Wednesday, January 8, 2020
This may look like a stately official building, or maybe a museum, but it's not. It's a Pizza Express restaurant.
It wasn't always a Pizza Express, though. It's the gateway to the courtyard of a building called The Pheasantry in Chelsea. Dating from the mid-19th century (on the site of some earlier structures that have since been demolished), the building housed an upholstery, carpeting and design firm, and later became a ballet academy run by a great-niece of Leo Tolstoy. (There's a blue plaque on the wall to that effect.) Famous denizens of the ballet world studied there, such as Dame Margot Fonteyn.
It then became "a bohemian restaurant and drinking club," according to Wikipedia, frequented by the likes of Dylan Thomas (is there a bar he didn't patronize?), Francis Bacon, Anthony Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart. Eric Clapton and Germaine Greer lived upstairs in the '60s.
It was also a music venue, and remains one today.
It's an impressive entranceway, don't you think? If you want more detail about the history of the building, here's an interesting blog post full of old photos, including some showing the place looking pretty decrepit around 1970. I'm glad it has bounced back, and I'm tempted to go there for pizza sometime just to check it out.
Pizza might have been a good option last night. Dave and I decided to order out for dinner -- he'd been at the hospital in the afternoon getting one of his regular infusions to treat his Crohn's disease, and he understandably didn't want to cook. (I volunteered, but he didn't want me to cook either. I wonder why?)
We ended up ordering sushi, and I tried something new -- two pieces of shrimp nagiri that, to me, tasted faintly dubious. I suspected I'd be up all night, but as it turned out, everything was fine. I slept like a log, and so did my stomach.