In the seventies, I would lunch with colleagues at The Waldforf Hotel in the Aldwych. In the basement was The Westminster Room which specialised in Old English Cuisine. The masterpiece was Turkey Moult and Mushroom Pie. They also served Baron of Beef and Saddle of Lamb.
In The Westminster Room, one could order a Beef Pot-roast.
Here is a recipe:
1.4 kilos of Topside of Beef, 2 large onions, 3 cloves, a bayleaf, 2 tablespoons of flour, 275mls stock, 50 grams melted butter, 225 grams carrot, sliced, 1 Swede, diced, a half teaspoon of thyme, a clove of crushed garlic, salt and pepper and 150mls of Red wine. Mushrooms.
Fry the meat in the butter to brown it on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Fry the vegetables in the butter until they start to brown. Transfer the vegetables into a large casserole. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the thyme and garlic.
Add the stock and the red wine. Cover the casserole. Cook in the pre-heated over, 180 degrees for two hours. For the last twenty minutes, remove the lid of the casserole to brown the meat. At the same time, add the mushrooms.
Years later, we would go to the Waldorf at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, to discuss future productions. There we could sample the tea and cakes that were on offer during the Tea Dance. We had music to accompany our tea. We were offered crumpets, various buns, cakes and scones with jam and cream. We were told that the design of the tea/dance room was a copy of an ocean liner, but I cannot remember which one.
Some gentlemen from the Middle East invited me to lunch at their hotel. It was the Dorchester. It was quite an experience to eat fine food well cooked and presented, washed down with the finest wines. I sat there knowing that I was experiencing something special. It was difficult to concentrate on the conversation.
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