Monday, December 05, 2011

Hidden London 3 - Oscar Wilde was arrested here, Lillie Langtry made love here


I was at Kettners on Saturday for a lovely authors' Christmas get-together lunch complete with Secret Santa. I was hoping for Kate Harrison's YA novel Soul Beach but scored well with Sarah Duncan's Another Woman's Husband and James Roberston's And The Land Lay Still.

Kettners is a massive white building in the heart of theatreland, yet it still manages to be hidden somehow. I walked right past it at first, and I don't think many Londoners know of its remarkable history. Well, I didn't. For all I knew it was still a pizza place (it used to be Pizza Express's flagship restaurant). It's now (and probably has been for decades) (no, just looked it up, since 2009) a very pretty, friendly restaurant, reasonably priced too considering the food, service, ambience and its West End situation. There's also a very elegant champagne bar with house wine prices the same as my local pub.

The history bit is all on the menu. It was opened by Napoleon's chef in 1867 and used to host incredibly glamorous parties (as indeed it still does). People who've dined there include Bing Crosby, Agatha Christie, Lillie Langtry and Oscar Wilde used to take his rent boys there. Oh and, just remembered, the last time I was there in its pizza days, Paul Weller passed us on the stairs!

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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