Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Death of the Mirabelle

Once again the Guardian's Zoe Williams displays an eerie ability to write a column coinciding with my own preoccupations. She says the British are still burdened with class timidity in restaurants, failing to complain when they should. For once, I agree, though I hate complaining myself. However, last night I was at the Mirabelle in Mayfair. This used to be a serene and elegant joint where one went to be plied with Marco Pierre White's finest comestibles by waiters who yearned to lay down their lives for their customers. But it is years since I have been there and, in the interim, the secretive hedge fund industry has colonised the environs of Berkeley Square. The Mirabelle has become the factory canteen. The place was rotten with braying hedgers, toasting each other and generally revelling in their easy and pointless wealth, plundered from the meta-markets of the world. The marble steps down to the bar were littered with stubbed cigarettes. By the door a hedger was sitting on the floor, smoking and barking into his mobile. I was at once spotted by the now cold and haughty waiters as not one of them. The service was, as a result, appalling. A Mayfair institution has been destroyed by fast money. I'm all for the wealth these rootless, philistine hedgers bring to London But, last night, I realised I don't want to meet them, see them or hear them and, to be honest, I took a wicked delight in noting that they all seemed to smoke so heavily and some, though young, were remarkably fat. But no, Zoe, I didn't complain, I did something much better. I wrote this post.

12 comments:

  1. We're much more friendly in the ship's mess Bryan. And if a steward is rude to my officers, I don my eye patch and point to the plank. I like those little Italian family restaurants with a sandwich bar at the front and a little diner at the back. Food's not marvellous and the wine is weak as piss, but the staff are friendly enough. There's a good one in Albermarle Street, frequented by lots of artists and filmakers, and another up the alley from Jermyn Street to Piccadilly. But these are home thoughts from deep below the Arctic ice. Happy Christmas.

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  2. Ah, Cap'n. I'll bet your mess is a fun place. If we broke hardtack together, would you give me the piece with the lesser of two weevils?

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  3. I have one of "those" daughters, ie a teenage strict vegetarian, what a combination. The other day she ate in the school canteen, a rare event for her as she usually takes her own lunch (made, I must add, by her non-domestic disatff parent, so whaddya think of that?!). The "cheese and tomato" sandwich she began to eat tasted odd -- she discovered near the end that it was actually tuna. She would not complain or let me complain.
    When she told her little sister about this, said sister replied that the same thing had happened to a girl in her class to whom eating animal matter is "against her religion, so her mother is going to sue the school".

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  4. Gobsmacked by this post, Bryan. One of your finest of all time [since I've been reading anyhow]. Saw something similar at one of the north's finest years ago and voted with the feet.

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  5. In this context, Frank Wilson reminds me of a comment of William Buckley's - 'The trouble with communism was communism - it was an unsound theory disastrous in practice. The trouble with capitalism is capitalists.'

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  6. You blame the hedgers here unfairly. I have been to the said establishment a twice and it was appalling on both occasions.

    The staff are rude and the service poor; even at weekends when the Hedgers are in Surrey.

    It's fall from grace occurred sometime ago. The fact thatthe hedgers ahve not noticed is a small sign of pleasure to me as they are welcome to it and it frees other restaurants from them.

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  7. You blame the hedgers here unfairly. I have been to the said establishment a twice and it was appalling on both occasions. The staff are rude and the service poor; even at weekends when the Hedgers are in Surrey. It's fall from grace occurred sometime ago. The fact that the hedgers have not noticed is a small sign of pleasure to me as they are welcome to it and it frees other restaurants from them

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  8. From Mrs B:
    Cap’n B, that’s enough of your nautical nonsense, get yourself ashore for Christmas. If any post-ers out on the high seas have had a recent sighting of the Cap’n I’d like to know because it’s over three years since I’ve set eyes on him and I’ve got three hungry mouths here to feed. There can’t be that many rum-swilling sailors of the old school around these days with eye-patch, hook, wooden leg and a distinctly piratical air. Women can’t resist his salty charms – take heed Susan Balée – and he’s got one in every port. I’ve taken myself along to this Italian inn in Albemarle Street and they tell me he was there but a week ago …

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  9. I deny these libellous aspersions on the honour of an old sailor. Susan, I have two legs and two hands. The eye-patch is mere affectation. More like Daniel Craig in fact. Honest.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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