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Perfect as the arrangements appear to be for the reception of the productions of all nations,—“ London and Liverpool at Table : how to dine and order a dinner,” will perhaps be received by strangers as an acceptable contribution.
It is not necessary, in this enlightened age, to denounce the licentiousness of the Romans, which foreshadowed the decline and fall of the empire ; while, on the other hand, it is pardonable to hold with the great lexicographer, Dr. Johnson, “ that cookery is one of the arts that aggrandise life; and that the masticational duties are those that we ought carefully to attend to."
ven the Miser, in Moliere, says "you must eat to live, and not live to eat.”
The abundant means of living, and of food provided for the use of the human race, is as follows :-"Every herb bearing seed,” say the Scriptures, “and every tree which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed, was given to man;" and to Noah and his sons the words went forth, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb have I given you all things." But mark well, reader, these abundant gifts were for man's use, and not for man's abuse.
Strangers in London, with money at command to dine when, where, and how it may suit their fancy, can always gratify their propensities in reason, but those whose palate is their only thought, must be left to the self-inflicted torments which their voluptuousness and selfishness are sure to entail.
In London, how and where to dine must, in a great measure, depend on the day's and evening's amusement. If business require attendance in the city, or pleasure to the opera or theatre, a spot suitable to the neighbourhood should be selected If the digestive organs are somewhat impaired, a light French dinner is preferable to a substantial English one; if, on the contrary, a man has been taking strong exercise all day, and has the appetite of a Saxon, our indigenous dishes of beef-steaks and mutton chops will be duly appreciated, and can be obtained at a moderate price at any of the numerous restaurants and chop-houses which now abound.
To a party made up in a hurry to go to the theatre, nothing can be better than “ Clunn's Hotel,” in Covent Garden.
The stranger cannot go wrong in ordering a clear soup; the freshest fish of the day (for it ought to be an invariable rule never to order any particular fish, but to name what is preferred, leaving it to the fishmonger to send the latest arrival from the sea-side); a plain joint, with a marrow bone, or oyster toast when in season, and no sweets.
The “Blue Posts,” in Cork Street, is a very snug place during the winter for a dinner of four, in the small private parlour on the ground floor. For fish, a rump steak, and boiled beef, it cannot be surpassed; the wives are good, and the gin-punch perfection. The two coffeerooms are extremely convenient for parties wishing their dinner in a hurry. The rooms are primitive and characteristic. The joints are artistically carved in the room by the waiter, and not jagged about “dogs's meat fashion” by the guests; the port wine is brought up in the “ black bottle,” by which means the quantity, if not the quality, is supplied. This is honest-provided the bottle is imperial measure and not one of the cheap wine merchant's bottles, that run sixteen to what twelve fair jurymen's bottles are only intended by act of parliament to hold; that is, where one dozen is charged when the purchaser only receives nine in reality.
The City Chop Houses, for a chop, or a steak, or a “cut direct” from the joint, with well boiled mealy potatoes, and excellent porter, are very good; and excellent wine in wood is to be had at the London Bridge Shades.
To return to the West End. The “Clarendon” and “Grillion's” are most celebrated, both in the coffee and private rooms. Some “ Nuggets,” as the fast young men of the day term “money,” are necessary, if an unlimited order be given; but a dinner in the best style can be had at a proportionate cost, and with more satisfaction to all parties. All depends on the order given per head. This remark equally applies to Greenwich, Blackwall, and Richmond.
A want of long standing still exists in London and that is, the difficulty of finding Restaurants where strangers of the gentler sex may be taken to dine. It is true that some have been opened where gentlemen may take their wives and daughters; but it has not yet become a recognised custom, although at Blackwall, Greenwich, Hampton Court, Windsor, Slough, Richmond, ladies are to be found as in the Parisian Cafés, and in London at “Verey's,” in Pall Mall and Regent Street; but to give a private dinner with ladies, it is necessary to go to the “ Albion" or “ London Tavern,” where nothing can exceed the magnificence of the rooms. The waiting is perfection; price in accordance to the order given per head.
The club houses of London will naturally attract the attention and curiosity of strangers. Addison, in the “Spectator,” describes the clubs of his day; and although the description may appear to be a little exaggerated, it will furnish some insight into the origin of the reunions of more than one hundred and fifty years ago.
“Man is said to be a social animal; and as an instance of it we may observe, that we take all occasions and pretences of forming ourselves into those little nocturnal assemblies, which are commonly known by the name of clubs. When a set of men find themselves agree in any particular, though never so trivial, they establish themselves into a kind of fraternity, and meet once or twice a week upon the account of such a fantastic resemblance. I know a considerable market town in which there was a club of fat men, that did not come together (as you may well suppose) to entertain one another with sprightliness and wit, but to keep one another in countenance. The room where the club met was something of the largest, and had two entrances, one by a door of moderate size, and the other by a pair of folding doors. If a candidate for this corporate club could make his entrance through the first, he was looked upon as unqualified ; but if he stuck in the passage, and could not force his way through it, the folding doors were immediately thrown open for his reception, and he was saluted as a brother."
The first Club House in this country was the Athenæum, established at Liverpool by the celebrated Mr. Roscoe. It was opened on the first of January, 1800, with a coffee-room, reading-room, and library, limited to 500 members. Each member was obliged to become a proprietor of a share, and to pay an annual subscription. Two years' arrears of subscription involved the forfeiture of the share, which reverted to the Club, and was sold to a new member. The shares are property, and can be sold on the death or retirement of a proprietor. By this mode of raising the capital the Club started clear of any mortgage debt, and the annual income was secured for
In course of time the coffee-room was given up. The Library has cost £20,000, and contains many rare books, while the reading room is quite equal to that of any
modern London Club. In 1815 Lord Lynedock paid a visit to Liverpool, and was greatly struck with the Laws of the Institution, which are a modification of the written constitution of the United States. He requested to be furnished with a copy, intending to establish a similar Club in London for military and naval officers ; the result was the “ Senior United Service Club." The “ Athenæum,"
Travellers," and others, too numerous to mention, followed.
Mr. Walker, the celebrated author of the “Original,”