Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Article excerpt

Occasionally a critic must review a restaurant in which they are prepared to spend their own money. So here is the Dean Street Townhouse. It is a terrible name, because all houses in Dean Street, a fusty artery of Soho, are town houses; they are not Wendy houses or country houses or dolls' houses. But Dean Street House is worse, too close to Soho House, the private club and near neighbour where no one will meet your eye for wondering where the next useful tosser is. 'Townhouse' has a kudos, I suppose, these days. It is almost opposite the Groucho Club, which is Noel Edmonds's Multi-Coloured Swap Shop for media idiots. It shares a corner with Meard Street, in which my friend the artist Sebastian Horsley killed himself with heroin by mistake.

It is a Victorian cream cake, five storeys high and smooth, with rackety warehouse windows on top. There are tables outside with racing-green umbrellas, should your lungs be able to cope with the fug of the London bowl, which finds its nadir in Soho. (Oxford Street, to the north, has the worst air pollution in the world. I read that in the newspaper of everyday terror, the Daily Mail. ) Otherwise, Soho is polished, home to luxe sex shops, branches of Costa Coffee and the sort of angsting people in fashionable spectacles that Martin Amis writes about. But the fug -- and the native Soho smell of bleach and animal fat -- remains. It is ineradicable, a place for coughing and retching and what psychopaths call 'networking'. (Non-psychopaths call it 'making friends'). Sometimes I count the trees in Soho, and sympathise. They look sick.

The higher storeys are an anti-chintz hotel, pruned and tasteful, which is nonetheless slightly moronic. Rooms are called tiny, big and bigger, like children; the only proper Soho hotel is Hazlitt's, a tatty boudoir on the corner of Soho Square where you feel inadequate if you aren't committing adultery with a solicitor. …

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