the wall of a guard-room--at
Windsor, I fancy. The surface of the wall was cut off, the picture
finished, and it now hangs, a fine work of art but a tremendous weight,
in the place of honour. There is an admirable oil-colour of the old
Duke of Wellington, showing a kindly old face looking down, a pleasant
difference from the alert aquiline profile which most of his portraits
show. There are prints of other celebrated generals, mostly Guardsmen,
and an amusing caricature of three kings dining on guard. It is a very
unfurnished guard-room, with a bare floor, in which their Majesties
are being entertained, but the enthusiasm with which the officers are
drinking their health makes up for the surroundings. A key to the print
hangs hard by, but the names attached to the various figures are said
to have been written in joke. Many of the pictures are sporting prints
and hunting caricatures; but the original of _Vanity Fair's_ sketch of
Dan Godfrey is in one corner; and a strange old picture of a battle,
painted on a tea-tray, hangs over the door.

On either side of the looking-glass, above the mantelpiece, are the
list of officers on duties and the orders for the guard, the latter
with a glass over them, which is supposed to have been cracked in
Marlborough's time. Some very admirably arranged caricatures, with
explanatory notes, are bound into a series of red volumes and kept in a
glazed set of shelves, and these, with a number of blue-bound volumes
of the _Pall Mall Magazine_, form all the library available for the
officers on guard.

As the hands of the clock near eleven, the butler, who has been handing
round "pegs" in long tumblers, takes up his position by the door.
Military discipline is inexorable, and we (the guests) know that we
must be out of the precincts of the guard by eleven o'clock. We say
good-night to our hosts, and as we go downstairs we hear the clank of
swords being buckled on.

Outside in the courtyard a sergeant and a drummer and a man with a
lantern are waiting for the officer to go the rounds.

 3_rd January_.



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE COBURG (CARLOS PLACE)


There were some portions of my aunt Tabitha's letter from the North
which were distinctly satisfactory. She was kind enough to say that
both she and my cousin Judith, the most delightfully demure little lady
possible, had enjoyed their short stay in London, and had appreciated
the oratorio, the museums, and the picture galleries I had escorted
them to. She animadverted on the strange conduct of my cousin John,
who went to call on the old lady after being up all night at a Covent
Garden ball, where I detected him clothed as a monk, with a false
nose and spectacles. She sent me half a dozen works of the fiercest
fire-and-brimstone type, asking me to forward them to him--which I
shall be delighted to do, and also sent a bundle of miscellaneous
tracts for the servants of the Northumberland Avenue Hotel, at
which hostel she stayed, and some specially selected ones for some
of the guests staying at the hotel--these, I fear, may be mislaid.
The principal item of news in her letter, however, was that Simon
Treadwell, her solicitor, was coming to London on business for her,
and that she wished him to consult me as to certain investments she
intended to make.

There was a decidedly comforting sound in this, and I was only too
ready to do all honour to Mr. Treadwell. I had memories of him as a
very grave gentleman, clean-shaved, with a wealth of long white hair,
and with gold-rimmed pince-nez attached to a broad black ribbon. He
came of Quaker stock, and though I wished to entertain him, for it is
so much easier to talk business over the dinner-table than anywhere
else, I felt perplexed as to where to ask him to dine with me. The
bustle and the music of the fashionable restaurants would not be in
keeping with the staidness of this grave old gentleman.

The Coburg occurred to me. The name in itself commands respect, and
there is dignity in the appearance of the red brick Elizabethan
building that shows a curved front to Carlos Place. From previous
experience I knew that I might expect good cooking, and that we should
dine with unhurried calm in the panelled dining-room. So in writing to
my aunt Tabitha to say that I should be delighted to meet Mr. Treadwell
again, I suggested that he should dine with me at the Coburg, and named
the date and time.

Mr. Simon Treadwell, my aunt wrote, would be delighted to dine on the
date named. Thinking of our after-dinner entertainment, I looked out
in my morning paper the most classical concert I could find advertised
for that date, and took tickets for it. Then I went to the Coburg,
and in consultation with the manager ordered a dinner which I thought
should suit my guest, accepting the item of _petite marmite_ with
resignation:--


                                Caviar.
                            Petite marmite.
                       Filets de soles Waleska.
                          Tournedos Niçoise.
                             Pommes Anna.
                        Perdreau Périgourdine.
                           Salade Victoria.
                          Bombe Patricienne.
                              Friandises.


On the appointed evening I waited in the lounge which leads off
from the entrance-hall, rather wondering as to whether my stock of
conversation would last out a dinner with the very grave person I
had to entertain. The lounge is a very comfortable room, painted
oak-colour, with warm red curtains and a warm red carpet. From it one
looks through a white arch into the white panelled hall, with its dead
gold roof and the oak staircase, which, through its white arch, with a
plentiful supply of palms to break the straight lines, would appeal to
any artist's eye.

I heard my name spoken in the hall, and went out to receive my
venerable guest. I was astonished, however, to find a young gentleman,
black of hair, clean-shaven, with an eyeglass, and in the most modern
cut of dress clothes. I am afraid that my face showed my astonishment,
for my guest said, "I am Mr. Simon Treadwell, junior. Did you expect to
see my father?"

I wondered how the classical concert would suit my new acquaintance,
as I piloted him down the white-panelled passage, where a little
fountain in a recess lets fall a tinkling stream of water, and into
the dining-room. We were quiet, as I expected to be. The room, with
its panelling of deep red wood, with a frieze of tapestry, its
pillared overmantel, its recess curtained in, its soft red carpet, its
high-backed chairs of dark-green leather with a golden C on them, its
clusters of electric globes filling the room with a soft, luminous
glow, is all in keeping with a certain sensation of stateliness, and
the perfect silence of the service, a very good point, adds to this
feeling.

The diners at the other tables were, I should say, all guests staying
at the hotel. I had not the curiosity to ask who they were, but I
should have expected to be told that their names were all to be found
in "Debrett."

Mr. Treadwell was taking stock of me, as I was doing of him, and when
the _caviar_ in its bowl of ice and the _petite marmite_, strong
and hot, had been served, he told me of the very simple business as
to which he had been instructed to ask my advice, and that matter
satisfactorily disposed of, we, with the _sole Waleska_, which, with
its accompanying slices of truffle, is always a favourite dish of mine,
fell on to general subjects, and I tentatively asked Mr. Treadwell
whether he had a taste for classical music.

"Not so much for classical music as for a good song," said Mr.
Treadwell, urbanely; and after a short pause he mentioned that he had
heard that Arthur Roberts was very amusing. I mentally tore up the
tickets for the classical concert.

With the _tournedos_ Mr. Treadwell told me that he had wired down to
the Palace for two seats for the next night in order to hear Marie
Lloyd's new songs, and asked my advice as to where he had better dine
_à deux_, and whether Romano's, or Princes', or the Savoy was the most
_chic_ place to take a lady to supper at. I filled up Mr. Treadwell's
glass from the nicely chilled bottle of Perrier-Jouët, and he almost
winked at me as he told me of my cousin John's delinquencies: how,
after he, John, had hypocritically warned my aunt Tabitha that I took
a delight in theatrical performances and attempted to raise the ready
smile in journalism, he had been so indiscreet as to appear before my
aunt on an occasion when he had evidently come home with the milk. Mr.
Treadwell went so far as to call him a "garden jackass"; and, my heart
warming to the young solicitor, I told him of the Covent Garden ball
and how I had discovered my cousin there, and of the tracts that had
been sent to me by my aunt to give him.

With the partridge, excellently cooked, I gave Mr. Treadwell my
opinions as to the merits of the various pantomimes, and asked him to
lunch with me next day, and to go and see a matinée at a music-hall.
After the ice came coffee and old brandy, and Mr. Treadwell said that
he would like to smoke a cigar.

The other diners had all finished their dinners, and we were the only
occupiers of the big room, in luxurious quiet. Mr. Treadwell lay back
in his chair and pulled at his cigar with the air of a man enjoying
life.

I paid my bill: two dinners, £1: 1s.; one bottle '83, 15s.; two
coffees, 1s.; two fine champagne, 3s.; cigar, 6d.; total, £2: O: 6.
This done, I asked Mr. Treadwell where he would like to go and finish
the evening; and he, waking from a day-dream, said, "Anywhere where
they have a ballet."

"Heads the Empire, tails the Alhambra," I said as I tossed the coin,
and it fell heads.

I wish I had not been so hasty in buying those classical concert
tickets.

 10_th January_.



CHAPTER XL

THE MIDLAND HOTEL (ST. PANCRAS)


The dramatic moment of the evening came when Juliette, the new French
maid, with despair painted on her face, out of breath, and with her
bonnet on one side of her head, came running into the dining-room at
the Midland Hotel, and told Miss Dainty that the dog had escaped. Miss
Dainty for one moment was overwhelmed, for she pictured Jack in fierce
combat with every big dog in London; but, recovering herself, said that
she wanted boy messengers. The wild duck was getting cold, the manager
was beginning to look unhappy, the waiter was sympathetic but helpless,
the French maid was weeping. If messenger boys could straighten out the
difficulties Miss Dainty should have had a dozen; but she said that she
only wanted three. So three little boys stood in a row and received
their instructions. One was to go, in a cab, to Miss Dainty's flat to
see whether Jack had returned there; another, in a cab, was to go round
to all the places that Jack had been taken to during the day, chiefly
milliners' and dress-makers' and bonnet-makers' shops, to see whether
he had wandered away to any of those localities; the third was, in a
cab, to go to all the places where Jack had special canine enemies to
see whether he had gone to fight a parting fight with any of them. The
three small boys were sent on their way, the weeping maid dismissed to
mount guard over the pile of baggage, and then I told the manager to
serve us our duck and he smiled again, while the waiter allowed the
look of sympathy to die out in his face and woke to sudden activity.

Miss Dainty was going out to America to play what she called "a
thinking part," with an English company on tour there. She was to have
gone to Liverpool by a morning train, and a little crowd, male and
female, assembled to see her off, to give her the customary bouquets,
and to wish her the customary good voyage. But no Miss Dainty arrived.
In her place appeared an agitated French maid, who explained that
her mistress could not possibly go by this train, because one of her
new hats had not been sent home. The lady section of the crowd was
sympathetic, the male section gave their bouquets to the maid to take
back to Miss Dainty, and we all went our separate ways.

In the afternoon I got this telegram: "Alone in London and starving.
Going night train. Will you give me dinner?--DAINTY." I was of course
delighted to give the little lady dinner; telegraphed to her that I
would meet her at the station and give her dinner at the Midland Grand
Hotel, and sent a note to the manager of the French restaurant at the
hotel asking him to keep a table for me, and to order a small dinner
for two.

A cab with a pile of boxes on the top brought Miss Dainty with her
bouquets, and her maid, and Jack, the fighting dog, to the station.

"Are you going to take the dog?" I asked; and Miss Dainty said,
"Certainly. I am going to take him to bite the Custom-house officers
if they interfere with my sealskin cloak." Of course, such a reason as
this was unanswerable.

