Floral Frascati Restaurant, London
Frascati’s at 32 Oxford Street, London was celebrated for its cosmopolitanism, luxury and excellent cuisine and was a sumptuous and elegant venue that was highly regarded for its international cuisine.
Opening in 1893 Frascati grew to be an institution with its large, fashionable clientele, and was also a favoured venue among businessmen from London and the regions which was a sure sign that it produced good food and comfort.
The façade with a large frontage was renovated in the late 20s comprised a handsome gold portico with gold metal work framing the large windows and thousands of sheets of gold leaf were used. One entered via a yellow and gold revolving door into a spacious vestibule or lounge area with thick red pile carpets with futurist patterns, vividly coloured brocade settees and brocade curtains and large gilt chandeliers replaced old crystal ones.
On the right of the lounge was the Grill Room with large open charcoal grills. The central space was the actual main restaurant which was a spectacular and immense room called the Winter Garden that rose to a huge glass dome and also had a wide balcony that overlooked the space below. There was simply nothing like it in London and the architect built one other edifice rather resembling it in Amsterdam. On the ground floor there were two other large offshoot rooms – quite restaurants in themselves in size.
Frascati was also a popular place for banquets and dinners and there were numerous private rooms for private functions including the Louis XIV Salon or Alexandra Hall. Also, since the manager Mr W.G. Cox was an enthusiastic Freemason, it was a favoured place of Freemasons and allegedly contained a well-appointed Masonic Temple. Since he was also past president of the Gastronomic Society (a society for heads of the chief hotels, restaurants and clubs), the Gastronomes hold their monthly dinner there.
The magnificent décor was in gold and silver throughout and all the chairs in the Winter Garden, the Balcony and the Grill were leather seated and backed. The proprietors of Frascati prided itself on its flowers and floral decorations are everywhere arranged in vases around pillars, on tables, in the lounge and in the window boxes and hanging baskets outside. Frascati’s usually treat St. George’s Day (23rd April) as a special event and the place became a bower of red roses everywhere and a gala dinner was given.
There was a wonderful orchestra and dancing took place on the uncarpeted dance floor that is shaped like a banjo following the round of the balcony and extending into one of the restaurant wings.
The Head Chef in the 1920s was Jules Matagne, a substantial Belgian, who had been chef to the late King Leopold of Belgians, and had spent a good deal of his life in France and never attempted to learn English. The cuisine prided itself on many things and was continental in flavour and one of the restaurants features was its trout tank. During the mid 1920s, one could dine there modestly for lunch or dinner with a set table d’hote lunch served on the balcony for 4s 6d and dinner 7s 6d. There was also a more elaborate a la carte menu
One menu from the late 1920s for the 19th Annual Banquet for the Gastronomes comprised Les Perles de Whitstable; Le Consommé Ollio or La Crème Souveraine; Les Filets de Sole Concorde; La Ruche Financiere; Les Coeurs de Palmier l’Orientale; Les Supremes de Perdreau Sans nom la Salade Lelia; La Parfait de Foie Gras and La Durprise Frascat Mignardises.
Frascati’s endured through the 1930s but seemingly was destroyed during the Second World War.
All images and text © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club and must not be re-used without prior consent
The Restaurants of London by Eileen Hooton-Smith (1928)
London Restaurants by Diner-Out (1924)
Information and some pictures from Dario De Sanctis with thanks