Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Article excerpt

Batman owned the Criterion in The Dark Knight , but could he do anything about British Telecom? Savini at Criterion, an Italian restaurant, waited four months for an internet connection and telephone line as they prepared to launch this year; when it arrived they gave BT what must be the worst review in the history of telecommunications: 'This wouldn't happen in Italy.'

It ruined the launch, they said. They couldn't invite actors, except by pigeon post. And because actors are, in restaurant marketing terms, signposts -- and they do look like signposts, specifically Monagasque signposts -- no one knew Savini was there. It has no constituency. It is George Galloway, who has inexplicably blocked me on -Twitter.

But I am too gloomy. The Criterion is, from the street, the most beautiful restaurant in London; it walked out of Paris and washed France off its face. Unfortunately -- and this is cruelty to plagiarism, pastiche and facade -- the street is Piccadilly Circus. So of course no one knows it is there; I doubt anyone ever did, after the creation of the 767 square metre electronic advertising hoarding that manages to make Piccadilly Circus an ideal setting for the apocalypse with pigeons raining from the sky. What Second Empire dining room with neo-Byzantine interiors can compete with 'Coca-Cola' written in stupidly large letters and tourists mouthing, 'Those are really big letters! I'm so glad I came to London'? I lay so much harm at the door of advertising. And now it has cowed the Criterion, and starved it of light, which annoys me, because the suffragettes came here, and loathed men for their oblivious misogyny, and their female acolytes for the same, and then stuffed their faces, which is also what I did.

Restaurants squat in the Criterion, one after the other. They share it, like the tenant waxworks in Madame -Tussaud's. …

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