The maid and the baggage and the dog were left on the platform, the
former being given strict injunctions to keep a watchful eye on the two
latter, and I took Miss Dainty off to the hotel.

Through the long curving corridor, with its brightly-painted walls
and blaze of electric light, we went to the lift, and were quickly
deposited on the first floor, where the restaurant is.

As a rule one does not expect to get a good dinner at a railway hotel;
but I knew that the Midland was one of the exceptions which prove the
rule, and that I had not done wrong in asking Miss Dainty to dine with
me there. The room, a fine large saloon, has a comfortable red paper
with handsomely framed mirrors to break the monotony of its surface,
and what painting there is on pillars and cornice has something of an
Egyptian brilliancy of colour. At one end a semicircular screen of
curtains shuts off the serving-room. At the other end great doors lead
into a drawing-room. The chairs, of red velvet, have a comfortable
look. The lights on the tables are electric globes with yellow shades.

This was the dinner that the manager had ordered for us. When I saw
_petite marmite_ on the menu I groaned. I am beginning to believe that
it is a sort of fetish that restaurant managers worship:--


                               Natives.
                            Petite marmite.
                           Sole Portugaise.
                            Filet Rossini.
                            Pomme soufflée.
                      Canard sauvage à la presse.
                           Salade de laitue.
                          Pouding à la reine.
                            Bombe Midland.
                             Petits fours.
                                Fruits.


With the soup, which was strong and hot, Miss Dainty told me how she
had boarded out her pets for the time of her absence, and it seemed
to me that the gold-fish, the parrot, the cat, and the love-birds
had, with Miss Dainty's usual perverseness, been sent to people who
would loathe the sight of them. Jack was to go with his mistress to
protect her from all perils in an unknown land and to bite Custom-house
officers.

When the sole and its rubicund surrounding of tomatoes appeared, I
inquired whether Miss Dainty contemplated matrimony during her travels,
and was politely snubbed by being told that that was a matter in which
she would not think of moving without first asking my consent.

As Miss Dainty toyed with the truffles of the excellently-cooked
fillet, she informed me that America is a country which understands
and admires art, and I gathered that she looks forward to returning
to England as a second Bernhardt or Duse, and that the bags of dollars
which, with their hands and hearts, endless swains are sure to offer
her, are but a secondary consideration.

Then came the wild duck; and as the manager was squeezing the rich
brown fluid from the silver press the frightened maid came bustling
into the room, and we heard the awful news that Jack was lost.

By the time that Miss Dainty had sent off her little army of
boy-messengers and had ordered the maid back to her post on baggage
guard, our table was the centre of attraction to the room. The old
Anglo-Indian colonel, whose pretty daughter was sitting opposite
to him, the family party of mother and son and daughter, the young
honeymoon couple, the half a dozen old gentlemen dining in solitary
state, all were taking an interest in the hunt for Jack. "I shall not
leave London until Jack is found," said Miss Dainty, as her slice
of the duck's breast was put in front of her. "But your boat starts
to-morrow," I protested. "The boat must wait," said Miss Dainty
decisively. "I don't go without Jack."

We ate our pudding in silence. "I expect the poor dear is fighting half
a dozen dogs now," was the only remark that Miss Dainty made with the
ice.

I called for my bill: Two dinners, 12s.; one bottle 343, 15s.; two cups
of coffee, 1s.; total £1: 8s.

"I am going now," said Miss Dainty, as she drew on her gloves, "to
send Juliette and the boxes back to the flat, and then you shall drive
me round to all the police-stations in London to see if Jack is at any
of them."

As we walked down the long corridor I was thinking of the pleasant
evening I was going to spend, when there was a patter of little feet
behind us, and the next moment Miss Dainty was hugging Jack, an
unrepentant, muzzleless dog, with a great cut over one eye, and an ear
bitten through.

When the train containing Miss Dainty and the bouquets and the boxes
and the maid and the dog steamed out of the station I sighed a great
sigh, which had something of relief in it.

 17_th January_.



CHAPTER XLI

KETTNER'S (CHURCH STREET)


"I have no amusement at all now," said little Mrs. Tota--we always
called her Mrs. Tota up at Simla, for she was as bright and perky as
her little namesake, the Indian parrot. "George says that the night air
brings on his fever, and refuses to go out after dinner."

George looked up from behind his paper and grunted; but there was a
quiver of his left eyelid which looked very like a wink.

"I never go to a dance now, and you know I _love_ dancing. I never
have any fun like we used to have at the Black Hearts' masked balls at
Simla; the only _kala jugga_ I ever go into is the coalhole. I never
eat a nice little dinner like you used to give us at the Chalet. I
never do anything, or see anything, and all because George thinks he
might suffer from imaginary fever."

George from behind the paper moaned a mocking moan. "If George wouldn't
mind," I said, "I should be delighted to take you out some evening,
give you a little dinner, take you to a box at some theatre, and to a
Covent Garden masked ball afterwards."

"Mind!" said George, reappearing from his paper with great suddenness.
"_Mind!_ Why, my dear fellow, if you will only be so kind as to do that
I shall not be abused for a week. Take her out, and give her dinner and
supper, a box at a theatre and a dance, and my blessing shall be with
you all the days of my life."

Mrs. Tota clapped her hands. "George, for once in your life, you're
nice," she said.

"We'll have a regular Simla evening," I suggested. "The nearest thing I
can think of to the dining-room in the little U.S. Club chalet would be
a private room at one of the restaurants."

Mrs. Tota looked to George for approval, and then nodded in
acquiescence.

"The Savoy private rooms would be too big for our little party of two.
Romano's has some charming Japanese private dining-rooms. There is
the turret-room at Scott's, which looks down on to Piccadilly and the
Haymarket. There are two sweet little corner rooms at the Trocadero,
the bow windows of which command Shaftesbury Avenue. There are----"

"You seem to know a good deal about the private rooms of all the
restaurants," said Mrs. Tota.

"I have an elderly relative who dislikes noise, so when I take him out
to dine----"

"Oh, _him!_" interrupted Mrs. Tota. "Go on with your list."

"There are some very handsome little rooms at the Café Royal, and
Kettner's, and a lot more."

"What's Kettner's, anyway?" queried Mrs. Tota; and I told her of the
snug little restaurant buried away in Church Street, which was first
discovered by two well-known journalists, a restaurant of comfortable
nooks and corners, a restaurant of such individuality that when it was
necessary to rebuild it a few years ago it was rebuilt as nearly as
possible on the old lines, with its three or four public dining-rooms
below, and its network of passages and warren of little rooms above.
I told her of Louis, now in supreme charge, who has been part of
Kettner's since Kettner's first became known to London; and of Henri,
who has charge of the upstairs dining-rooms, and who, with his peaked
beard and clean-shaven upper lip, is the type of _maître d'hôtel_ that
all the French artists who record the life of the boulevards love to
draw.

Mrs. Tota said that it sounded nice. She liked the name; Kettner's
sounded a little unusual, and she liked the description of the
old-fashioned place.

Then I summed up: "You will very kindly pick me up at the club; we will
dine at Kettner's, then go across the way to the Palace Theatre, where
I will have a box; after that back to Kettner's to put on your domino,
which we will leave there; and then on to the Covent Garden ball, where
we will sup in our box and stay until after the procession."

Mrs. Tota declared that I was a dear, and George grunted a few words of
genuine thankfulness.

I went down to Kettner's and interviewed Henri. The nicest possible
little dining-room and a very simple little dinner were what I wanted.

Henri put his head on one side, like a wise magpie, and suggested
oysters as _hors-d'œuvre_. I said that the idea was novel, but that
I preferred caviar. Then Henri relapsed into deep thought. _Petite
marmite_ was his next suggestion, and on this I turned on him and
rent him, figuratively, for every _maître d'hôtel_ in the world
seems to think that _petite marmite_ or _croûte au pot_ is the only
possible beginning to a small plain dinner. Friendly relations were
re-established, and this was our final effort so far as the menu was
concerned--


                                Caviar.
                        Consommé à la Colbert.
                    Filets de sole à la Joinville.
                    Langue de bœuf aux champignons.
                        Epinards. Pommes Anna.
                        Poulet à la Parmentier.
                                Salade.
                      Asperges. Sauce mousseline.
                           Biscuits glacées.
                               Dessert.


and a bottle of Moët '89, just chilled, to drink with it.

Room A was the dining-room that Henri thought would suit us. So A was
the room selected.

Mrs. Tota, in a very charming black dress with a pattern of tiny steel
sequins on it, with a gorgeous ermine cloak and a mysterious bundle
that I knew must contain the domino, picked me up at the club and
drove me down to Church Street. She was delighted at the appearance
of the cosy little houses and the narrow entrance. Before we went to
our dining-room above I asked Louis to take us through the kitchen,
which, with its walls of white tiles and perfect cleanliness, is well
worth seeing, and we peeped into all the public dining-rooms on the
ground-floor.

"Isn't this quite wrong?" said little Mrs. Tota, who was evidently
enjoying herself. "Oughtn't we to have slipped up the stairs like a
couple of guilty things? Do you take your elderly relative round the
kitchen?"

At that moment Henri appeared and said that our dinner was ready, and
we went up the narrow stairs.

A little room, with a paper in which old gold and soft browns and
green mingled, three windows with warm-coloured curtains to match the
paper, bronze ornaments on the mantelpiece, oil paintings of Italian
scenery on the walls, a tiny sideboard, a square table lighted by gilt
candelabra holding electric lights--Room A is a very snug place to dine
in.

"H'm, yes," said Mrs. Tota. "Not quite like the room in the dear old
Chalet; but quite near enough."

Henri had taken us under his special protection, and had added half
a dozen _hors-d'œuvre_ to the menu besides the caviar, and when the
time came for our slices of tongue he appeared bearing a whole tongue
lavishly garnished.

It was a capital dinner, well cooked throughout, and as Mrs. Tota
praised each dish Henri beamed more and more upon us. And Mrs. Tota
chattered like her namesake. We talked about the famous masked ball
at Simla, at which Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, disguised in mask and
domino, went up to a humorous Irish lady, and, in a feigned voice,
asked her for a dance, receiving a reply that she "hadn't time to be
dancing with boys to-night." We talked of gymkhanas at Annandale, and
picnics at Mashobra, of A.D.C. theatricals and town-hall balls, and we
effectually brought the scent of the deodars into Soho.

Mrs. Tota finished her coffee and Curaçoa Marnier, and sighed as she
drew on her gloves. "Those were good days," she said, and I nodded
assent.

I told Henri to bring me the bill. Two dinners, £1: 1s.; one Moët,
15s.; two cafés, 1s.; two liqueurs, 2s.; total, £1: 19s.

"Henri," I said, "you have let me off too lightly. It should be more
than this"; whereat Henri went through an expressive pantomime which
meant that to undercharge me was the last thing the management would
think of doing.

We left the domino in Henri's charge, and Mrs. Tota thought she would
walk the few yards to the Palace. "If all dinners in private rooms
are as pleasant as that, I rather think that I envy your elderly male
relative," said Mrs. Tota as we emerged into Church Street.

