The restaurants mourning Queen Elizabeth II from memory

As the country mourns Queen Elizabeth II this week, a select group of restaurants she visited are no doubt reviewing their own royal memories. For security reasons as well as to preserve the mystique of royalty, Her Majesty was a very infrequent diner in restaurants – and when she did so, it was usually in a private room rather than in the public gaze.

Her 1956 outing to Quaglino’s in St James’s (pictured above) was a historic occasion recorded as the first meal ever eaten in a public restaurant by a reigning British monarch. Founded in the 1920s and rescued by Sir Terence Conran in 1993, “Quag’s” is now part of D&D London and still wins top marks in the 2022 Harden’s guide for its “stylish and atmospheric space”, even if its food is rather more prosaic.

The only restaurant where the late Queen could have been described as a regular was the Waterside Inn at Bray, the Roux family’s temple to classic French cuisine conveniently situated no more than 10 minutes’ drive from Windsor Castle. The Royal Family often used the Waterside to host private dinners, and Diego Masciaga, its legendary maître d’ who retired four years ago, got to know HRH well. The meals would invariably take place in a private room, but on one occasion the royal party decided on a whim to eat in the public dining room – and when they got up to leave at the end of their meal, the entire restaurant gave them a round of applause.

Back in London, the Queen was known to have visited some of the more plutocratic hotels, including Claridge’s and The Goring – the latter well known as a favourite of her mother’s.

She also visited The Ivy at least twice, most recently in the company of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent in May 2017. She celebrated her 80th birthday at Bellamy’s in Bruton Place, Mayfair, where she apparently dined on smoked eel mousse, caviar and roast quail, and she returned 10 years later in the company of Princess Anne and her cousin, Princess Alexandra.

In March 2012, accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the late Queen formally opened the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, whose royal connections extend back to its foundation in 1707. William Fortnum was an enterprising footman in the household of Queen Anne with a sideline selling half-used candles rejected by the Royal Family, who liked fresh candles every evening. He went into business with his landlord, Hugh Mason, launching the grocer that became an institution where, until recently, HRH did her Christmas shopping.

Share this article: