Jack o’ Clubs
Jermyn Street is London’s branded shirt mecca. On a parallel street to the south is the world’s clubs concentrate, astride Pall Mall, abutting St James’s Square. During my October 2010 club crawl, I counted ten of the best military and civilian clubs, cheek by jowl on the most expensive real estate in the heart of London’s West End. The Army & Navy Club, also called The Rag—by one Capt Billy Duff, for the spartan fare once served there—and affiliated to our own Delhi Gymkhana (not a patch on The Rag), is located on Pall Mall, but the entrance is through St James’s Square. As the navy is the senior service in Britain, the dominant motif and flavour is maritime, though as you enter, on the left corner is the rarest of rare pictures—that of Admiral Nelson and Lord Wellington together. Near Nelson’s room on the first floor adjacent to the dining room is a portrait of a horse-borne Queen Victoria in 1837, the year of her accession to the throne and also the year the club was formed. From a pick of six for the main course, I chose char-grilled Scottish rib-eye steak with garlic butter and hot minted potatoes accompanied by Laroque 2002. Simply delicious!