 24_th January_.



CHAPTER XLII

PAGANI'S (GREAT PORTLAND STREET)


"If you will dine with me on Sunday night I will give you dinner in the
most interesting private dining-room that any restaurant in London can
show," I said to little Mrs. Tota.

"She'll do nothing of the sort," said George, her husband, from behind
his paper.

"George!" said little Mrs. Tota, and there was a mixture of
astonishment, query, and reproof in the way she spoke her husband's
name.

George laid down his newspaper. "Since you took her to dine in that
private room at Kettner's nothing has been good enough for her. She
would like a _maître d'hôtel_ and a head waiter dancing round her at
every meal, and she can't go out of the front door without looking
round to see if there is a manager there to bow her out."

"You are perfectly horrid, George," said little Mrs. Tota with some
asperity. "You won't take me out yourself, and when other people are
kind enough to offer to do so you are as cross and sarcastic as you can
be."

George looked at me with the corners of his mouth drawn up by a
suppressed smile, and his left eyebrow twitched as if he felt inclined
to wink. I poured oil on the troubled waters. If Mrs. Tota, with her
husband's permission, would dine with me at Pagani's on Sunday we would
dine in the public dining-room on the first floor, and look afterwards
at the drawings and signatures in the celebrated little room on the
second floor.

"It is real good of you to take the wife out," said George, as he saw
me off the premises. "I hate going out at night, as you know, but she
enjoys it all thoroughly. She chattered about that last dinner for a
good month."

On the Saturday I went to Pagani's, secured a table for the next
evening in the room on the first floor, a very pretty dining-room with
soft blue curtains to the windows, a blue paper on the walls, shaded
electric lights, and a little bow-window at the back, which makes the
snuggest of nooks. Then M. Giuseppe Pagani, one of the two proprietors,
having appeared, we talked over the important matter of the menu. The
difficulty that vexed our minds was whether _filets de sole Pagani_ or
_turbot à la Pellegrini_ would best suit a lady's appetite. Finally the
sole won the day. I hesitated a moment over the _Bortsch_ soup, for it
has become almost as much a standing dish as _croûte au pot_ in most
restaurants; but _Bortsch_ is the customary Sunday soup at Pagani's, so
it had to be included in the menu.

This was our list completed:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                            Potage Bortsch.
                        Filets de sole Pagani.
                        Tournedos aux truffes.
               Haricots verts sautés. Pommes croquettes.
                       Perdreau Voisin. Salade.
                          Soufflé au curaçoa.


At eight o'clock on Sunday I was waiting for Mrs. Tota in the arched
entrance which is one of the distinctive features of the modern
Pagani's. Glazed grey tiles front the whole of the ground floor, the
rest of the building being red brick, and the deep entrance arches are
supported by squat little blue pillars. The curve of the arches are
set with rows of electric light, which give the little restaurant the
appearance of having been illuminated for a fête every night.

"Now mind, I want to see everything, and be told who everybody is,"
said Mrs. Tota as she got out of the cab, and I promised to do my best
to carry out her wishes, and suggested that we should peep into the
room on the ground floor before we went upstairs.

The long room, with its golden paper, its mirrors painted with flowers
and trellis-work, its little counter piled with fruit, was crowded with
diners, not one of the many little tables being vacant. A great hum of
talk fell on our ears, and many of the gentlemen at the tables were
gesticulating as only foreigners can. I told Mrs. Tota that at least
half the guests were musicians or singers, and immediately she was all
attention. One gentleman, with long hair and a close-clipped beard,
she recognised as a well-known violinist; and a gentleman with a black
moustache and a great bush of rebellious hair, she identified as a
celebrated baritone, though he looked strange, she thought, without a
frock-coat, lavender kid gloves, and a roll of music in his hands.

In the blue room on the first floor the tables were mostly occupied by
couples, and Mrs. Tota wished to know if this was where the married
musicians came. The gentleman with the clean-shaven face at the next
table to ours, deep in conversation with a very pretty lady in a
fur toque, was certainly a doctor, and the gentleman with a white
moustache, who had secured the table in the little bow-window, was
evidently a soldier; the two ladies dining _tête-à-tête_ did not look
musical, but on the first floor, as on the ground floor, the majority
of the guests were evidently of the artistic temperament.

The _Bortsch_ was excellent, and when the _sole Pagani_ made its
appearance M. Meschini, the partner of M. Pagani, came to our table to
ask whether the dish was approved of. "It is beautiful," said little
Mrs. Tota. "What are the wonderful little pink things with such a
delicious taste?" M. Meschini, without moving a muscle of his face,
told her that they were shrimps, which, with fresh mushrooms and
_moules_, help to give a distinctiveness to this excellent dish. "How
was I to know a shrimp without his head and tail and scales?" said Mrs.
Tota, when M. Meschini had moved on.

Mrs. Tota ate some of the _tournedos truffés_, and gave her opinion
that the truffles were perfectly heavenly; but I preferred to wait for
the partridge and its casserole, with all its savoury surroundings. M.
Notari, the chef, is an artist in his kitchen, and nowhere in London
could we have found a better-cooked bird.

To establish my claim to be critical, I said that I had tasted better
_soufflés_, but Mrs. Tota, telling me that I was a pampered Sybarite,
ate her helping with perfect content. The two pints of Veuve Clicquot
we drank were excellent, and with a Biscuit Pagani, two cups of Café
Pagani and liqueurs, we ended a very good dinner.

I paid my bill: bread and butter, 4d.; hors-d'œuvre, 6d.; soup, 1s.
6d.; fish, 2s.; joint, 2s.; game, 5s.; vegetables, 1s.; sweets, 1s.
6d.; ices, 1s.; salad, 10d.; wine, 14s.; coffee, 1s.; liqueurs, 2s.
6d.; total, £1: 13: 2, and then asked M. Meschini to take us upstairs
and show us the private dining-room, which is known as the artists'
room.

When we came to the little room with its ruby velvet curtains and
mantel drapings, its squares of what looks like brown paper, at about
the height of a man's head, covered with drawings and writings, and
protected by glass, its framed drawings and paintings, Mrs. Tota turned
to me and asked me if I often brought my invalid maiden aunt to dine
here.

"Invalid maiden aunt?" I said with astonishment, but remembered in a
second that I had mentioned some such relative (or was it an uncle?)
when we dined in the private room at Kettner's. Mrs. Tota laughed and
turned to M. Meschini, who was beginning to explain the various works
of art.

The name of Julia Neilson, written in bold characters, catches the eye
as soon as any other inscription on these sections of a wall of days
gone by; but it is well worth while to take the panels one by one, and
to go over these sections of brown plaster inch by inch. Mascagni has
written the first bars of one of the airs from "Cavalleria Rusticana,"
Denza has scribbled the opening bars of "Funiculi, Funicula," Lamoureux
has written a tiny hymn of praise to the cook, Ysaye has lamented
that he is always tied to "notes," which, with a waiter and a bill
at his elbow, might have a double meaning. Phil May has dashed some
caricatures upon the wall, a well-meant attempt on the part of a German
waiter to wash one of these out having resulted in the "sack" of the
said waiter and the glazing of the wall. Mario has drawn a picture
of a fashionable lady, and Val Prinsep and a dozen artists of like
calibre have, in pencil, or sepia, or pastel, noted brilliant trifles
on the wall. Paderewski, Pucchini, Chaminade, Calvé, Piatti, Plançon,
De Lucia, Melba, Menpes, Tosti, are some of the signatures; and as
little Mrs. Tota read the names she became as serious as if she were in
church, for this little chamber is in its way a temple dedicated to the
artistic great who have dined.

 17_th December_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I asked M. Meschini if he would be so kind as to give me the _recette_
for the _filets de sole Pagani_, and here it is just as he wrote it
down for me.


_Filets sole Pagani_

The sole is first of all filleted, and with the bones, some mussels,
and a little white wine, a _fumée de poisson_ is made in which the
fillets of the sole are then cooked.

The cook takes this _cuisson_, and by adding some well-chopped fresh
mushrooms, makes with that what he calls a _réduction_; to this he adds
some _velouté_, little cream, fresh butter, some lemon juice, pepper
and salt, and cooks the whole together till well mixed, then passes
it _à l'étamine_. With this the sauce is made. The cooked fillets of
sole and eight or ten mussels are then placed ready on a silver dish,
and the above made sauce poured over them. The top is well sprinkled
with fresh Parmesan cheese, and after allowing them to _gratiner_ for a
minute or two, are ready to be put on the customer's table.



CHAPTER XLIII

CLARIDGE'S (BROOK STREET)


The Princess was passing through town, and wrote that she would
graciously deign to dine with me.

The responsibility of giving dinner to a Princess, even though she be
not a British Princess, but the bearer of an Italian title, is no light
one. Claridge's, "the home of kings," occurred to me at once as the
right restaurant at which to entertain Her Highness, for the new and
stately hotel that has sprung up in Brook Street has a quiet grandeur
that is in keeping with its old nickname.

The Claridge's of the past was a comfortable hotel with convenient
suites, but its outside was as philistine as any doctor's house in the
street. Now the towering red-brick structure, with its granite columns,
looks like a veritable palace. The proprietor in old days was very much
in evidence. He felt the responsibility of having Royalty under his
roof, and was always waiting in the hall to make his bow. So keenly
did he appreciate his proud position that once, when an enterprising
artist took a room at Claridge's, so as to be able to observe a Royal
personage who was going to be gently caricatured in a weekly paper, he
being made aware that the crime of _lèse-majesté_ was being committed,
politely but firmly insisted on the artist taking his portmanteau and
paint-brushes elsewhere. Royalty might be caricatured, but it should
never be said that the crime was committed at Claridge's. Nowadays
Claridge's is in the hands of a company, and though, no doubt, M.
Mengay, the manager, is present to make his bow when Royalty arrives,
he would not dream of expelling an inquisitive artist; indeed, all the
caricaturists in Europe would be welcome if they had the wherewithal to
pay their bills, for Royalty in the new Claridge's is given a separate
house, and so is effectually shielded from prying eyes.

The right touch of grandeur is given in the _porte-cochère_, where the
roadway is paved with indiarubber, so that even the horses shall go
softly, and where the pavement is of marble. It takes a great number
of men--six, I think--to open the doors of Claridge's, and to show the
visitor into the hall; and as a great number of servants to do very
little is one of the characteristics of Royal residences, the home of
kings in this way asserts itself at its gates.

I went in the afternoon to order dinner and secure a table. The six men
let me in, and two higher officials were at my service to direct me
to the restaurant; but I did not need any guidance, for when the new
Claridge's was opened I had wandered at will through all the rooms,
had admired the great stone fireplace in the smoking-room, had passed
through the many suites on the higher floors; Louis Quinze suites,
Louis Seize suites, Empire suites, Sheraton and Adams suites, and had
peeped into the Royal suite with its blue and green and crimson rooms,
and mahogany furniture.

