Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Magazine article The Spectator

Restaurants

Article excerpt

RESTAURANTS

My brother has been nagging me for ages to try a restaurant near his office in town. In the end, I caved in, largely because I know from my childhood that when thwarted he will either wee on you while you are in the bath or write 'Arsenal' on your forehead in laundry pen while you are asleep. If exceptionally riled - if my sisters and I, for example, ganged up on him and got to watch Quincy, say, when he wanted to watch Match of the Day - we'd get both. To this day, my sisters and I all have fringes - do you know how long it takes for laundry pen to fade? and cannot relax in the bath unless the door is locked and bolted and the laundry basket is pressed up against it from the inside.

Anyway, the restaurant is Rocket, off New Bond Street, which doesn't bode well. Firstly, because it's off New Bond Street, where Prada and Gucci and Chanel and Tiffany and Burberry and Hermès all vie to sell you this year's must-have handbag for £10,000 while refusing to let you put it on your Matalan card - Matalan, a fantastic emporium where you can always buy last year's mustn't-have handbag for 20p or so - it's bound to be bollocky and expensive. Secondly, I'm fearful that if it is called Rocket it will specialise in the dreadful stuff. As I have said before, I think rocket is to modern cooking what the parsley garnish was to the Seventies: utterly pointless, tiresome and overused. Unlike Quincy. Now, that was a great Seventies experience, even though, when it was recently rerun in the afternoons, I noted that it's the same plot every week. Quincy, ME, is doing a post-mortem and he says to the detective, 'It looks like murder.' The detective goes, 'No way, Quincy. It's suicide. C'mon. We gotta wrap this case up.' Then they have a bit of a set-to largely along the following, relentlessly un-Shakespearean lines:

'Murder.'

'Suicide.'

'Murder.'

'Suicide.'

Then they all go down the Chinese restaurant for an argument. 'Murder, suicide, murder, suicide. . . .' Perhaps the scriptwriter meant to write something different each week, but his secretary kept pressing the wrong button. Lastly, I have to say that, for someone with ME, Quincy really got about. One always had to admire him for that if nothing else. Did he ever, I now wonder, look at Ironside's wheelchair and rather wish he had one? If so, he never let on.

We enter the restaurant, which is in a small and delightful hidden mews. There's a bar downstairs, full of young business types, and a restaurant upstairs, which would be a cliché of the modern restaurant interior (wenge wood, dragged terracotta walls) if it weren't for a lovely huge atrium and a sliding ladder thingy to reach the wine on the top shelves, which looks like lots of fun. We'd booked for 1.15 p.m., but my brother's wife, who is joining us, doesn't arrive until 1.45. Something to do with ferrying reluctant adolescent children to school and parking at Totteridge station. My brother says he's already decided on her gravestone: 'The late, late Mary Ross'. She says she would prefer: 'Thin, at last!' She is currently, she says, on the Carol Vorderman diet. We want to know if this means she can only live on letters. Ps and T? Or do you have to count Carolies? Is there a Richard Whiteley diet and, if so, does it prescribe bad puns and even worse ties? My brother suggests she tries the Michelle McManus diet, as you can eat all you like without ever losing weight. It's a miracle! But then retracts the remark on the grounds that it's 'cruel'. I say that from someone who wee'd on his little sisters while they were in the bath cruelty is only to be expected. …

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