A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Simpson's in the Strand

Many years ago I bought a postcard from Simpson's in the Strand. It was from the 1920's and when I picked up another from the 1930's I became curious. The history of Simpson's is fascinating. It was opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house. In an effort to avoid disturbing the chess games in progress, they began placing large joints of meat on silver-domed trolleys and wheeling them to guests tables where they were then carved. It is a custom that continues to this day. Another thing that makes it distinctive has come down from one of the earliest chefs - the ironclad rule that all food served be British. My guide book describe's it as "an unchanging bastion of upper crust Britishness
beloved for its roast beef and soggy veg."

I planned to treat myself to a meal at Simpson's when I was in London in 2009. Every time I came out of my hotel, I looked across the street at the elegant entry and told myself I would do so. Somehow, I could never work up enough nerve to walk, all by myself, into this bastion of Britishness.

On this trip, I did my research and decided that my daughter and I would have breakfast there. We could order just one Great British Breakfast (Cumberland sausage, streaky and back bacon, Stornoway black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato & egg (fried, poached or scrambled, tea or coffee, toast, Orange Juice) and another side of something and then share it. The Great British breakfast alone comes in at about $30. I was not prepared to spend $60 for breakfast.
Even split in half, there was plenty for both of us.
Everything was wonderful. It was the best black pudding either of us had ever had, the coffee was wonderful, and the butter was so good it could have been eaten with a spoon.

Simpson's open for breakfast at 7:15 and we were there about 8:  There were only two other people in the restaurant - a rather posh young woman and the waiter. He was a rather dour character with a straight-lipped little smile when we did something he approved of - like when we both declined any ketchup, and a pointed comment when he disapproved - like when I asked for decaf coffee.
Absolutely every thing in the room was first class and beautiful...and well-lit.

And so, at last, I have joined the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Not to mention Scott of the Antarctic, who had his last meal here before setting off on his ill-fated journey, or Charles and Di, whose last public appearance was here.

That big revolving door was not nearly so intimidating going out as it had been going in.

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