Sauternes custard with Armagnac soaked prunes
BOULES TIN M
y grandfather, supposedly, named my mother Virginia, whose name I also share, after a visit to London in the 1920s when he met the author, Virginia Woolf, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of writers, artists and intellectuals. The original Boulestin, then known as the most expensive restaurant in London, opened in 1927 and closed its doors in 1943. When it reopened in 2013, I dined there with a friend and he, appropriately, came in a tweed jacket that once belonged to his father who, supposedly, wore it when he lunched there in the 1930s. Whether true or not, I don’t know, but it made a good story. It’s been almost two years since I dined there and again with the same friend. This new Boulestin is a short walk from the original and includes on the menu the 1927 version of the dishes served at the time. Food was important to the
Bloomsbury group as noted in the letters exchanged between them. We sipped a glass of champagne while we studied the menu which didn’t seem historic, but then perhaps the food we eat now is not so different from the 1920s. I decided on ‘oeuf en gelee’ and my friend a fish soup. The ‘oeuf en glee’ was a glow of yolk with a touch of what I think was tarragon and about the best I ever had. His soup was bits and pieces of delicious fish with a ‘hint’ of garlic so strong that l made him decide not to return to the office that afternoon. From what I read about the Bloomsbury group, if they’d decided to take the afternoon off, garlic would not have been a reason. As I never cook liver at home, I ordered the liver and bacon served over thinly sliced potatoes and melting yellowish cooked onions. Delicious. My friend had steak that he wanted dark on the outside and red in the center. It came as he
Soupe de Poissons
5 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1EF
Reviewed by Virginia Schultz desired, I might add. For dessert I settled on vanilla ice cream, but my friend had Custard with Armagnac soaked prunes which our waiter assured us Virginia Woolf would have enjoyed. Frankly, next time I am having the same dessert. All in all, there was little change from two hundred and fifty pounds. It was expensive, but then eating in any major city anywhere does put a dent in one’s budget even in the States. Undoubtedly, Virginia Woolf could have afforded the meal which included champagne and a lovely bottle of French red wine. Would she have enjoyed the food and felt at home with the restaurant’s atmosphere? I think she would. Erratum: Gremlins in the May-June issue put the wrong address for The Arch hotel. The correct address is 50 Great Cumberland Place, London W1H 7FD www. thearchlondon.com - and a lovely place it is too!