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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.
Hors-d’oeuvre à la Russe.
Consommé Brunoise à la Royale.
Potage en tortue.
Suprême de saumon à la Chambord.
Tournedos à la Montgador.
Poularde a la Demi-Doff.
Caille rôti sur canapé.
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 [-42-]
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
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 a 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 [-43-] 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 [-44-] 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.
*** Mr. Francis Taylor has now taken Mons. Diette’s place as manager. Mons. Heiligenstein, as chef rules the roast, and boiled, and fried.