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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.
OEufs à la Russe.
Soufflé de filets de sole à la Verrey.
Noisettes d’agneau à la Princesse.
Petits pois à la Française.
Aiguillettes de caneton à l’Orange.
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
The soup, admirably hot, had been placed [-55-] 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 oeufs 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 [-56-] 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, beet-root, 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 Jouet 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’oeuvre, 1s.; potage, 1s. 6d.; poisson, 3s.; entrées, 2s. 6d. and 3s.; pornmes, 6d. ; legumes, 1s. ; rôti, 10s. 6d. salade, 1s.; entremets, 3s.; café, 1s.; liqueur, 2s.; [-57-] cigarettes, 2d.; Perrier Jouet, 1889, 13s.; total, £2:4:2.
*** 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 oeufs
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 a 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
OEufs à la Kavigote
Bisque d’écrevisses. Consommé Okra.
Rougets à la Muscovite.
Selle de mouton de Galles.
Haricots panachés. Tomates au gratiri.
Fonds d’artichauts. Crème pistache.
Biscuit glacé à la Verrey.
Soufflé de laitances.
[-58-] Mr. Krehl gave me the recette of the timbales à la Lucullus. Here it is—
La garniture Lucullus se compose de: crétes de coq, rognons de coq, truffes en lames, quenelles de volaille truffées, champignons, foie gras dans une demi-glace bien reduite, un filet de madère, et un jus de truffes.
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.
1Or a glaze which has not been boiled down so as to make it a very stiff jelly.