In the restaurant I found an old acquaintance in the shape of M.
Deminger, the _maître d'hôtel_. All the small side-tables for the
evening were taken, he said; but a table for four should be converted
into a table for two in order that I might be accommodated. The dinner
I left to M. Nignon, the _chef de cuisine_, whose handiwork I knew well
when he was at Paillard's, and M. Nobile, the manager, asking only that
the dinner should be short, and saying that though I wanted a good
dinner I did not, as I am not a crowned head or a very wealthy man,
want an inordinately expensive one.

At eight punctually the Princess arrived, and was received with
ceremony by the six at the doors. She was wearing her sable cloak,
which always seems to me to be longer and handsomer than the furs worn
by other women, and a dress of delicate black lace over some soft white
material. The pearls and diamonds that are one of the heirlooms of her
husband's family, were round her throat, and there was a sparkle of
diamonds amidst the lace of her dress.

The restaurant at Claridge's is a dignified room. The windows are
draped with deep red curtains and purple portières; the carpet carries
on the scheme of quiet reds, and the chairs have morocco backs of
vermilion, with the arms of the hotel stamped on them in gold. The
white plaster ceiling is supported by great arches, the bases of which
and the walls of which are panelled with darkish oak, into which
patterns in olive wood are set. The quiet-footed waiters in evening
clothes, with the arms of the hotel as a badge on the lapels of their
coats, are in keeping with the room. It is a restaurant that is
essentially quiet, a restaurant where hurry on the part of the diners
would be out of place, a restaurant where good digestion should be
inseparable from appetite. The music of the band under Meyer van Praag
lends itself to the benevolent atmosphere of the place. It is soft
enough and far away enough not to interfere with conversation. One of
the lessons that most restaurant managers refuse to learn is that an
aggressive band spoils a good dinner.

This was the menu that M. Rouget, the second _maître d'hôtel_, laid
down by my plate as we took our seats:--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                           Crème Princesse.
                            Sole d'Aumale.
                    Poulet de grain à la Carifnon.
                 Délice de jambon frappé au champagne.
                       Bécassine flambée Empire.
                           Salade d'endive.
                   Asperges Anglaises à la d'Yvette.
                            Bombe Claridge.
                             Petits fours.


While I was reading this through with appreciation the Princess was
looking round the room and at the people dining. The wide spaces left
between the tables met with her thorough approval, for the fact that
one's neighbours hear every word that one says at many of the London
restaurants is not an incentive to conversation. A lady in white at the
next table to ours also met with approval, and the Princess, serenely
secure in the consciousness of being perfectly dressed, could afford
to praise another woman's gown. Four men dining together at the tables
drew from the Princess what sounded to me like a long extract from
"Debrett," and I added an item of information as to the owner of a
handsome face that was to be seen at one time on the stage, and which
marriage withdrew from the gaze of the public.

While we trifled with the _hors-d'œuvre_ the manager came to our
table, and in the course of conversation told us that the Portuguese
Ambassador had entertained H.R.H. the Prince of Wales in one of the
private dining-rooms the evening before. I felt inclined to say that
I, too, entertained the great ones of the earth at Claridge's, but I
reflected that humility was becoming in me, even though a Princess had
been kind enough to dine with me.

The thick soup was good; but in no way remarkable. I do not care for
thick soups, and the Princess only took a few spoonfuls from her plate.
The sole, with its oysters and truffles, was very well cooked, and so
was the chicken, with its savoury stuffing of macaroni and truffles.
The _délice de jambon_ was a triumph, light and dainty, with a delicate
blending of flavours, a dish which marked the man who made it as an
artist in his calling. The _bécassine_ was a toothsome mouthful, the
asparagus was good, and the _bombe Claridge_ was as admirable in its
way as the _délice_ had been. An excellent dinner, as a whole, with two
dishes that were supreme works of culinary art. We drank the wine of
the good widow Clicquot.

I paid my bill. Two couverts, 2s.; hors-d'œuvre, 2s.; crème Princesse,
4s.; sole, 4s. 6d.; poulet de grain, 12s.; mousse jambon, 4s. 6d.;
bécassine, 10s.; salade, 1s. 6d.; asperges, 8s.; bombe, 3s.; café, 2s.;
liqueurs, 3s. 6d.; wines, 15s.; total, £3: 12s.

Dinner over, we sat in the comfortable reading-room, where the chairs
of blue silk striped velvet match the cerulean tint of the walls, until
the brougham was announced, and the Princess was duly ushered out by
the faithful six.

 24_th December_.

       *       *       *       *       *

M. Nignon, the chef of Claridge's, was in days past the chef at
Paillard's in Paris, the best-known perhaps of all the restaurants
there. He has brought with him to Claridge's many specialities in
cooking. This is a list of the dishes which he has given me as
specialities of the Claridge's cuisine.


_Potages_

Bortsch à la Russe--Consommé Madrileine--Consommé à la Parme--Consommé
Czarmina--Consommé veloutine à l'Impérial--Crème Comtesse--Crème
Waleska--Crème de chapon Virien--Crème ambassadrice.


_Poissons_

Truite saumonnée à la d'Artois--Truite saumonnée à la Villard--Turbotin
soufflé à la Maréchale--Turbotin au vin du Rhin à l'Allemande--Sole
à la d'Aubigny--Sole au madère à la Valois--Suprême de sole à la
Valiéra--Suprême de sole en épigramme à la Mondaine--Suprême de sole à
la d'Orléans--D'Artois de sole à la Polignac--Huîtres à la Kotchoubey.


_Entrées_

Noisettes de filet de bœuf à la Ropan--Noisettes de filet
de bœuf à la Colbert--Tournedos à la Valencia--Tournedos à
la Chancellière--Tournedos à la Cambacères--Tournedos à la
Valence--Médaillon de pré-salé Chanford--Médaillon de pré-salé à
la Cléo de Mérode--Noisettes d'agneau Ainélie--Noisettes d'agneau
Beaumanoir--Côte de bœuf flambée Empire--Filet de bœuf flambé à la
Brechlair--Cœur de filet de bœuf Cancléan--Poularde Rozollie--Poularde
soufflé à la Royale--Poularde à la bière à la Russe--Poularde
St-Cloud--Poulet reine au fumet à la Carignon--Poulet reine à la
Florentine.

_Chaudes et Froides_.--Mousseline de jambon chaude au champagne--Mousse
de poularde au porto doré--Mousseline d'épinards à la Maintenon--Mousse
de langue chaude à l'Ecarlatée--Mousse de foie gras chaude à la
Parisienne.

_Froides_.--Jeannette de poularde--Délices de pois--Ballotine de
volaille sur socle.


_Entrées Froides_

Ris de veau à la Norvégienne--Aspic de volaille à la Ducale--Caneton
de Rouen à la Claridge--Caneton de Rouen en surprise--Ramequin
au nid--Poularde cendrillon--Terrine de foie gras au porto à la
Savaraff--Croustade de blanc de volaille Châtelaine.


_Poissons Froids_

Darne de saumon à la Pickla--Truite saumonnée à la Suédoise--Truite
saumonnée Ratelière--Langouste à la Césarine--Homarde à la
Parisienne--Escalopes de turbot Bagration--Turban de suprême de
sole Victoria--Turbotin à la Moscovite--Queues d'écrevisses en
chartreuse--Mousse de homard Le Run--Salade de poisson à la Russe.


_Entremets_

Ponchardrin à la Bourdalouse--Soufflé Palfit--Soufflé Vizir--Soufflé
Metternich--Mignon soufflé à l'Orange.


_Glaces_

Bombe Claridge--Bombe Suzette--Bombe Prince de Galles--Biscuit
Tortone--Cremolata--Pain d'Espagne Comtesse Marie--Pièces
Vénitiennes--Tutti frutti--Trauch Canelli--Orange crémeuse--Fraises
Archiduchesse.



CHAPTER XLIV

HÔTEL DE PARIS (LEICESTER PLACE)


He is a rising young artist with an idea, an idea which is, or was,
to make him and me rich beyond dreams of avarice; all that is wanted
now being a publisher who will see matters in the same light that the
rising young artist does, and who will spend a hundred thousand pounds
to back his belief.

Gentlemen, do not all speak at once.

The rising young artist wanted to talk to me quietly for an hour, to
unfold his brilliant idea, and it seemed to me that it would be an
economy of time to eat dinner and learn how a fortune can be made at
one and the same time.

"Let us go to some very quiet place, then," said the rising artist,
"for if any one were to overhear he might forestall us, and then----"
The rising artist shrugged his shoulders and spread out his hands;
and I saw the possibilities of a steam yacht, and a shooting-box in
Scotland, and a couple of horses in training at Newmarket all vanishing
into air.

Such a calamity as being forestalled should not occur if I could help
it, I said: and appointed a meeting at a club whence we would walk to
a dining-place; and the particular dining-place I had in my mind's
eye was the Hôtel de Paris, in Leicester Place, which is quiet, has
no disturbing element in the form of a band, and is almost entirely
patronised by French people, who probably would not have understood the
rising artist's idea, even if they had overheard it.

The Hôtel de Paris does not thrust itself upon the public gaze.
You pass between the two great restaurants that are springing into
existence in Leicester Square. To the right is the modest façade of the
French Embassy chapel. To the left a lamp, with "Hôtel de Paris" on
it, marks the hotel, and a large framed bill of fare shows that here
also is the restaurant. Passing through a little hall, where a page and
hall-porter bow with exceeding politeness, you turn to the right and
find a glass door, with the word "Restaurant" on it, facing you.

The rising artist was punctual to his appointment, and by a quarter
to eight we were settled down at a table for two in the restaurant, a
T-shaped room, with two arches where the upright of the T joins the
cross-line; and M. Conrarie, the manager, his moustaches turned upwards
and his frock-coat of the neatest, was standing by, while a waiter, in
plain evening clothes, submitted to us the menu of the _table-d'hôte_
dinner for the day. This was it:--


                  Printanier Royal. Crème de céleri.
               Cabillaud. Sauce Hollandaise. Blanchille.
                Poulet au riz. Tête de veau en tortue.
                    Filet de bœuf. Tomates farcies.
                         Epinards à la crème.
                           Panier Chantilly.
                               Dessert.


We made our selection of dishes, and I ordered a bottle of 1889
Perrier-Jouët; for the building up of a fortune could not be talked
over with the accompaniment of any meaner wine than champagne.

The rising artist looked carefully round the rooms. It is a pretty
restaurant, with a paper of gold sprays of foliage on a blue
background, with many mirrors, with the green of palm-leaves by the two
arches, with painted-glass windows, with electric lights dependent from
the papered ceiling and in red and yellow shaded lamps on the tables.
The tables are dotted about the room at convenient distances, and it
was at the diners sitting at these tables that the rising artist was
looking curiously to assure himself that what he was going to say would
not be overheard. The diners, with the exception of ourselves, were all
foreigners. An old Frenchman, with a white moustache and black silk
cravat tied in a great bow, was giving dinner to a smooth-faced youth
who probably was his son. Next to them was a gentleman with a peaked
beard who looked like a musician; then three young men with down on
their chins talking eagerly and gesticulating vehemently. A gentleman
with a very long beard who talked English with a foreign accent to the
waiter, and who possibly was a Russian, was at the table next to us,
and through the arches we could see a hat with black feathers and a
dainty little profile of a face with a tip-tilted nose, as well as more
Frenchmen, fat and thin, bearded and clean-shaven.

The rising artist was apparently satisfied with his scrutiny; and, as
I dallied with a sardine and he with some other _hors-d'œuvre_, he
opened the proceedings by asking me what I intended to do with my half
of the fortune we were going to make. Being a practical and prudent
man, I said that that depended upon the number of tens of thousands a
year that we should realise, but that I had already decided on buying a
large steam yacht and hiring a moor in Scotland and having a few horses
in training.

The soup then made its appearance, and did not meet with our
approval, for the chef had remedied a lack of strength by a liberal
sprinkling from the sauce-bottle. It was not in keeping with the
excellently-cooked dishes that followed.

The rising artist was going to spend his thousands in a different
manner. He thought of building such a house and studio as London
had never seen before. His collection of modern pictures was going
to be small but very good, while a few _chefs-d'œuvre_ of the old
masters--Velasquez, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt for choice--would satisfy
him. He did not care about racing or shooting, but his carriage horses
would be the best obtainable, and he thought of building a tennis-court
when he bought a little house in the country.

The whitebait was excellently cooked, and led us into conversation as
to the cooks we should presently require. A Frenchman who had at some
time served under the great Cubat and understood Russian dishes was my
idea of what would be my requirements, while the rising artist simply
thought of going to Maître Escoffier and asking him for the best cook
he had under him at the time.

The rising artist said that the _poulet au riz_ was well cooked, and
my _tête de veau_ was succulent and beautifully hot. I began to think
that it was about time that my young friend propounded his idea; but he
lingered lovingly over the details of his studio and tennis-court, and
seemed more inclined to tell me how to spend the money than how to make
it.

The _filet de bœuf_ was cooked exactly to a Frenchman's taste, a trifle
too much for an Englishman's; the tomatoes and spinach were all that
could be wished.

"Now," I said, "let's hear all about your wonderful idea."

The rising artist looked round again to be sure that nobody, not even
a waiter, was within hearing, and then whispered across the table the
broad lines of the plan he had conceived for making our joint fortune.
When he had finished he leaned back in his chair with the triumphant
air of a man who has laid the ace, king, queen, and knave of trumps on
the table. I was thinking that the champagne was far too good for the
idea.

The cream in its bread casing was put before us and I ordered coffee
and liqueurs. "Where do you expect to find a publisher who'll risk
tens or hundreds of thousands to do this?" I asked.

"Oh, _any_ publisher with _any_ pluck will jump at it," said the rising
artist airily. "It will be part of your share of the work to find our
man."

I paid the bill: two dinners, 6s.; two cafés spéciaux, 1s.; champagne,
14s.; two fine champagnes, 1s. 6d.; total, £1: 2: 6; shook hands with
the rising artist, and told him I was going out to try and find that
publisher. If any one knows of a publisher who would be likely to risk,
say, £100,000 in carrying out an artistic idea, I should be glad of his
name and address.

 28_th January_.



CHAPTER XLV

THE WALSINGHAM HOUSE (PICCADILLY)


"Oh, yes," said my maiden aunt. "I read of your going out to dinners
and taking actresses and grass-widows and other pretty ladies to dine.
I wonder you are not tired of so much frivolity."

I answered meekly that the worthlessness of my life was often felt
seriously by me, and that I took actresses and grass-widows out to
dinner because they were kind enough to say that they enjoyed such
little outings; but that I would really prefer much more serious
company.

My aunt drew down the corners of her mouth and looked at me through her
spectacles with supreme disapproval.

"If I could only," I went on, revelling in my wickedness, "secure a
missionary lady, or a captain in the Salvation Army, or a shining
light of the Pioneer Club, or even one of my maiden aunts, as a dining
companion, do you think for a moment that I would dally with the
butterflies of the pasture or the stage?"

My maiden aunt was so angry that she sniffed. "As if you would think
of asking us!" she said with a snap. "I have noticed you have been
facetious at the expense of an imaginary invalid aunt; but you would be
very sorry to ask me out really."

"But I do ask you. It would be one of the greatest honours of my life
to entertain you at dinner."

My aunt sat silent for a moment or two, her lips so tightly shut that
they were almost white. Then there came a tiny twinkle in her eyes.
"Very well," she said, "when you name an evening I'll come--just to
punish you."

I felt afterwards that I had done a bold thing, and while I was about
it I rather regretted that I had not asked my grave and spectacled
relative to sup at a Bohemian restaurant--the contrast would have been
as delicious as a _soufflé en surprise_; but dinner it had to be, and
as the good lady told all the rest of the family that I had asked her
to dinner, but was meanly trying to get out of the offer, I wrote
a formal invitation requesting the pleasure of her company at the
Walsingham House at 8 P.M., and to this I received a formal answer of
acceptance.

The Walsingham House restaurant is in the house which the Isthmian
Club occupied so long, and it forms part of the block of chambers and
hotels that stretches from the Green Park to Arlington Street. Its name
in great gilt letters stands out boldly on the red-brick face; and the
twin entrances, with glass shelters, one to the dwelling-house, the
other to the restaurant, have become well-known features of Piccadilly.
A flight of steps leads up from the door to the restaurant, and at the
top of these stairs there is a comfortable ante-room; but I preferred
to wait by the fireplace in the hall, so as to be on the spot when my
aunt arrived.

She came in a four-wheeler, the driver of which is a special retainer
of hers. He is sober and he goes to church, and as the possessor of
these two cardinal virtues, he is retained to drive my aunt on all
special occasions. I saw the glint of her spectacles through the cab
window, and went out to welcome her.

"Well, I've come, you see," she said with a certain amount of grimness;
and when I said that that was the proudest moment of my life, she
bridled and tossed her head to show how much faith she put in speeches
of that kind. I told the faithful cabman that he had better be in
evidence at half-past nine, and then I waited on the landing while my
aunt went up to the region of the second floor to leave her cloak.

When she reappeared, I found that she was in her raiment of ceremony,
and felt duly honoured. She was wearing her best black silk dress, a
dress of such richness of silk that--so the family tradition goes--it
will stand up of itself, and her most highly ornamented lace cap. She
had her thick gold chain on, her brooch of rose diamonds, and her long
enamel earrings. I ushered her in to the table for two, which I had
reserved, and she settled down with a rustle, and then looked round
somewhat defiantly.

"Are you well known here?" she asked, and I said that I occasionally
lunched or dined in the restaurant. "I only hope that they won't take
me for one of your actress friends--that's all," she said, and, do what
I could, I could not prevent the corners of my mouth from twitching. I
was told severely that it was no laughing matter; and, putting her fan
down by her plate, my aunt took up the menu and read it through:--


                             Hors-d'œuvre.
                      Croûte au pot. Mock turtle.
                         Filets de sole Dutru.
                         Tournedos Walsingham.
                           Pommes soufflées.
                    Suprême de volaille Jeannette.
                            Canard sauvage.
                                Salade.
                       Artichauts Hollandaises.
                         Glaces Napolitaines.
                              Patisserie.


My respected relative knows what constitutes a good dinner as well as
anybody does; and though she would have dearly loved to be able to
pick a hole in the menu, she put it down with a satisfied expression,
and, indeed, except for the _croûte au pot_, which is to me what King
Charles's head was to poor Mr. Dick, it was a very well-considered
dinner.

I ate the mock turtle, very good soup, but still a foreigner's idea of
what is a thoroughly Britannic dish, and while I did so my aunt, who
had refused soup, sat and watched me. "You have been getting terribly
stout of late years," she said, as I put down my spoon, "and for a man
with a neck like yours that is dangerous. There is apoplexy in the
family; one of your poor dear great-uncles died in an apoplectic fit.
He always ate and drank too much, poor fellow."

The _filets de sole_, with their slight flavouring of cheese and
accompanying shrimps and _moules_, were excellent. My aunt supped her
champagne, and the corners of her mouth relaxed. But she still had some
ammunition to fire away. "You were not at church last Sunday," she
said with severity; but that was a matter I declined to discuss while
eating dinner, and, to change the subject, I drew her attention to the
beauties of the room, the deep frieze admirably painted with subjects
of the chase, showing how our skin-clad ancestors collected their
venison and game birds, the cunningly concealed lights, the panelling
of inlaid woods, the white pillars and cornices just touched with gold,
the comfortable brown-red carpet and chairs to match it, the curtains
of deep crimson velvet, the ceiling with its little cupids floating
on roseate clouds; and the old lady nodded her head in approval. M.
Renato, the spick-and-span little manager; the waiters with white
waistcoats, gold buttons to their coats, and a thin piping of gold on
their collars; the band playing subdued music, the brass candelabra on
the table with red shades, the fine napery and glass, were all noted by
her. I told my aunt that the coat-of-arms on the china, supported by
two griffins scratching their backs with their noses, were the arms of
the De Greys, and with a "Hoity-toity!" I was requested not to give her
lectures in heraldry.

The _tournedos Walsingham_, with truffles, _fonds d'artichauts_ and
a pink sauce so cunningly mixed that one could not tell what the
ingredients were, showed the artistic hand of M. Dutru; and the cold
entrée, the _suprême de volaille_ served on a rock of glass, was
excellent. My aunt by now was in an inquiring mood, and wanted to know
if there were any of my actress friends among the many diners--for by
half-past eight nearly every table was occupied. I was sorry that I
could not show her any lights of the stage, but I could tell her of the
Irish lord who was giving a family dinner-party, of the old general
dining _tête-à-tête_ with his son, and of the three foreign attachés
who were inventing fables as to the Dreyfus case for each other's
benefit.

The duck, the artichokes, and the ice were all that they should be, and
my aunt was thoroughly pleased, for she told me, smilingly, that she
had always considered me the scapegrace of the family.

I paid my bill. Two dinners, 15s.; two cafés doubles, 1s. 6d.;
champagne, 15s.; liqueurs, 2s.; total, £1: 13: 6.

The faithful cabman was waiting outside, and as my aunt got into the
cab she tapped me on the arm with her fan, and said that she had
enjoyed herself.

Perhaps, after all, the old lady will remember me in her will.

 21_st January_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I asked Mons. Gelardi, the manager of the Walsingham House, if he would
be so kind as to give me the _recette_ for the _tournedos Walsingham_,
and M. Dutru very kindly wrote it out for me.


Tournedos Walsingham

_Faire sauter les tournedos à feu vif: dresser sur fonds d'artichauts
et saucer d'une sauce madère avec lames de truffes; envoyer à part une
saucière de Béarnaise à la tomate et pommes._

[Illustration]

Cook your tournedos over a quick fire, place them on _fonds
d'artichauts_ and add Madeira sauce and sliced truffles. Serve
separately Béarnaise sauce _à la tomate_ and potatoes.

