London - Publications - Etiquette and Advice Manuals - Dinners and Diners, by
Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899 - Chapter 15 - The Trocadero (Shaftesbury
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THE TROCADERO (SHAFTESBURY AVENUE)
I DINED one day early last week at the Trocadero, a little specially—ordered
tête-a-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 Moet ‘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 [-109-]
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 reception had been a gallant Australian
Lancer. Then I asked him what he thought of it, and he said he thought it was
Mr Alfred Salmon, in chief command, and the
good-looking maitre 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 [-110-] 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 sevenand-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’oeuvre,
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.
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
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 [-112-] 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 StHubert 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 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’oeuvre variés.[-113-] Poularde de Surrey à
Consommé Monte Carlo. Potage vert-pré.
Petites Soles à la Florentine. Blanchailles au citron.
Filets mignons à la Rachel.
Petites bouchées a la St-Hubert.
Asperges nouvelles. Sauce mousseux.
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.;
tabled’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 [-114-]
said he had heard that the Empire was jolly good.
*** 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 a
la Orientale, potage Rodisi, soles à la Clover, côtelettes de saumon a la
Nantua, chapon de Bresse à la Trocadéro, poularde à la Montique, selle
d’agneau à la Lyon a’or, salade d’Orsay, asperges nouvelles
Milanaises form a little list from which an admirable dinner could be
These are the recettes of suprême
de sole Trocadéro and Saddle of Lamb à
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 [-115-] 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 threequarters 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.