London Sunday: Mass and Lunch

Today was a very rich day. 

It began after a horrific night of nightmarish live band hell next door to the rectory.  It was as if they were in my room…. until 2 am. 

I believe there may have been alcohol involved with the festivities.  And gunpowder.  Lot’s of gunpowder.

Naturally this sort of thing only happens when you have jet lag and the early Sunday Mass.

To make a long story short, Father managed to drag himself up and – with the fortification of a cup of tea … (why Brits think that does it, I don’t know) – celebrate Mass validly with a sermon that was coherent.

But wait, there’s more.

I was after Mass picked up to go to a nearby parish, St. Mary Magdalen, Wandsworth, for a solemn TLM, of their patronal feast (transferred).  The parish priest, Fr. Martin Edwards, kindly invited us to the Mass and then a lunch out at a place called Claridge in Mayfair in central London.

In our chat before hand Fr. Edwards and I figured out that he had been a deacon at my ordination in Rome in 1991.  Small world!

The Mass at St. Mary Magdalen was nicely done, with Puccini’s Messa di Gloria.  This Mass is musically over the top, very lyrical, but sung quite well by a professional choir.  It was well-attended.  Fr. Edwards sang the Mass.

After Mass the clergy – five of us – piled into a car and headed into central London.  Parking having been located, we made our way along to the eatery. 

I was happy to find that the restaurant was one of Gordon Ramsey’s places, his flagship as I understand it.

As we went in, before being seated, I mentioned to the maitre d’ that it would be nice to have a tour of the kitchen.

The entrance, bar area, had a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, which I include here for the opportune knowledge of a particular friend who likes his work.

Lunch consisted of a fixed price menu, of several courses.  The first offerings were accompanied by a Mersault.  I don’t know which, alas.  Later, with a Côtes du Rhône, I sadly don’t know which, I was impressed by a small rather nouveau "lasagna" to use the term loosely, with rabbit, crayfish, and ceps. 

My companions had perhaps the most beautiful Beef Wellington I have ever seen.

This and my entree (not shown – but involving pork belly) included with my approval the famous cuillère à sauce individuelle.  Well worn and useful.

After a little break there came the cheese trolley!  I had a fresh chevre, a Calvados washed Camembert, Époisses de Bourgogne, a ripe sheep cheese in oregano whose name I don’t recall and Stilton.

We chose our cheeses and poured the Port, the name of which was too good not to share.

When it came to desert, I think the restaurant fell down.  We waited for an extreme amount of time for something that is simply not that hard to present: crème brûlée.

Well over a half hour for this course, Chef Ramsey. Tisk!  

When it came, however, it had an appealing lemon and thyme dynamic and was presented with a small amount of strawberry ice cream and peaches.  I think I could do this one.  I liked the way the thyme was handled.

You see this good plate here with my watch because of the extreme amount of time, Chef Ramsey, it took to present it.

By the way… I was goaded into taking the photos.  I didn’t have to be goaded too hard, but I was goaded. 

This is when the assistant manager came out and offered to take us back to the kitchen and show us around.

Here is a shot of the real core of the place.

I always like a tour of the kitchen.

Afterward we has some coffee, and I some cognac (Lascaux, just for the cave-man part of my usual dining habits), and petit fours. 

Then off we went!

Back to my humble rental…

Just kidding. This was parked on the street nearby and… well… it’s just really a beautiful set of wheels, for a Bentley, that is.

Back to the rectory of St. Bede’s with the crew for some fraternal time. 

It has been a very long day and I am bone tired.  But we returned home, tired but happy.

I am deeply grateful to Fr. Edwards – with whom I have that connection from long ago – for the beautiful Mass, the wonderful lunch, the great company and conversation!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, My View, SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Okay, Fr. Edwards wins. My invitation to the Lamb and Flag Oxon. cannot at all compete with Gordon Ramsay and the ’99 Vale do inferno!



  2. Peter says:

    Just a side question: does anybody know if Gordon Ramsey is Catholic? He often crosses himself before he eats on his TV shows.

  3. Denis: No competition is expected! I quite like the Lamb and Flag. The Eagle and Child too!

  4. Jack (UK) says:

    OK Ok London wins hands down, the humble offerings of Browns (Bristol) cannot hope to compete with claridges :)

  5. Pseudomodo says:

    I think Gordon Ramsay crosses himself in case he gets poisoned at one of the restaurants he is doing a makeover for!

    Imagine Father, just imagine if his patrons ordered meals using the same naughty language he subjects everyone to during his career! He would toss them out.

    Good chef though…

  6. If that’s all they have for kitchen staff for that restaurant, no wonder the creme brulee took that long!

    I will pray for the suffering priests who may have to listen to that live band every night.

    Nice car! LOL!