M. Gelardi also told me of a dinner for fifty people that was to be
served at the Walsingham the next night, and showed me the menu.


                             Hors-d'œuvre.
                         Caviar. Saumon fumé.
               Tortue claire. Velouté printanier Royal.
                 Truite saumonée glacée au champagne.
                          Sole à la Meunière.
        Filets de poulet aux truffes. Petits pois à l'anglaise.
        Selle d'agneau de Galles. Artichauts aux frais herbes.
                    Suprême de cailles Valsingham.
                   Timbale d'écrevisses Américaine.
                       Sorbet au Clicquot Rosé.
                     Caneton de Rouen Rouennaise.
                            Salade Rachel.
                  Asperges d'Argenteuil hollandaise.
                     Cerise Jubilé. Bombe Alaska.
                              Friandises.
                     Soufflé au Paprica. Dessert.



CHAPTER XLVI

CHALLIS'S (RUPERT STREET)


I felt like an extract from a Christmas story after the manner of
Charles Dickens. I was the unfortunate, desponding individual driven
at Christmas time to eat a solitary dinner in a deserted club, and as
I sat down to the little table, with three waiters regarding me with
placid curiosity, I felt a savage discontent that no spirit of a dead
sweetheart of days gone by, no child-angel, would appear to me as they
always do to the morose heroes of Christmas stories.

I had been reduced to solitude, moroseness, and a club dinner by
the possession of two tickets for Barnum and Bailey's great show at
Olympia. It was the day after Boxing Day, and I felt sure in the
afternoon that I should find a companion eager to see the performance
and previously to dine quietly at some little restaurant where
dress-clothes would not be _en règle_. Somehow or other I found it very
difficult to secure my man. It was the dream of the life of every man I
met to go to Olympia; but not to go there on Tuesday night. If I could
change the tickets for others for Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday
night I could have had a choice of fifty companions, but on Tuesday all
the married men said they had to dine at home with their wives; all
the unmarried ones had some other engagement. I began to feel that I
was shunned by mankind, and instead of thinking that I was conferring
a great favour by an offer of the spare ticket, I adopted an almost
imploring tone, begging for companionship.

I wandered from club to club, taking a gloomy pleasure in the sloppy
streets and the vestiges of the gale of the night before. They fitted
well with my growing melancholy. It was too late to send the tickets
back and to go home and dine. I had to dree my weird, and, like the
Wandering Jew, I moved on from place to place, seeking a companion and
finding none.

At the last club I went to--a little Bohemian club--I found my man.
He was playing dominoes. When I interrupted the game to ask him if he
would dine with me and come to Olympia, instead of making an excuse,
as the others had done, he said that nothing in the world would please
him better. He had to go home for a minute or to, but would be back, he
said, at the club at a quarter to seven. We would stroll over to some
bright, cheap restaurant and have a mouthful of food, and then take cab
and see the horses and gymnasts, freaks and miniature warships. I felt
I had at all events one friend in the world.

A quarter to seven came and the club was deserted by everybody except a
member asleep in an armchair and myself. I sat and watched the clock,
and three waiters stood by the little tables at the end of the room
and looked at me and talked in whispers to each other. The minute-hand
drew gradually up to the hour, and as it did so I sank down into the
depths of despondency. My friend had deserted me, basely deserted
me, or else he was killed, run over perhaps, or struck by a falling
chimney. The minute-hand went on to five minutes past, the member in
the armchair snored gently and regularly, the waiters seemed to look
at me pityingly. Pity from a waiter I could not endure. I got up and
went over to one of the little tables and sat down. The waiters looked
placidly pleased. I was relieving the monotony of their lives. I said I
would take the club dinner and a whisky-and-soda, and when two of the
waiters faded away, the other remained on guard. I put my elbows on the
table, and my head in my hands, and felt that I was indeed the morose
hero of pathetic Christmas magazine literature.

My soup was brought, and a whisky-and-soda deposited tenderly by the
side of the plate, when the door was flung open, and in came my missing
friend clothed in evening dress and radiant. There was an engagement he
had forgotten: he was taking a lady to dine at Challis's--new little
place of Baker's--a thousand apologies--I must cancel club dinner and
come over--couldn't keep the lady waiting--see me again in two minutes.
And he was out of the room again like a well-dressed whirlwind.

I did cancel the rest of my club dinner, to the suppressed grief
of the three waiters, who saw thus the only relief to their boredom
vanish. I put on hat and coat and walked through the darkness and slush
to Rupert Street, where two great ornamental lamps made a brave splash
of light in the gloom, and where a tablet of opal glass with ruby
lettering on it, dependent from a highly-ornamental glass and metal
door-shelter, set forth that here was the restaurant of Challis's Hotel.

To go from the darkness of the street by the direct door into the
restaurant is like the transition in the pantomime from the Realms
of the Demon Gloom to the Glittering Palace of the Good Fairy; and,
in my splashed boots and morning attire, I felt like the solitary
scene-shifter who is generally "discovered" in the midst of the
glittering scene when the front cloth rises.

Challis's Restaurant consists of two rooms, opening one into the other,
one decorated after the manner of the Louis XIV. period, and the other
after the manner of the Louis XV. period. Both are as pretty as a
bride-cake or a silk Watteau fan. White and gold and soft colour are
everywhere. The ceilings are painted with clouds and little roseate
deities, and echoes of Fragonard, and the other courtly painters of
dainty sylvan dreams are in the panels of the wall. The place blazes
with electric light, a starry constellation in the ceiling, lights
shaded with blue and pink and old-gold shades in brackets on the wall,
and on the table candle-lamps crowned with deep red shades. A palm
topping a little chiffonnier of white wood, a fireplace with pillars
of white-and-gold, and little bronzes on the mantelpiece; chairs of
dark wood, in keeping with the period; a carpet of deep red, and in one
corner a little counter of white wood, with a pretty little lady behind
it. Such was as much as I can remember of the setting of a scene in
which I should not have been the least surprised to have seen little
_abbés_ and _marquises_ feasting on syllabub and various dainties, and
dancing pavanes and minuets and gavottes between the courses.

A waiter in white waistcoat and with gold buttons to his coat, was
waiting to take my coat and hat, and my friend was beckoning me to a
table where he was sitting with a pretty lady in evening dress.

I was introduced, but did not catch the pretty lady's name. She
seemed to look upon it as being the most natural thing in the world
that I should have been brought away half-way through one dinner to
eat another, and so did my friend; and as it all seemed to be part
of a Christmas story, it all became natural to me. If Santa Claus
and St. George and the Dragon had come in and taken seats at one of
the neighbouring tables I do not think that on that particular night
I should have thought the matter called for any particular remark.
Every man but myself was in dress clothes, and I felt very like the
Ugly Duckling; but the unknown pretty lady did not allow me to be ill
at ease. She talked, and talked admirably, on subject after subject,
gliding from pictures to theatres, from books to music, with perfect
ease and knowledge. My friend sat in silent contentment, and I in a
dazed state of wonder as to who this clever pretty lady might be, and
how it was my friend could have forgotten his appointment with her,
and I felt very thankful to her for being at the trouble to talk to a
mud-splashed outcast like myself. This was the menu--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
              Consommé aux Profiterolles. Crème Jackson.
                             Blanchailles.
                    Civet de lièvre à la Française.
                         Aloyau à la moderne.
                    Poulet rôti au cresson. Salade.
                           Choux à la crème.
                          Glace aux apricots.
                             Petits fours.
                               Dessert.


The whitebait, which was the first dish I tasted, was good. The beef
and the chicken were both as good as the market affords. We drank a
light hock which was eminently drinkable, and when M. Coccioletti,
in explanation, as he presented the bill, said to my friend, "Three
dinners at 3s. 6d.," it struck me that I had eaten a very good dinner
for that price.

"Good-bye, old fellow--explain next time we meet--hope you'll have a
good time at Olympia," was what my friend said as he helped the fair
unknown into a brougham, and got in after her. She smiled at me. I was
left on the doorstep with the awful responsibility of those two tickets
for Barnum and Bailey's show.

 31_st December_.



CHAPTER XLVII

EPITAUX'S (THE HAYMARKET)


The handwriting on the letter was familiar. The letter bore a U.S.A.
stamp. I wondered why Miss Dainty, of all the principal London
theatres, whom I had seen off one day last summer from St. Pancras,
whence she started for the land of Dollars, and from whom I had not
heard since, should have suddenly found reason to correspond with me.

Miss Dainty informed me that she was having a high old time in the
States, that she was drawing a princely salary, that Jack, the fighting
fox-terrier, was very well and as pugnacious as ever, and that she had
not yet made up her mind which of the many wealthy men who had laid
their money-bags at her feet she was going to marry. The real reason of
the letter lay in the last sentence, in which she told me that a real
nice girl who had been her room-mate on tour, was coming to England, to
join a theatrical company, by the steamer that would carry her letter,
and would I, she wrote, be of any service to the fair stranger I could,
for her sake.

I wrote to the theatre introducing myself, at Miss Dainty's desire,
asking if I could be of any service, and suggesting to Miss Belle that
if she would be kind enough to let me talk to her for half an hour, I
should like to do so on Sunday across a dinner-table, and proposing
Epitaux's in the Haymarket as being quiet and bright.

Miss Belle, in a little letter ending, "Yours cordially," wrote that
she would be pleased to dine, and added that Miss Dainty had often
spoken of me.

In one matter Epitaux's is deficient--there is no entrance lounge
or waiting-room. A very smart little buffet, with ornamental glass
windows, faces the street, and alongside this a narrow entrance
passage, gorgeous in white and gold, leads to a short flight of steps
and the glass doors which shield the restaurant. I had asked Miss Belle
to dine at eight, and I waited at the street entrance, hoping that
instinct would point her out to me when she arrived.

Two men drove up in a hansom. A brougham disgorged a married couple.
Then a hansom came with a clatter down the Haymarket, pulled up, and a
lady, good-looking and very becomingly attired, opened the doors and
prepared to get out. The commissionaire put the guard over the wheel,
and Miss Belle, for there could be no doubt that it was she, jumped
down before I had time to introduce myself and offer a hand.

Miss Belle said a pretty word or two as to the invitation to dinner,
and hoped she was not late; and as we went up the entrance passage she
told me that she considered Miss Dainty the sweetest girl upon earth,
and that she would have recognised me from the picture that Miss Dainty
had shown her.

Miss Belle allowed me to help her off with her coat, while I explained
that I had chosen Epitaux's for our dining-place because it is
comparatively small, and that I was not likely to miss her arrival, as
might have happened at Princes' or the Savoy. The pretty lady, looking
round the dainty _bonbonnière_ of a restaurant--with its walls of the
lightest cream colour, its pilasters and cornices picked out with gold,
its panels of deep blue-green stamped velvet, its musicians' gallery
filled with palms, under which in a glass-enclosed room a young lady in
black serves out the wines and liqueurs, its blaze of electric lights
on the walls and its shaded lights on the tables--approved thoroughly
of my choice. She had been at parties at Princes' and the Savoy, the
Cecil and Romano's, since she arrived a fortnight ago; but she thought
Epitaux's, which was new to her, very snug and nice.

