“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

L’Orient Restaurant, St Giles High Street, WC2

Posted: October 21st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

My thanks to Rob Baker, a great poster of old pictures of London, for this image of St Giles High Street in 1956. This part of the street no longer exists as it is now under the site of Centre Point by the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street’s eastern end. This end of St Giles High Street went and now probably many other similar streets that did survive in that area – Denmark Street, the old Tin Pan Alley, for instance – are also slated for partial or full demolition.

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Anyway our subject of interest is the L’Orient Restaurant. The sign indicates that it was an Indian restaurant though “L’Orient” is not a common name for an Indian restaurant. And so it seems L’Orient was somewhat more than an Indian restaurant. L’Orient was at No.56-59 St. Giles High Street (“Telephone: TEM 5717; Close to Tottenham Court Road tube; Open Daily for Lunches and Dinners”). The restaurant certainly did specialise in Indian food and claimed, in its adverts, to be “noted for curries and sweet dishes”. However, the restaurant also sold some Chinese and English dishes. Quite when they opened and finally closed I’m not sure. They were certainly open in 1947 when the restaurant made the New Statesman’s annual weekend review of restaurants.

The restaurant was also described as a “Linguists’ Rendezvous” in 1950 – i.e. a place where members of the Linguists’ Club went and met up. The Club, which was launched in 1932 and lasted until the early 1970s, acted as a meeting place and school for linguists, including interpreters, translators, language students, and other members who merely wanted to practice their language skills.

If anyone knows anything else – especially happens to have a menu? I’d love to hear.

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3 Comments on “L’Orient Restaurant, St Giles High Street, WC2”

  1. 1 Alan said at 4:54 am on January 15th, 2020:

    Hello, are you sure this area has been demolished? I’m sure it still exists. My grandmother ran a restaurant at no59 from around 1933-41.

  2. 2 Paul French said at 4:42 am on January 16th, 2020:

    Alan – I’m pretty sure that building and all of St Gile High Street is long gone under Centre Point – Denmark Place has also now gone as has most of the north side of Denmark Street due to Crossrail.

  3. 3 Alan stewart said at 1:52 am on January 17th, 2020:

    I can’t post a photo on here I took a couple of years ago of number 59 st Giles high street, also last time I visited it was all still there covered up with scaffolding, if you google earth search it, it shows the fronts of these buildings still there. Unless I’m mistaken.. looking at your photo here and the google street image the buildings look the same. Such a shame if they have gone..


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