Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Article excerpt

Daphne's serves Italian food in South Kensington. (I like the name because Daphne was the name Jack Lemmon chose for his female self in Some Like It Hot , although Tony Curtis -- Josephine -- wanted to call him Geraldine. I know no one else called Daphne, and I do not need to. Lemmon sated me.) This district, you may recall, is currently a building site, as residents try to dream their houses bigger and their noses smaller; it is a tangle of cranes, personal trainers, tax avoidance, lipstick, adultery and Ferraris swamped with parking tickets. And so Daphne's, which was a 1980s mini-series restaurant wrought from assorted Nigel Dempster columns and Judith Krantz novels, recently restored, now has the soothing grace of a National Trust interior.

It looks like an expensive jewellery shop, such as Graff, with its big yellow diamonds in the window, promising forgiveness like lumps of cheese: it has a pale gold façade with a rickety black gate and a delicate awning. It says, in pretty capital letters: Daphne's. It reminds me, initially, of Monaco. Every-thing looks like Daphne's in Monaco, even the servants.

I have not been able to establish who Daphne is, or if she even existed. A food blog says she was a theatrical agent but I do not treat the internet as fact because I am not insane. I sense she is a construct even if she was real, a comforting one for us flesh women: the woman who could not bear herself, and so threw a dinner party without end. Daphne's was founded in 1962, hosted the gruesome puddle of sociopathy called café society, and was bought by Mogens Tholstrup, a 'society Scandinavian', in 1993; after that, said Dai Llewellyn, who knew such things, 'I see him at the most exclusive house parties in the south of France and the smartest boar shoots in Germany.' Now it is owned by Richard Caring, my favourite antagonist. …

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