Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mr. Chow’s…great food, great chairs

It was the 60’s in London; the Americans are here, at least in the ad business…also the film business.

The only time the two American communities met was in Hyde Park on Sunday mornings.

There was a softball field reserved for Americans, a reward I think for something we did a while back.

Every Sunday there was a soft ball game played by the movie guys, we came to watch, at least I never saw the ad guys playing ball.

The film being made in England at the time always determined the players.

The best game I saw was when the film “The Dirty Dozen” was being made.
Everybody was there that morning, including Mohamed Ali; I think he was still Cassius Clay then. A great day, a good game, then the Sunday ritual continued, across the road to Mr. Chows in Knightsbridge.

Mr. Chows was a popular restaurant and very“ trendy,” a nice 60’s word. Trattorias were very popular in London during the 60’s, so were Chinese restaurants, Michael Chow combined the two, Italian waiters serving Chinese food made by Chinese cooks, both groups were very vocal and emotional and could not understand each other which made for the basic entertainment of the place, lots of yelling and arm waving in short bursts.

Sunday Lunch was the ritual, we would go after the game with some friends and our young son for a great lunch, and every table had various members of the film and ad community. The really famous and the ones that thought we were famous, remember it was London in the 60’s.

Food as usual was terrific and we never found out what that fried green stuff was, seaweed, parsley, still have no idea. Everyone enjoyed the drama of watching a Chinese chef make fresh noodles in front of us all with flair and abandon. The Italian waiters did their little number blaming the Chinese cooks about something or other, lots of checking out the real celebrities…a normal Sunday lunch.

We had invited our group to our house later that afternoon for “ TEA”, our version of it…a bit English, a bit American…and maybe slightly Greek.

I suddenly realized that we didn’t really have any chairs that we liked around our Eames table at home. I always liked the chairs in Mr. Chow, Michael, the owner was there and I asked him where he got his bentwood chairs, and he said Czechoslovakia, or maybe Romania and laughed.

He told me he had some in the basement, about 50 extra ones…that was all I needed to know. Negotiations started.

“ Michael I need 6, I need them now.”
“ I can’t sell my chairs.”
“ Come on Michael…we invited people over for tea.”

20 minutes more and we agreed…I think I paid nine pounds a chair.

The chairs were cheaper than lunch for six.
We had all come in my R type Bentley, it was London in the 60’s after all.

I told the doorman to get a cab for us; we loaded the chairs in the cab and told him to follow us.
Off we went, six people in my Bentley and six chairs in a cab following us.

We still have those chairs, they have traveled the world with us and now my daughter has them.

When you go to a restaurant and you like the food, look around maybe there is something else you want to take home with you.

Take out chairs…I have to try it again, there is a Greek taverna with terrific chairs near us, come to think of it the tables aren’t so bad either.


  1. Hyde Park on Sunday mornings, movie stars, silly glitz and glamor and great meal's at Mr. Chow's.....It was a small part of what was quite a time. We lived it, we loved it.

  2. Great story beautifully written. Very funny and seems like wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing. Must have been great times.

  3. I love those chairs! They were, as the table they sit around, a great part of our childhood. I remember Justine and I would crawl through the back of them to sit! We never schooched them out from the table. I will not give those up! The table - that's the next story you need to write! How many dogs have sat under it for a meal!!

  4. Great story beautifully written. Very funny and seems like wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing. Must have been great times.

    Gregory Chairs