Monday, 21 December 2009


To Mayfair to shop at my favourite jeweller, Wright & Teague, and then onto The Guinea on Bruton Lane for lunch. The Guinea is one of those staunchly old-fashioned pubs, probably Victorian, very small with the bar in the middle, and little benches all around the walls. It has tartan carpet and woodwork with treacly varnish. It hasn't been gastro-pubbed, and its clientele is still largely male, old buffers in Crombie overcoats (at the back of the pub is the Guinea Grill, serving meat) and young Tory boys with signet rings and striped shirts. It also boasts the Mirabeau, an amazing steak sandwich. I was wary of eating said sandwich because I was wearing a red silk crepe blouse and whenever I wear a garment like that, I tend to spill something oily on it. As it was, the Mirabeau was "off", but - joy of joys! - the steak & kidney pie was ON.

Pies done well are delicious. Pies down well washed down with a pint of Guinness are even better. The Guinea's steak & kidney pie had a crisp crust, the pastry flavoured with herbs and brushed with butter. Underneath its lid was tender steak and juicy kidneys in a rich gravy. It was peppery and comforting, just to the thing for a cold day in December. The pub filled up and more pies were served, but there was shopping to be done, a trip to Fenwick's and a duck to buy for Christmas Eve. I left reluctantly: it's ages since I've been to a proper pub.

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