I hoped that Miss Belle had had a good passage, but she had not;
and I trusted that to make up for bad weather she had had pleasant
fellow-passengers; but the passengers seemed to have been as
indifferent as the weather.

Messrs. Costa and Rizzi, the two proprietors--one tall, with a
moustache that a cavalryman might envy; the other short, with
a grizzled beard--had been hovering by the table, and the head
waiter, with the _carte de jour_ in one hand, and the menu of the
_table-d'hôte_ dinner in the other, was waiting for orders.

I chose the _table-d'hôte_ dinner--


                         Hors-d'œuvre variés.
                     Croûte au pot. Crème Dubarry.
                 Filets de sole Portugaise. Whitebait.
              Côtelettes d'agneau aux pointes d'asperges.
                        Canard sauvage. Salade.
                          Céleri à la moëlle.
                      Biscuit glacé au chocolat.
                   Canapé de laitances à la Diable.
                               Dessert.


--and ordered a bottle of G.H. Mumm, 1889. Miss Belle, having settled
down into conversational mood, told me that she had rooms in a house
in Bloomsbury in which some of the other ladies of the company lived.
"We girls go about together. We go everywhere, and nobody ever
says anything to us. Yes, sir. That is one thing I will say about
Englishmen, as a rule they are not fresh." She was quite surprised that
English girls did not do the same. In the security of this sisterhood
there was nowhere she and the other girls could not go. The night
before, five of them had taken a private room at the Trocadéro, and had
supped by themselves with great content, rejoicing in the absence of
man. The London policemen were the institutions that "in your dirty old
town" met with thorough approval from Miss Belle. She warranted them
polite and ready to answer questions. "If you ask anything of a New
York policeman you get a hard look back and that's all."

The _croûte au pot_ was strong, but too salt. I am, perhaps,
prejudiced against the eternal _croûte au pot_ and _petite marmite_.
Miss Belle, who took the thick soup, approved of it highly. The _filets
de sole Portugaise_ were admirable.

We had a table at the far end of the room from the kitchen, which
accounted for the whitebait, excellently cooked as it was, not being as
hot as whitebait should be.

I felt that I had cross-examined Miss Belle as much as politeness
allowed, so I told her something of the history of Epitaux's; how the
site was originally that of Foote's Theatre in the Haymarket--Foote the
witty buffoon, who was a big enough man in his day to pose as a rival
to Garrick--and how at a later period it became the Café de l'Europe.
Here, in the ante-early-closing days, after the midnight farce at the
Haymarket Theatre next door, the stern critics of the pit would come
to eat their chop, or Welsh-rabbit, or tripe and onions, and talk
learnedly of plays and players till two in the morning. And I told Miss
Belle of the old Epitaux's in the Opera colonnade, the name of which
has been transferred to the new establishment in the Haymarket; how in
the early Victorian days it was one of the very few restaurants where
good French cookery could be found, and how the Iron Duke, and other
famous men used to give little dinner-parties there.

Then Miss Belle took up the running, and told me of the restaurants of
modern New York, of the up-town Delmonico's, which has been built since
I crossed the herring-pond, and of Sherry's, Martin's, Burns's, and
Shandley's, the three latter Bohemian, but not the less comfortable for
that.

The cutlets were excellent, and the asparagus the best I have tasted
this winter, while the duck was cooked to an absolute nicety. The
_biscuit glacé au chocolat_ was as delightful and evanescent as a good
dream. Altogether it was a very good dinner, though the cook _did_ have
a little accident with the salt-cellar in preparing the _croûte au pot_.

Miss Belle told me of her tour in the same company with Miss Dainty, of
adventures at "one-night stands," of cowboys who brought their bronchos
for the ladies of the company to ride, and other tales that amused
me much while we drank our coffee and liqueurs. "Guess I've talked a
streak," she said, when in a pause I asked for my bill.

Two dinners, 15s.; two cafés, 1s.; champagne, 14s.; liqueurs, 2s.;
total £1: 12s., was what I paid.

 4_th January_.


THE END


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_



        *       *       *       *       *

 ALL DOCTORS
 AGREE that
 Max Greger's
 Hungarian Wines
 are REJUVENATING
 and INVIGORATING

 BARON LIEBIG, in a letter which excited much attention at the
 time, announced boldly the reason of his belief in the use of
 Hungarian Wines.

 Recommended, alike for the Anæmic and the Robust, by the highest
 Medical Authorities for over 35 years.

 _See that every cork bears the brand_
 "MAX GREGER,"
 _without it the Wine is not genuine.
 In Bottles and Screw-Stoppered Flagons.
 From 15s. to 60s. per doz._
 OF ALL WINE MERCHANTS.

 Sole Proprietors: SEPTIMUS PARSONAGE & Co., Ltd.,
 45, St. Thomas Street, LONDON, S.E.

        *       *       *       *       *

 Mustard Manufacturers by Special Warrant
 to the Queen

 Colman's
 D. S. F. Mustard
 SEE THAT THE NAME IS ON THE TIN

 Colman's
 Corn Flour
 FOR BLANC MANGES, CUSTARDS, &c.

 Colman's
 Self=Rising Flour
 FOR MAKING BREAD, PASTRY, CAKES,
 PUDDINGS, SCONES, &c, &c.

        *       *       *       *       *

 SCOTT'S

 Telegraphic Address--"SCOTT'S, LONDON."
 Telephone No. 2513 Gerrard.

 Rebuilt 1893.

 OYSTERS
 AND
 LOBSTERS.

 _Cuisine of the
 Highest Quality._

 18, 19, & 20
 Coventry St.

 AND

 1 & 2 Gt. Windmill St.
 Top of the Haymarket.

 _Suppers after the Theatres a Speciality._

        *       *       *       *       *

 HOTEL CECIL
 & RESTAURANT,
 STRAND, W.C.

 Largest and Most Magnificent Hotel in Europe.

 BEDROOMS FROM 6/- PER DAY INCLUDING
 LIGHT AND ATTENDANCE.

 _The Dinner of London_--"THE CECELIA" at 10/6.

 Telegraphic Address--"CECELIA," LONDON.

 A. JUDAH, _Manager_.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The Walsingham House Hotel & Restaurant
 Piccadilly, W.

 Overlooking the Green Park, and occupying the finest
 position in London.

 TARIFF
 Single Bedroom                             from 7/6
 Bed Sitting-Room                           from 12/6
 Sitting-Room and Bedroom, Self-contained   from 25/-
 Extra Bed                                  from 2/6
 Children's Cot                             from 1/6

 SPECIAL TERMS FOR A PROLONGED STAY.

 Plain Breakfast                2/-
 Plain Breakfast with Eggs      2/6
 Breakfast with Fish or Meat    3/6
 Cup of Tea, Bread and Butter   1/-
 Cup of Coffee (demi Tasse)     6d.
 Day Fire                       2/-
 Evening Fire                   1/-

 _TABLE D'HÔTE DINNER is served in the Salle à Manger, from
 6 to 8, as per daily Bill of Fare, at 7/6 per Head._

 AMERICAN and CONTINENTAL Visitors will find "The
 Walsingham" with its Private Rooms, Restaurant, Terrace,
 and Garden, overlooking the Park, one of the most
 comfortable and _recherché_ resorts in London.

        *       *       *       *       *

 [Illustration]

 Charing Cross
 Turkish Baths
 (Nevill's.)

 Gentlemen's Entrance,
 NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE.

 SEPARATE BATHS FOR LADIES.
 ENTRANCE--Northumberland Avenue, Craven Street, Strand.

 PRONOUNCED TO BE THE FINEST IN LONDON.
 Admission: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 3s. 6d.; after 7 p.m., 2s.

 These Baths stand on what was formerly part of the grounds of
 Northumberland House, occupied nearly three years in building,
 and involved an expenditure of £30,000. They comprise a suite of Bath
 Rooms, having a floor space of about twelve thousand feet for gentlemen,
 with a smaller set in a separate contiguous building for the exclusive use
 of ladies. The cooling rooms, which are surmounted by a lofty dome
 designed to permit the free circulation of air and to ensure perfect
 ventilation,  are fitted in a most luxurious manner; the whole of the
 decorations of both cooling and hot rooms have been designed by most
 eminent authorities; while the heating and ventilation of the hot chambers
 are  brought to a state of perfection by the use of the system first
 introduced by the Proprietors.

 And at LONDON BRIDGE, NEW BROAD STREET,
 ALDGATE, AND EDGWARE ROAD.

 PROSPECTUS POST FREE.

        *       *       *       *       *

 Princes' Restaurant, Piccadilly,
 Admittedly the Most Fashionable in London.

 TABLE D'HÔTE LUNCHEON, 4s. 6d.; DINNERS À LA CARTE;
 SUPPERS, 5s.

 _Finest Wines and Cuisine only._

 Bocchi's Famous Orchestra Performs Daily.

 A large Banqueting Hall, seating 150 People, is now
 open for Regimental and City Dinners, Wedding and other
 Receptions; also smaller Dining Rooms for Parties, and
 Institute Picture Galleries for Balls.

 Managing Director--GUSTAVE FOURAULT.

 Also a Nice and Comfortable Hotel, the Entrance of which is
 in Jermyn Street.

        *       *       *       *       *

 RESTAURANT DIEUDONNÉ,
 RYDER STREET, ST. JAMES'S.

 HANDSOMELY DECORATED IN THE LOUIS XV. STYLE,
 CELEBRATED FOR ITS EXCELLENT AND
 DELICATE CUISINE
 AND ITS LARGE STOCK OF FINE WINES.

 LUNCHEON, 3/-           }
 THE THEATRE DINNER, 5/6 }Couvert, 6d.
 SPECIAL DINNER, 7/6     }
 THEATRE SUPPER, 4/6.

 Dinners, Luncheons, and Suppers à la Carte.
 Special Menu on Sunday.

 Great attention paid to the 3/- Luncheon, which is pronounced
 to be the best in London.

 Telegraphic Address, "Guffanti, London."
 Telephone No. 5265 Gerrard.

        *       *       *       *       *

 Highest Honours at all Exhibitions.

 CHOCOLAT-MENIER

 [Illustration]

 FOR
 Breakfast
 Luncheon
 AND
 Supper

 AVERAGE DAILY SALES,
 _50 TONS._

 The Largest Factory in the World.

 WORKS: NOISIEL-SUR-MARNE, PARIS.

 SOLD RETAIL EVERYWHERE.

        *       *       *       *       *

 ROMANO'S RESTAURANT,

 399--STRAND--400.

 LUNCHEONS, DINNERS, SUPPERS.

 Table d'Hôte or à la Carte. Service at separate Tables.

 This palatial restaurant has been entirely rebuilt, and lighted
 throughout by electricity. The decorations, lighting, and ventilation
 have rendered Romano's one of the sights of London.

 Veritable cuisine Parisienne. Choicest wines. Elite orchestra.
 Quietude, comfort, personal supervision of
   A. ROMANO, Proprietor,
   C. A. ANTONELLI, Manager.