  7. MargaretMN says:

    calvados washed Camembert? That sounds delightful. I wonder if it can be replicated…

  8. Matt Q says:

    What a wonderful trip so far, Father. The Mass, the reconnecting with the past, and now being able to eat at Gordon Ramsey’s very own restaurant! So cool. I think it’s about time the Prime Minister submits his name to The Queen for a KCBE medal. :-)

    = = = = =

    Peter wrote:

    “Just a side question: does anybody know if Gordon Ramsey is Catholic? He often crosses himself before he eats on his TV shows.”


    It would be great if he is. I hope his faith is stronger than his mouth, every other word being a beep. Yikes. LOL

    I wonder if a lot of that is just for show–ratings for the program, but he does give credit when it’s due. He is an amazing restauranteur.

  9. Stephen M says:

    Before he was a chef, he was going to be a professional football player for Glasgow Rangers!!! I think that says it all – Catholic – no chance.

  10. Kradcliffe says:

    I Googled “cuillère à sauce individuelle” and got no joy. What is it and why is there a notch in it?

  11. Kradcliffe: I actually did a little research on that notch and entertained some correspondence with a fellow Donald Norman involved in the reasons behind designs of useful objects.

    I suspect there is no reason for the notch other than to make the spoon look more interesting and to catch your attention so that you seize upon it in dim light rather than some less well suited tool.

  12. tecumseh says:

    We had sausage and chips, here in Lourdes. After the Traditional Latin Mass in the Basillica of the Immaculate Conception , we went to the Lancaster Diocesan Mass and had frights. I think that is the phrase the French use for the condition we found ourselves in after ¨Mass¨

  13. irishgirl says:

    That ‘scultpture’ looks like somebody’s hair!

    Food looked pretty good, too.

    The car-yeah, you were pulling our legs there, Fr. Z!

    Nice picture of you in the restaurant!

    Sorry about the idiots’ ‘music’ waking you up at night…grrr…that would make anyone cranky in the morning!

    Ahh London…brings back memories of my own trips there!

  14. Ohio Annie says:

    Gordon Ramsey should be drowned in one of his snooty sauces. (I am being uncharitable). I am so sick of the bleeping bleepity bleep. I change the channel to something more erudite like The Simpsons or King of the Hill.

  15. T. Chan says:

    Gordon Ramsay is “old school” when it comes to running his kitchen and motivating others, in the same way drill instructors used to be in the military.

  16. thereseb says:

    Schools here in South London are generally oversubscribed, with frantic parents “paying fees on their knees” to get their children into them, because they outshine state schools in the league tables. A school that closes does so because parents have lost faith in its performance because of mismanagement, and subsequent loss of academic rigour – and it cannot be turned round.

    Parishes only shut in this part of London when the nature of the neighbourhood changes and predominantly Catholic racial groups (such as the Irish or Italians)disperse and move out to the suburbs, leaving local housing to be filled by non-catholic immigrants. The other reason parishes shut is lack of vocations. Priests are human beings, and human beings deserve a treat from time to time, when they are on-call 24 hours a day, and doing God’s work. Fr Z, in addition to his other work provides valuable information and encouragement to those considering vocations via this blog. Perhaps those considering a vocation might be put off by comments like Andrew’s. Then how will we fill those empty parishes that Andrew thinks can be funded from a foregone restaurant bill?

  17. Patrick says:

    Look terrific!

    Have you ever been to Fergus Henderson’s restaurant, St. John? It is supposed to be exceptional British cooking with plenty of organ meats and odd fare.

    His cookbook (“Nose to Tail”, I think) is a fun read.

  18. Rev. Philip-Michael says:

    It is a little known fact but one of the best kept secrets in London…”St Mary Magdalen’s in Wandsworth and its beautiful liturgy”!!!

  19. Pseudomodo says:


    The Royal Exchange pub in Paddington Area (St. Michaels and Sale Pl.) – the best roast beastie and Yorkshire pudding. Tiny but good, like my wife.

    St. Stephens Tavern on Bridge and Parliament St. next to Big Ben, excellent old world pub.

  20. Crazy Man says:

    Regardless if he is Catholic or not, on one of his US based tv shows he was “hearing” confessions of people working in a restaurant who didn’t get along with each other quite well, family if I remember correct. The whole thing was bad as it was in what appeared to be a Catholic Church sanctuary.

  21. quodvultis says:

    Ohio Annie — 20 July 2009 @ 12:13 pm:

    Hear, hear! If I have any choice, I will never dine at one of Gordan Ramsay’s establishments. He is not a gentleman, not even of any kind.

  22. Joanne says:

    Cute photo!

  23. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    Crazy man, i saw that one, the restaurant was a converted former oratory which had the original confessional intact. *gaack*

  24. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    “In the course of his teaching [Jesus] said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.

    They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.'”

    Mark 12:38-40

    Mutatis mutandis, today some of them wear birettas and offer the Holy Mass.

  25. Apparently we have to rub gravel through our hair.

    Don’t mind this, much, folks. These are the some types, usually not quite right in the head, who think that it food tastes good, or is beautifully presented it must be evil. Lay a chive across a plate of chicken with potatoes… eeeeevil. Have some spices in your food? Ooooo. Whatever you do, don’t enjoy your food or company.

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