I moved from Paris to London in early 1998, a few months after Smith Barney merger with Salomon Brothers. We still had separate offices then: Salomon « the big swinging dicks » Brothers was located in Victoria, while we, old-fashioned in the heart of the City, were overlooking the Bank of England. I knew the guys, and liked them very much. Since I joined the company in 1991, we would meet at least once a year for a week in New York. Actually working with them would be different, though. They were the absolute best in the business.
Members of the good-to-great teams tended to become and remain friends for life. In many cases, they are still in close contact with each other years or decades after working together. (…) these people had fun! They enjoyed each other’s company and actually looked forward to meetings. (…) Their experiences went beyond just mutual respect (which they certainly had), to lasting comradeship.
Jim Collins, Good to Great, 2001
My first day in the London office. It was sixteen years ago, and I still remember vividly the sun and the light of a wonderful warm spring morning. Friday noon, they decided to enlighten the frog. We all went to the pub downstairs. Beautiful terrace, classy, great people watching. Pimm’s for everyone, our self-proclaimed leader said. The waitress: twelve Pimm’s, then? The leader: no, twelve pitchers of Pimm’s, please.
Context is important. The best place to fully appreciate the state of enlightenment that comes with a fine English, Scottish, or Irish beverage is, of course, that all-important institution, the pub. (…) Gastro-pub? What the fuck is that? (…) A good pub should never have fine food. (…) The British pub is one of the last great bastions of goodness, civility, and decency in the world. (…) Good beer and fancy food should be kept separate. A firewall between them, like church and state. That wall crumbles and all will be chaos.
Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits, 2006
Yes, sure. Maybe. Actually, one could argue that the modern-british gastro-pub has reinvented the sausage and the fish and chips, those two great bastions of the monarchy. No to fancy food? Ok. But fine food is a must, and as far as fine food is concerned, London has become a beacon in the 21st century.
To be continued…
Check out La Belle Assiette in the UK.
L.T. Sachs is a member of La Belle Assiette board.