Coutts & Co is justifiably proud of its rooftop vegetable garden, a delightful island of greenery amid the stark steel and glass of central London. Why, it is said the highest praise a Coutts banker can get these days is that he/she “has green fingers”, a brownie point towards getting a generous annual bonus.
Only problem is, our best chums at 440 fear, is that their bank is on a course which will result in it becoming totally vegan before long. For the Coutts dining rooms for clients and friends are first class, and few other banks can rival its hospitality. A shift to the bally old bean-sprout diet would surely be a tragedy, both for staff and clients.
There are several signs of a move away from a diet rich in animal flesh which, as we blokes know, is absolutely vital to keep the bally old testosterone levels pumped up. Perhaps that is why the fundamentalist “vegemites” seem so keen on promoting the calming effects of a root vegetable- and lettuce-based menu, after a few iffy testo-fuelled cases which have so offended the delicate sensibilities of certain gels in the City.
We sympathise but must really draw the line, particularly when it comes to one horrid though unofficial suggestion for a new Coutts dining room menu title for well-heeled clients: Let them eat kale.
Damn it all, even the famous Koi carp Eight in the Coutts atrium are now undergoing intensive trauma therapy. We understand that they are being reassured that, under a totalitarian vegan approach, fish will be completely off the menu—even on Fridays.
Certainly, Coutts seems to be worryingly close to Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex and a person very deeply committed to the more extreme fringes of the vegetarian cause (where some back the slogan, ‘Eat the Meat-free Rich’). Ominously, the bank has just hosted an investment ceremony where La Mills, and her veggie-investment vehicle, VBites, outlined her backing for plant-based businesses.
VBites, in one of its latest ventures, has invested in Mylkman, which is described as a plant-based milk delivery service. The hope is that the company will now be able to increase production of its alternative to mammalian milk. Yuk. Mylkman describes itself as a plastic-free company delivers its plant-milks in glass bottles directly to people's doors throughout London.
Heather says she's “dismayed" by the plight suffered by so many promising plant-based brands, which struggle to expand due the soaring costs of property and the real scarcity of 100 percent vegan manufacturing operations. Yes, what a shame.
The dear girl incidentally got a very useful £25 million or so in her divorce from the Liverpool warbler. We can think of no better or safer home for this largesse than Coutts, with her fortune well hidden in a safe in the potting shed up on the 440 roof.
Anyway, worried Coutts colleagues are understandably fearful that, fuelled by the very productive rooftop plot, anything vaguely meaty will soon be off the menu in those hallowed Coutts dining suites. Why, Coutts is even going to produce a book on healthy eating, we hear. We await this eagerly, as it is sure to be worth a butcher’s.
A series of menus, purporting to be drafts of the proposed vegan-only meals shortly to be introduced, are circulating widely. Here are just a few of the scary examples of healthy eating our chums solemnly swear are on their way:
Brown Windsor Soup, with soy meat colouring a la Duke of Edinburgh.
Lord Waldegrave hard-tack biscuits with faux weevil pate
Alison’s rose petal and courgette deep-fried flower tasters
Clarkson Bangers & Mash: Organic fennel and pumpkin seed sausages, with garlic potato, dill and carrot mash, a thyme jus and a tower of onion rings. Specially prepared for Jeremy, a onetime Coutts client of note (so, possibly, ‘the best bangers......in the world’).
Linda McCartney vegan sausage rolls: Made with leek, thyme and mushrooms but a dish that has never caught on in Liverpool, for some reason.
Faux pheasant with partridge substitute & chestnut stuffing: Unlikely, though to be a favourite with Buckingham Palace clients, we understand.
Zurich offshore spiced veal roesti surprise: Almost like real food, for the soy meat is said to be quite flavoursome. Served regularly to friends from UBP once the chef has done all the food compliance checks.
Salad Norburn with rocket. A du jour item on the dining menu, but act quickly – running out fast.
Heather’s Leg of Tofu Lamb. OK, as long as doused thoroughly by lots of mint sauce and basted with a decent divorce payout.
Thomas Coutts Turkey: No, not premier bonds but a veg-based substitute with herb stuffing and Utterly-Butterly roast potatoes which is just about acceptable once thoroughly singed.
Drummonds Faux Haggis: Pumpkin instead of the sheep stomach wrapping, and filled with delicious zucchini, mangle worzel, parsnips and served with a strawberry coolis. Guarantee free of any Scots influence.
Child & Co: A Lawyer sandwich lite bite, accompanied by a burnt almond tort.
The Meghan Burger: In tribute to the new American member of the Royal family, a rich tofu patty, pitta bread plus generous helpings of Quorn on the cob
The Morley Nutroast: One of the more acceptable meat-free dishes although many guests do prefer Der Frankfurter.
Gayle Schumacher’s Bubble & Squeak Surprise, with a big Leek side-dish. A traditional favourite which can be enjoyed until the lunchtime whistle blows.
Papa Fiori’s hot and spicey pizza, on a gluten-free base with lashings of Jalapeño peppers.
Chinese Boardroom specialities, including sweet ‘n’ sour Ma Po Tofu.
The Alan Higgins all-u-can-eat client buffet (warning: some risk of cholesterol)
The Robbie Savage ‘Who’s et all the veggie Pies’ set menu
Coram Charity Lunch: Poppadoms with lentil puree & Bombay Aloo (medium hot)
The Angela Burdett-Coutts Trifle: A disappointment, perhaps due to the regrettable excessive use of Angel Delight mix.
Mylkman beetroot and turnip icecream, with a honey jus. Although ultra-strict vegans will avoid, this dessert made from the proceeds of the Coutts roofline garden hives is very popular. No insects harmed in preparation of this dish.
Premier Bombe Surprise: A particularly rich dessert, with strawberries and Mylkman triple-whipped cream. Sure to be a favourite of Sir Keith Mills.
Keogh Lime Pie
Newbury fruits (seasonal)
The Tapner Traditional Cheese Board: An ersatz double-Gloucester made from a Mylkman base along with a superb sugar-beet based aged Stilton with organic port.
By Stowell of Chelsea: Selected old and new world organic fine wines, featuring an award-winning Syed Shiraz ’15.
Tips: discretionary but always advisory
Gawd, what a prospect. Our Coutts pals, in preparation for the ruthless reign of the foodistas, are already clubbing together to book a permanent lunchtime table at nearby Rules. This splendid restaurant can, as ever be relied on for its superb British beef and lamb joints, swimming with rich gravy.
So, chums, please ensure the traditional dishes of old England are preserved forever as Brexit approaches. For there is no better sight in the whole of gastronomy, in the opinion of the knowledgeable Willie Waldegrave, than a 64-gun Yorkshire pudding beating up on the turn of the gravy tide from below the salt.
Breaking News! Coutts pals can now be assured that a total Vegan Coutts is off the menu, as it were. Chief executive Peter Flavel, an Aussie who is part Kiwi, is devoted to his lamb chops for he’s from a “eat what you kill” farming family. So a good steak and a beloved full-bodied Barossa Valley red will always be on the menu - to those who first apply well beforehand to Coutts in strictest confidence using the password, “G’day, Poms.”
Phew, what a let-off.