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Dining Out Guide To Wartime London

June 2024
1min read

Eat Where The Locals Go

In May of 1944 I was serving aboard a destroyer escort, accompanying convoys from the United States to England. On one trip I had an opportunity to visit London for a few days with two shipmates, a great adventure for us. A service organization provided us with a young English guide who took us on a walking tour of the historic sights. We asked her to recommend a restaurant for our evening meal, and she named one on a small side street just off Piccadilly Circus.

Not knowing that the British seldom dine before eight o’clock, we went to the restaurant just after six. The place was devoid of customers but it had everything we could ask for: wooden beams, dim lighting, a long bar, and an entertaining waiter with plenty of time for us. When we ordered oysters, he said in his Cockney accent, “I’m sorry, fellows. I’ve got 18 left, but I’m saving them for Winnie, er, Winston Churchill. He’s ordered those for this evening.”

Who were we to deprive the great man of his oysters? We settled for something else. While we were drinking White Horse and waiting for our food, a man walked in dressed in chauffeur’s livery and a leather-brimmed cap. He spoke briefly to the waiter, who went into the kitchen and came out with a small package. The chauffeur left, and the waiter came over to our table. “I say, fellows, Winnie only wanted 12 oysters tonight, so I’ve got 6 left. Do you still want them?”

How many people can say that they dined on Winston Churchill’s oysters?

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