 Telephone No. 5428. Telegrams: "Romano, Strand, London."

 399--STRAND--400.

 ROMANO'S RESTAURANT.

        *       *       *       *       *

 "VERREY'S"
 RESTAURANT,
 229 REGENT STREET
 (Corner of Hanover Street).

 The New Persian Room
 is the Most Beautiful Dining-Room in London.

 DINING À LA CARTE.
   LA HAUTE CUISINE FRANÇAISE.

 OPEN SUNDAY EVENINGS ALSO.

 _To Reserve Tables apply to Manager. Telephone No. 1742 Gerrard._

        *       *       *       *       *

 [Illustration]

 AUG. MICHEL,
 STRASBOURG

 PÂTÉS DE FOIE GRAS and
 STRASBOURG SPECIALITIES

 Purveyor to several Royal Households.

 40 Gold Medals and Diplomas of Honour.

 PÂTÉS DE FOIE GRAS
 _aux truffes du Périgord_

 PÂTÉS DE GIBIER
 _au foie gras truffé_

 PURÉES DE FOIE GRAS et GIBIER ETC.,

 _To be Found
 Everywhere._

 LONDON AGENCY: 18, CULLUM ST., FENCHURCH ST., E.C.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The Queen's Hotel
 and Restaurant,
 LEICESTER SQUARE.
 (BAKER AND CO., PROPRIETORS.)

 _Manager,_
 MONS. G. GUILLOT.

 _Chef de Cuisine,_
 MAÎTRE CHARPENTIER.

 This magnificent Hotel and Restaurant is
 NOW OPEN for the reception of guests.
 The building is planned and decorated upon the
 most approved modern principles, and has been
 furnished throughout by Messrs. MAPLE & CO.

 A TABLE D'HÔTE LUNCHEON
 Served at 3s. 6d. per head in the Grand Hall from
 1 to 2.30 p.m.

 TABLE D'HÔTE DINNER
 At 5s. per head from 6 to 9 p.m.

 SUPPERS
 After the Theatre (à la carte) served in Grand Hall.

 _Tables may be reserved by Telephone No. 2088 Gerrard._

 THE GRILL ROOM is open from 12 a.m. to 12.30 midnight.

 THE QUEEN'S ORCHESTRA, under the direction of Mr. Meyer Van
 Praag, will play DAILY in the Grand Hall and Grill Room.

        *       *       *       *       *

 RESTAURANT.
 THE OLD BLUE POSTS
 No. 13 CORK STREET
 (Close to Burlington House, between Bond Street and Regent Street.)

 _DINNERS AND LUNCHEONS À LA CARTE.
 Coffee-Room, Private Dining-Rooms for Large and Small Parties._

 Special Hot English Dishes from 1 to 3   1/6
 Dinner from the Joint                    2/6

 _Genuine First-Class Cuisine. The very best Vintage Wines and the
 Choicest Brands of Cigars._

        *       *       *       *       *

 SCHLETTE'S HOTEL,
 14 Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, W.

 SINGLE BEDROOMS from 4/- per day.
 SMALL SUITES OF ROOMS from 2½ Guineas per week.

        *       *       *       *       *

 OF ALL HIGH-CLASS PROVISION DEALERS.

 [Illustration]

 Denny's
 Star Brand
 Bacon and Hams

 To guard against the substitution of other bacon, and especially Foreign
 and Colonial, see the brand as here shown.

 HENRY DENNY & SONS, Ltd.
 (_Established considerably over half a century_),
 ARE THE LARGEST CURERS IN THE KINGDOM.

        *       *       *       *       *

 SAVOY HOTEL, LONDON.

 Overlooking River and Embankment Gardens.

 By Day the most beautiful Garden and River View in Europe.
 By Night a Fairy Scene.

 SAVOY RESTAURANT of Gastronomic Fame.
 _Under the direction of the famous Maître d'Hôtel "Joseph."_
 DINNERS À LA CARTE. PRIVATE ROOMS FOR PARTIES.
 THE SAVOY DÉJEUNER, 5s. THE OPERA SUPPER, 5s.
 PRIX FIXE DINNER (7s. 6d.) SERVED IN THE NEW SALLE À MANGER.
 The Orchestra plays during Dinner and Supper.

 The GRAND HOTEL, ROME, is under the same direction.

        *       *       *       *       *

 CLARIDGE'S HOTEL, LONDON,
 BROOK STREET, GROSVENOR SQUARE, W.

 In the centre of fashionable London. The old Royal Hostelry resuscitated.
 THE ORCHESTRA PLAYS IN THE RESTAURANT DURING DINNER.

 SUITES OF ROOMS OF ALL SIZES.
 Over 300 Rooms. Nearly 100 Bathrooms.

 _General Manager_-- MR. H. MENGAY.

        *       *       *       *       *

 THE SHIP, GREENWICH.

 Telephone 201 Deptford.

 HIGH-CLASS DINNERS
 and
 RARE VINTAGE WINES.

 _Public and Private Rooms facing the River_.

 Al-fresco dining in the very hot weather.

 Telegrams and Letters, Address BALE.

        *       *       *       *       *

 [Illustration]

 LERINA
 "THE"
 LIQUEUR.

 LIQUEUR made by the Monks of the
 ABBEY OF OUR LADY OF LERINS
 On the Island of St. Honorat, CANNES (Alpes Maritimes).

 Well known to all Visitors to the Riviera.

 ESSENTIALLY DIGESTIVE.

 LERINA
 "THE"
 LIQUEUR.

 CAN BE OBTAINED FROM ALL STORES AND
 WINE MERCHANTS.

        *       *       *       *       *

 Adjoining the Haymarket Theatre and opposite
 Her Majesty's Theatre.

 EPITAUX'S RESTAURANT,
 LATE CAFÉ DE L'EUROPE,
 9 & 10 HAYMARKET, S.W.

 This famous Restaurant has been reconstructed and appointed in
 the most recherché style, and is now open for Luncheons at 2/6,
 Dinners à la Carte or at fixed prices, and Suppers at 3/-, after the
 theatres (speciality). Also on Sundays, from 6 till 11 p.m. The High-class
 Cuisine is under the personal superintendence of the proprietor,
 and the well-known cellars of M. COSTA, late of the Washington,
 Oxford Street, have been carefully removed to this establishment.

 Telephone No. 1486 Gerrard.

 EPITAUX'S RESTAURANT,
 9 & 10 HAYMARKET, S.W.

        *       *       *       *       *

 PAGANI'S RESTAURANT,
 44 & 48 GREAT PORTLAND STREET
 _Haute Cuisine at Moderate Prices._

 Telephone--2710 Gerrard.  Telegrams--Soufflé, London.

 RENOWNED FRENCH & ITALIAN CUISINE.
 Luncheons, Dinners and Suppers
 à la Carte.

 Open from 8 a.m.
 till 12.30 p.m.

 The Famous
 ARTIST ROOM
 can be
 Reserved for Private Parties,
 etc.

 Best Vintage Wines.

 M. & G. PAGANI, Proprietors.

        *       *       *       *       *

 THE EQUITABLE
 Life Assurance Society
 OF THE UNITED STATES.

 ASSETS exceed 53¾ MILLIONS STERLING.
 SURPLUS over all LIABILITIES exceeds 11¾ MILLIONS STERLING.

 Paid to Policyholders during 1898--
   Over £4,980,000 Sterling.
 Paid to Policyholders in less than 40 years--
   Over £62,270,000 Sterling.

 The Policies of the Equitable of the United
 States secure:--

 1. A Lucrative Investment.
 2. Protection for a Wife.
 3. Endowment for Children.
 4. Education for Children.
 5. Provision for Old Age.

 _Amounts of Cash Surrenders, Loans, Paid-up Assurance are
 written in the_ EQUITABLE'S _Policies and Guaranteed._

 Head Office for Great Britain and Ireland:
 6 PRINCES STREET, BANK, LONDON.
 A. MUNKITTRICK and W. TRIGGS, _General Managers_.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The Criterion Restaurant,
 PICCADILLY, LONDON.

 THE EAST ROOM,
 Entirely remodelled and charmingly redecorated in Louis XV.
 style, is now one of the most elegant Restaurant Salons in the
 world, and overlooks Piccadilly. Cuisine Véritablement fine.
 Déjeuners, Dîners et Soupers à la Carte, or at fixed prices.

 THE WEST ROOM
 Has also been remodelled and redecorated in Louis XVI. style,
 and can be strongly recommended for its comfort and elegant
 service. Academy Luncheon at 2/6. Dîner parisienne at 5/-.

 GRAND HALL.
 A most excellent dinner is served at the very moderate price of 3/6.

 RESTAURANT.
 On the ground floor for the service à la Carte, or at fixed popular
 prices.

 The Magyar Honved Band plays in the Central Minstrels' Gallery a
 selection of high-class music during Luncheon, Dinner,
 and Supper.

 BUFFET AND AMERICAN BAR.

 LARGE AND SMALL BANQUETING ROOMS.

 THE GRILL ROOM
 On the lower ground floor, with two special entrances in Jermyn
 Street, can be strongly recommended for its quick service and very
 moderate prices.

 Attention is called to the New Private Entrance in Jermyn Street,
 affording most convenient access to all floors.

 Quick travelling Lifts at both Entrances.

 The Criterion Restaurant,
 PICCADILLY, LONDON.

 SPIERS & POND, LTD.,
 _Proprietors_.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The Flowing Bowl:
 A Treatise on Drinks of all Kinds and of all Periods,
 interspersed with sundry Anecdotes and Reminiscences

 By EDWARD SPENCER
 WITH COVER DESIGNED BY PHIL MAY

 [Illustration: _The Cover-drawing of_ "THE FLOWING BOWL."]

 Small 4to. Cloth, 5s.

 GRANT RICHARDS
 9 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.

        *       *       *       *       *

 "_Most useful companions to the traveller_."--PUNCH.

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 3s. 6d. net each.

 _VOLUMES NOW READY._
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 Some Opinions of the Press.

 _THE TIMES_.--"Such good work in the way of showing students the right
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 _THE GUARDIAN_.--"From the point of view of really intelligent
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 than anything that we yet have; and if the holiday-maker will only take
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 learnt more of the real city than in all his former visits."

 _THE SPECTATOR_.--"A visitor to Florence could hardly, we imagine, do
 better than provide himself with this volume. A great amount of
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 book is light, and such as can go into a pocket of moderate capacity. Mr
 Grant Allen not only guides his reader's  judgment, but disposes of his
 time for him; he must not only not do much at once,  but must arrange his
 sight-seeing in an economical and intelligent way."

 GRANT RICHARDS, 9 HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.

        *       *       *       *       *

 The Pall Mall Magazine.
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 In its Pages will shortly appear:--
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 Anglo-Egyptian Tales. Six Stories. By GILBERT
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 The American Stage. Three Articles. By F.C. BURNAND,
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 American Architecture--
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 Boston.  MONTGOMERY SCHUYLER.

 Readers are respectfully requested to order the _PALL
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