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Madame Tussaud's Is a Place to Wax Poetic

December 14, 1986|JUDITH MORGAN | Morgan, of La Jolla, is a nationally known magazine and newspaper writer

LONDON — And so I said to Charles de Gaulle, "What do you think of the situation in France today?"

And he said nothing.

And so I turned to Prince Andrew and asked how his marriage was getting on.

He merely smiled.

J. R. Ewing's blue eyes glittered as I approached, but he remained aloof.

So much for conversation; this was obviously an evening to see and be seen, here at dinner in the Grand Hall of Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London.

It was my first visit to this exhibit of the rich and famous, the royals and rock stars, the living and dead. After the museum closes at 6 p.m., Madame Tussaud's caters parties in a setting that is unforgettable.

I cannot, however, remember the food. How could I with Henry VIII and all six wives staring my way? How could I with Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen sharing a writing table while Shakespeare looks over their shoulders?

Sarah Is Stunning

Sarah Ferguson is stunning in her bridal finery, I can report; Queen Elizabeth does not seem as chipper as in person.

Dinner in the Great Hall followed cocktails in the plant-filled conservatory, where the Beatles hung around an upright, white piano, and Humphrey Bogart clutched a cigarette and seemed to listen.

Agatha Christie was said to be there, but either I missed her or mistook her for one of my silver-haired friends.

I followed the direct route out to Marylebone Road after coffee, thus avoiding the Chamber of Horrors.

Among less sensational--though more splendid--tables where I have dined recently:

The Leonore Christine, a blue-front beauty at No. 9 Nyhavn in Copenhagen, which serves Danish nouvelle cuisine in a sleek 17th-Century house on Nyhavn Canal.

The first course was an individual copper casserole of wild mushrooms and sweetbreads. It was so savory that I pretended that all were mushrooms, and thereby learned that sweetbreads, delicately prepared and in small amounts, can be delicious.

Fish is the specialty; the catch of that day was sunfish. Dessert was ice cream heaped with cloudberries. I had a window seat above the sidewalk and Nyhavn Canal, where old fishing boats bobbed amid a netting of lamplight.

The Roman Camp Hotel, a turreted country inn surrounded by 20 acres of forest and garden on the River Teith, just off the main street of Callander in Scotland. Dinner is based on local produce such as fresh trout, Scottish beef or lamb. I lucked out on a day of poached salmon, which ranks with the best.

Inn on the River

In Stockholm, the Bergen & London. The meal began with cock-a-leekie soup and ended with apple and bramble pie. I could have stayed a week at this 11-room inn, with its extensive library and handsome lounge, facing the wide, clear river at the edge of the Trossachs.

Once again I have fallen in love with Tadich Grill on California Street in San Francisco. This cozy nook, founded during the Gold Rush by Yugoslavian immigrants, speaks more to me of the city by the bay than even the Golden Gate bridge. The choices of seafood are plentiful, and come with crisp long branch potatoes. The menu includes steaks, stews and pasta. The waiters are of the old school, wrapped in white aprons and savvy.

To linger in a private booth at Tadich, and sip white wine and nibble broiled petrale sole and tear at crusty sourdough bread, is one of my favorite ways to spend a rainy afternoon.

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