Where DW and Aleister Crowley had lunch

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Charles
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Where DW and Aleister Crowley had lunch

Post by Charles » Sat 12 Sep, 2009 22:35:44

I am indebted to the excellent Phil Baker for the following ...

If you go to Piccadilly Circus, and take the Lower Regent Street exit, just below Jermyn Street on the left hand side, part of the Japanese department store Mitsukoshi is being renovated, and is behind a steel screen.

If you look above the screen, they have removed the old facia, and the words "Hungaria Restaurant" can be seen.

This is where DW entertained Aleister Crowley and others - it was one of his favourite haunts.

If you're interested in seeing it, don't delay - the renovation will cover up the old sign before long.

I'll add some photos I took to the Museum's Special Exhibition section on "DW's Homes and other places of DW interest" in due course ...

Again thanks, Phil - brilliant detective work as always !
Charles

Stevie P
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Post by Stevie P » Fri 18 Sep, 2009 09:16:19

This is brilliant news. Do you know how Phil found this out?? Did he know about it before the renovation at Mitsukoshi or did he just happen to see it when the facia was removed.
Now we know the address, perhaps we can get more info about the site i.e land registry. When was the restaurant opened; Who the owners were; How long it was before it was sold and who it was sold to. I still think there is a link between the Hungaria and Justerini's.

I have just got back from hols and haven't purchased Phils book yet but I will do.
Did you get yours from Dedalus? You are no doubt aware that Dedalus are celebrating the publication of Phils book next month.

P.S. With Phil's brilliant sleuthing perhaps we should employ him to locate 'Cardinals Folly' next!!

Charles
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Post by Charles » Fri 18 Sep, 2009 12:59:04

Welcome back, Steve !

Phil knew the general location (i.e. Regent Street), but spotting the facia was pure chance - he happened to be wandering by and saw it, and 'yes', more research is definitely needed.

I wouldn't be surprised if Phil has the odd speculation on the location of Cardinals Folly, but we'll have to wait until the book is published to find out.

Publication is end Oct by the way, so you haven't missed anything.

I still think your account of going into the Peacock pub is one of the most amusing things I've read in a long time. I'm sure the quest hasn't ended ....

All best !
Charles

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Post by shanedwyer » Tue 13 Nov, 2012 08:30:36

I don't know if my resurrecting such a vintage thread will be of much interest to anybody, but the story of DW treating Crowley to a feed at the Hungaria has always captured my imagination. Prosaically enough, I’ve always wondered what they had to eat. Did the menu consist solely of Hungarian recipes or could more reliably stodgy fare be had for Brits who had little appetite for all that paprika and sour cream?

And the whole rise and fall of the restaurant itself fascinates me too. In the 40s and 50s it was at the top of London’s premier league of high class eateries, patronised by aristocrats, visiting Hollywood stars and royalty. It was the backdrop to so much of the capital’s cultural and social history- the Dambusters crew were feted there; the playwright Arnold Wesker was employed in the kitchens as a commis pastry chef; and the first edition of ITV’s flagship current affairs programme This Week was broadcast live from its dining room. And now it’s no more than an obscured facade; part legend and part faded memory: The Troy of chophouses.

But why is this so, why did it disappear so utterly? After all, its similarly fashionable contemporary Quaglino’s is still very much in business. Surely such an iconic and (presumably) profitable concern couldn’t suddenly have tanked and gone out of business overnight. Or did it fade away slowly as tastes changed and rates increased? Like the above poster, I’d be very much interested to hear the story of the Hungaria’s sad decline. Do any of the members of this community know what happened?

shanedwyer
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Post by shanedwyer » Tue 13 Nov, 2012 16:01:16

Well, a search on the Web has turned up an answer to at least one of my questions concerning the Hungaria- that of non-Magyar dishes appearing on the menu. According to the Sydney Sunday Herald, in its report (24th May) on the 1953 London debutante season:

The Hungaria Restaurant, in lower Regent Street, will charge 7 1/2 guineas a head for a dinner of caviar, turtle soup, salmon, stuffed chicken and quail flambeed at table and served on a slice of pineapple, asparagus and fresh strawberries and cream. This charge will include gifts, cabaret and dancing.

Think I’d rather have pie and chips. Unlike a certain thriller writer, I’m not much of an epicure...

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Post by Jim » Wed 14 Nov, 2012 03:11:31

It would have been nice to be able to eat where DW entertained his chums. At least, on one trip to England, I went with friends to Rules, which has been feeding literary and theatrical Londoners for over 200 years.

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Post by shanedwyer » Wed 14 Nov, 2012 12:35:24

I've just had a look at Rule's website. That's some literary heritage all right- what with Dickens, Thackeray and Wells on the guest list. I should think it's almost certain that DW would've popped in there at some time or other. Perhaps to have sampled the oysters he was so fond of.

The menu looks fabulous (I notice they serve steak and kidney pie :D ). How did you find the food Jim? Recommend anything?

Jim
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Post by Jim » Sat 17 Nov, 2012 14:07:37

shanedwyer wrote:I've just had a look at Rule's website. The menu looks fabulous (I notice they serve steak and kidney pie :D ). How did you find the food Jim? Recommend anything?
An American couple I know was going there with mystery writer Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and her husband, and invited me to tag along. Since I had read a few of Cynthia's books, I was happy to do so. My friend's husband had his heart set on one of the fish specials that, for whatever reason, was only served for two--and she'd picked something else. I like fish, and agreed to split with him. The food was fine, though I don't recall anything specific, and it was worth the cost to eat there once...

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Post by Darren » Thu 4 Sep, 2014 21:41:31

Tonight I was reading Three Inquisitive People, and was about half way through chapter 10 when Rex was chatting a girl up at a party and she suggested they leave and go to the Hungaria on Lower Regent Street. As I read this it occurred to me that this location sounded familiar in a DW way.

I later remembered this discussion from 2 years ago in DW's Library. It's great to discover these locations in DW's life appearing in his fiction.

I thought I would share this with you. I will now return to my book. :smt047
Regards,

Darren.

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Post by Darren » Wed 5 Nov, 2014 11:28:47

Stevie P wrote:Margot and Barney also meet each other at the house and they agree to meet for dinner at the Hungaria restaurant. The meal goes reasonably well but Barney believes that Ratnadatta is trying to seduce her using the Occult as a cover. Ratnadatta asks her officially to join his Black Magic Circle.
The above is from Stevie P's excellent recently posted review of The Satanist. I like this connection - did DW mirror fact with fiction? The discussion between DW and AC would presumably have been about Black Magic as well.
Regards,

Darren.

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