Thursday, January 14, 2010

Posh Nosh

I've always wondered why some restaurants become known as the "in" places to go. I don't make a habit of frequenting them generally, but I've eaten at a fair few of them and most tend not to live up to expectations. It seems to me that you go to these restaurants to either be seen or see who else is there. There's a lot of "mwah mwahing" going on, with people uettering inanities like "haven't seen you since Mustique, dahling, OK, yah!" The Ivy is one such place and today I had lunch at another, Le Caprice.

The food wasn't bad, and the company was superb - my lunch partner was the irrepressible Gyles Brandreth - but the whole place had a slightly superior air about it. I don't think I got off to the best of starts when I asked to be sat at a table with a power point next to it. The Maitre d' looked down his nose and sniffed, "I'm afraid we don't have one of those." "No, no," I replied. "I don't want to plug my laptop in, I want to charge my phone.". "I suppose I could take it down to the orfice," he kindly offered. Much as I enjoyed my lunch with Gyles, I do think I feel more at home in the Kennington Cafe next to our office in Kennington Lane. Hey ho.

38 comments:

Ean Craigie said...

st got a booking at the Fat Duck, friend of mine is paying, only one menu and not allowed to bring your own wine.

KrizleyWheatnik said...

Were you discussing his diaries? I've just been reading them and they're very interesting! It seems Caprice is a favourite of his.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Did the funniest speech I ever heard at the Government Affairs Group Xmas lunch this year. Gyles I mean. :o)

99% of it unrepeatable!

Tcheuchter said...

Small family-run Italian places are best, & stuff the cachet.

Julian the Wonderhorse said...

Go to Amici's on Kennington Lane - top class food and it is friendly!

The White hart is also tops, and you have all those Portuguese places at your disposal. Why cross the river to that cold, northern realm when you have such a world in SE11?

gianni said...

The best food in the world is cooked by Nonna, Mamma or my wife, period.

THE WORSE FOOD IS USUALLY EXPENSIVE AND SERVED IN "RECOMMENDED" (MICHALE WINNER HASNT A CLUE, SORRY!!!)RESTAURANTS. THE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD IS THE ONE THAT YOU FIND THAT RELATIVELY UNKNOWN

Colin said...

What I find most objectionable are the waiters / waitresses in such establishments. They're being paid less than any of the people who come through the restaurant's doors, and yet they treat their clientele with contempt. It's the same with shop stewards in upmarket designer label stores. What gives them the right to behave like that?

Unsworth said...

The Ivy's OK but like so many - particularly Le Caprice - it's not very good value for money. I quite like Sheekeys which is marginally more comfortable, but there's a little cafe and sandwich bar in New Row just opposite and that does superb hot salt-beef sandwiches. The conversation tends to be more entertaining, too.

Simpsons in the Strand is good for a laugh - a bit hit-and-miss, but if you get a booth you can spread out a bit. It's just like school dinnners.

I always book tables for at least one more person than I have actually invited.

Matthew Dear said...

You don't think that was an odd request?! I do! Do they oblige at the Kennington Cafe??

Botogol said...

you don't blog about your lunches in Kennington, though, do you?
Mwah.

Paddy Briggs said...

Now look here young Dale if you want to make it in Dave, Boris and George's Tory party you better make yourself feel at home in places where decent chaps eat. And that sure ain't Kennington (except when Surrey are at home of course). And leave your telephonic apparatus behind as well. And switch your sporting allegiance to Chelsea - or better still Wasps...

fyoc said...

I've never had a bad meal in a cheap restaurant but I've had many bad meals in expensive restaurants......

Newmania said...

Liar , got his book to read , must get started .

Osama the Nazarene said...

The common touch eh!

Quite right too.

Charles said...

The Ivy is mediocre. The food is not particularly good. The wine list is short and devoid of imagination. I couldn't care less about celeb spotting.

The Square, Maze, Marcus Wareing, Hibiscus, Arbutus, Wild Honey, Murano, Helene Darroze etc - with all of those, why got the the Ivy?

The Yorkshire Terrorist said...

Surprising then that you're a member of the Tory party.

Megan said...

I've never eaten at Caprice, but have eaten several times at The Ivy. I've always found that the difficult thing is getting a table in the first place. Once in, I think they treat celebs & non-entities like me, exactly the same.The staff are friendly & the food quite good value for money - though I'm sure it's not in the same league as the Kennington Cafe!

Pugh said...

This may be slightly off topic, but while you were having lunch, so was I, and I said this before I really thought about it. When I thought about it, it seemed like good advice to Dave, who, at the moment, has trouble knowing where he should stand politically.

Dave, Diane Abbott's greatest aspiration was to send her son to the same school that you went to and she was willing to use my money to do it.

Old Holborn said...

