I'm currently reading Matthew Sweet's The West End Front, The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels. It's a terrific book: the blurb on the back reads: "A Lost World of Scandal, Intrigue and Fortitude...The Ritz, The Savoy, Dorchester and Claridge's- during the Second World War, each was a kind of Casablanca. Their bedrooms, hallways and grillrooms teemed with Spies, Con-Artists, Deposed Royals and the exiled governments of Europe..."
This is all very Patrick Hamilton:
In 1941, the Food (Restrictions on Meals in Establishments) order came into force. All restaurants were required to offer a three course dinner or lunch for no more than five shillings a head, although luxury foods (such as lobster, caviar and oysters) could still be supplied with a surcharge. Young officers, home on leave, could take their girls to The Ritz, Dorchester or Savoy for a very reasonable sum; and as a result, these hotel restaurants became extremely buzzy places indeed.
I've always been fond of The Savoy, ever since my father took me there at the age of eighteen (or was it twenty one?) to savour my first Dry Martini at the American Bar, as mixed by the legendary Peter Dorelli. Remember that back in the 60's and early 70's my father used to handle the advertising for the Booth's Gin account, so he was rather up on this sort of thing.
The Savoy Hotel, incidentally, has very recently been completely re-vamped in a multi-million pound make-over by the Canadian group, Fairmont. I've no time for this: the reproduction paintings are truly dreadful- an insult to your intelligence; it probably never occured to the re-vampers that actually, this or that painting is really rather famous, and as it's currently in the so-and-so museum or gallery, the Savoy Hotel version is obviously not going to be the real-thing. And anyone with an eye is going to realise immediately that the textures and colours are all wrong, wrong, wrong.
Let's move on, before I start shouting at my computer screen (this seems to be happening more and more as I get older, it's a horribly unattractive trait, I do realise). So I've pulled out of my bookcase Anton Edelmann's The Savoy Cookbook, a worthy thing published by Pavilion. I like the sound of their "Marmite and Cream Cheese Sandwiches":
You take four slices of thin white bread (Waitrose stock this), and then spread two slices with Marmite very sparsley. You spread the cream cheese (ie Philadelphia) on the other two slices of bread, and then combine the two pieces of bread. The crusts are cut off, and each sandwich cut into three equal fingers.
Note the curious fact that The Savoy cut their sandwiches into fingers, not triangles. I've rabbited on about this before- it's one of the Great Truths of Life.