“Well I really am not going to be imprisoned in the suburbs for dining in the west-end!”
– Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Jeff is working in Peterborough again this month which means after a long day of typing away at my desk, I’m responsible for keeping myself entertained. Luckily I have the internet…to make friends.
I’m part of several groups that have personal, practical, journalistic, and academic interests in feminist movements and initiatives in religious cultures and communities. Through these groups I’ve met a whole host of fascinating, hilarious, scarily smart ladies whom I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with over the years. Two such ladies currently live in London, so naturally we decided to have a hang out. One is an academic and author who works for the Princes School for Traditional Arts the other is a graduate student from my alma mater currently the resident TA for a study abroad program, and working on her thesis. And then there’s me. Professional scribbler.
I procured theatre tickets, another made a reservation, one thing led to another and the next thing you know we were sitting down to dinner at the Savoy like a proper bunch of 1920s and 30s celebrated smart types.
The Savoy was the first high luxury hotel in Britain in the 19th century, featuring such innovations as running heated water and electricity, and remained the dernier cri of good living. It’s still a byword for class (and a bit of snobbery) and a luxurious time. Frequented by film stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, royals and their various entourages of coutiers and mistresses, sports stars, and artists, not a few favorites of mine have bedded down here. Alas it has had some challenges. A few years ago the hotel closed for a major refit and redecoration, one of the restaurants lost one of its Michelin stars, and business has been tricky in times of austerity. Nevertheless, it was the Savoy – of course we were going to go if we got the chance!
We were served by a marvelously sardonic and sly witted waiter. We weren’t drinking (which surprised him, since the wine and cocktail list is legendary) but he seemed delighted when we ordered mocktails instead because they presented a challenge. Lisa in particular won him by asking for a non-alcoholic surprise from the bartender. He returned with a gorgeous drink whipped up especially for her smelling of fruits and rosewater and named, on the spot when we asked for one, “an Unexpected Pleasure.”
Don’t mind the turtle face, I’m just having a taste of Lisa’s drink. And it was delicious (we were promiscuous with our beverages, sharing sips and straws and probably horrifying the waiters). Clearly we had a great time!
Soups and sauces were poured out onto delicious dishes, crumbs were scraped away with solid silver utensils built just for that purpose, and the bread basket was kept filled with piping hot offerings. We shared foods and deserts without any thought of propriety, swapped deserts and petit fours with one another, compared work and life stories, and debated deeply for two hours before hustling to the theatre.
I walked home across the Thames absolutely cocooned in contentedness.
(Rose had the good sense to bring a proper camera so better photos can be seen on her blog here if you want better close ups of the food. Which you do, trust me.)