O/T (apologies Iain)

Paliamentary Committee needs public views on

* Illegal File Sharing
* DNA and Fingerprinting
* Stop and Search
* Forced Sex Education for Children
* Asylum Support

By Monday 18th. Your chance to say what you feel. They hid it, I found it

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2010/01/have-your-say.html

repossessed house investor said...

Oh dear me Iain, You must know it’s terribly rude to use your telephone in any restaurant and even ruder to charge it during your lunch.

Had lunch not long ago in the bar at the Dorchester. One of a party of 3 young guys was constantly on his phone; the maitre eventually came over and asked him to put his phone away.

Young guy’s response was “I get a lot of very important calls to attend to”

Maitre’s response in return “Sir, in this bar very important phone calls are first taken by PA’s”

Perfect squelch!!

Conand said...

"I feel more at home in the Kennington Cafe next to our office in Kennington Lane"

You old reactionary.

I feel the urge to come over all 'mwah mwah darlinks' in the Kennington Cafe. It's obviously the new place to be.

canvas said...

Iain, never mind your lunch at Le Caprice - why isn't David Cameron talking about the relief effort for Haiti?? The time for leadership is NOW.

Now.

freddo41 said...

Not very aspirational, are you Iain?
This could have come straignt from some chippy, Eton-hating, toff-baiting lefty. Maybe you could sell the secondary rights to John Prescott.
Here's a list of the words you two members of the socially insecuritate have in common: Mwah mwah, Mustique, dahling, OK yah! (None of which, I'll bet were actually used at lunch today.)
One of the reasons why Gyles Brandreth is such a terrific lunch companion is that he is utterly free - not to say disdainful - of such Prescottian resentfulness.

canvas said...

"Tory leader David Cameron echoed the Prime Minister's comments about the "terrible events" in Haiti.

"I send my support to those involved in the humanitarian effort," he said."

Is that it? All DC can offer is lip service? Action is all that matters now. The voters are watching DC closely....

Lola said...

Don't do out. Cook for them.

marksany said...

No wonder you can't get selected - no class, dear boy.

Glyn H said...

As part of my education my father took me to some place called A l’ecu de France and somewhere I still have the book of matches (for the then twinned/triplicated restaurant chain) with it’s chum Le (?La) Caprice and A N Other. As that was in the 1960’s I hope the have refreshed it. Just reading the other comments can anywhere that Mr Winner goes be other than the very height of vulgarity? I would rather have a 3/6d meal in the Goldhawk Road than be seen where that fellow goes. He should be married to Anne Robinson; they could live behind bars in Kensington P Gardens and squawk to their hearts content.

freddo41 said...

I hadn't realised that canvas has got his own website.
I can't remember the exact address but if you just type 'witless trolling' into Google, up he comes.

AD627 said...

Learn the proper use of the verb 'to sit' and restaurants might make you feel more welcome.

tapestry said...

you and brandreth are up to something............

Unsworth said...

@ Canvas

Even more witless than usual. Just remind us what executive powers Cameron has. He's endorsed Brown's actions (as has Clegg), what do you want him to do now - organise the relief personally? If so, let Brown hand over to Cameron this morning.

hopisen said...

I second Amici's in Kennington- was at the "new" Amici's last night and it was lovely. A good, friendly, fun local italian, unpretentious but nicely done.

canvas said...

@ unsworth - the lack of tory empathy to the disaster in Haiti says more than you can imagine. Why hasn't Iain used what little influence he has to let people know how they can donate or help the relief effort?

DC should be doing more to help because we can't rely on gordon brown for any form of leadership.

Julian the Wonderhorse said...

Hopi Sen agrees with me - I knew she (or is it he?) would say something right one day.

50% off at the White Hart in January, Iain, and you can phone, text and laptop to your heart's content

Dave and George Jumblie said...

Being insufficiently competent to have charged phone and naff enough to ask to charge it at a[ny] restaurant, will do you no good at selection meetings.
Now you have reminded us of the word 'tosser'. Sorry!

Steve H said...

Bit of a crass post there, Iain. If you know that such places are too effete for a son of the soil like yourself, don't book a table there. And, if it was Brandreth's descision to go there, then it's ill-mannered to then slag the place off on your blog.

If I were lucky enough to get to spend lunch with Gyles Brandreth, I'd either be too polite to keep checking my phone during the meal or too interested in the conversation.

The final bit was the worst. Look everyone, I prefer the local caff to posh people's restaurants. Aren't I ordinary?

Iain Dale said...

Steve, get over yourself. I had no intention of even looking at my phone. I wanted it charged so i could use it during the afternoon.

And as for the last bit, I do prefer cafes to top class restaurants so why should I refrain from saying so?

Clearly you need to take a sense of humour pill.

freddo41 said...

It wasn't until I read your piece that I realised why my local caff is called a 'chippy.'