Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cheap Eats in London Town

London is becoming a very expensive place to eat these days. But recently we found an oasis of cheap eats - the Royal Overseas League restaurant in St. James. How we found out about this place is a story in itself. April is a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society and we frequently dine at their modern restaurant located on Northumberland Avenue. This is a veritable oasis of quiet and good cuisine, a place where you can hold and hear a good conversation while enjoying excellent food.

So we booked a table (or rather, the hotel concierge booked a table) and five of us piled into a cab and off we went. To a closed down club building (closed for renovations in August). On the door, in small print, a notice advised us that members could enjoy reciprocal membership at the Royal Overseas League. Joke - the ROL's club was yards away from our hotel, necessitating another cab journey back to St. James.

We entered the lobby and felt we were entering one of those time warps that Hollywood can conjure up. Art Deco style furnishings suggested that the place hadn't seen more than a fresh coat of paint or two since the 1920s. Then we entered the brasserie restaurant where our table was reserved. Everything about the place felt somewhere between 1920 and 1950, including the menu and the service. For the four of us who grew up in the 1950s this was interesting, for the fifth member of our party, a Frenchman from Bordeaux, this must have been a complete culture shock, a venture into the unknown, a journey into the kitchen of a mad Englishman!

The menu was indeed a throwback - sausage and mash, £6.95. In St. James, London!