West Street, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Dickens’s Dictionary of London, An Unconventional Handbook – Charles Dickens [Jr.], 1882:
Restaurants.– A very few years ago the expectant dinner, who required, in the public rooms of London, something better than a cut off the joint, or a chop, or steak, would have had but a limited number of tables at his command. A really good dinner was almost entirely confined to the regions of club-land, and, with one or two exceptions, resectable restaurants, to which a lady could be taken, may be said hardly to have existed at all. Artful seekers after surreptitious good dinners who knew their London well, certainly had some foreign houses in the back settlements of Soho or of Leicester-square, to which they pinned their faith, but the restaurant, as it has been for many years understood in Paris, practically had no place in London.
[The picture above is of one of the mullioned windows in the famous Ivy restaurant in West Street, WC2. It was opened in 1917 by Abel Glandellini and Maître d’Hôtel Mario Gallati as a modest cafe serving the theatre community. Over the years it has had various redevelopments resulting in the dining room we, or at least those of us that are connected or famous enough to be able to secure a booking, know today. Apparently the walls are adorned with artworks by the likes of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley, and Patrick Caulfield, to name but a few. R.D.]