Last week Chris Corbin and Jeremy King lost controlof the restaurant group they founded: Corbin & King, which made theWolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel under Piccadilly Circus where, ifthey were lucky, tourists would tumble as if into a fairy pool. Corbin and Kingunderstand that a superb restaurant looks after its staff, and its staff lookafter its customers. It’s called love, and it matters, but that is gone now.
Central London is ever more flinty,unimaginative and grasping: a playground for people who do not deserve it.Russians stripped their state and spent the proceeds in London. I saw them doit. Each luckless duck and bottle was a piece of a potential Russian state tobe digested. Now their only currency is blood.
The Maine, then: a flinty restaurant nearVogue House that invites its diners to imagine they are in Maine for the priceof travelling to Maine. I think Maine is America’s Cornwall, and so I will doit the courtesy of not visiting it. The restaurant offers ‘an immersivetownhouse experience… rich with British heraldry’ (what does that mean?) insidean 18th–century house so over-renovated it looks like it was built in 2004,which rather crushes the point. We take the wrong door and enter a fashionuniversity for trust-fund hags presided over by Professor Jimmy Choo. We aresent away for being ugly.
We find the right door and are waved intoanother basement paved with money. Here the chandelier is the thing. It is solarge I spend the meal fearing it will fall on my head and there will be nomore restaurant criticism from me because I was killed by fine dining.
It doesn’t look like Maine, even if someonehas taken the trouble to hang shells on a wall. It looks like the set of BugsyMalone. There is a bandstand for burlesque – for people so charmless theycannot persuade other people to take off their clothes for nothing and must payfor it instead – and vast crystal lamps in the shape of palm trees. There areno palm trees in Maine. I checked. I want to say to the designer what I want tosay to people who think Israel will drop a nuclear weapon on Gaza: get a map.Our age of decadence is so decadent it does not even have its own aesthetic. Wejust stole the last one: Bugsy Malone. Weimar. Palm trees. And under acrystal palm tree in Fat Sam’s fake Weimar I watch blonde female dinersroad-testing their dermal fillers and pretending to eat.
The food has no character. It can’t, becauseit is trying to be Maine and Maine is 3,000 miles away, though in truth itfeels further. The only visceral– and interesting – thing about this restaurantare the prices. £120 for a T-Bone. £148 for a Poseidon Platter that does notcontain the god Poseidon, who wouldn’t be seen here anyway, being old money.
We can’t afford two steaks. Let that be myepitaph. So my companion has steak. She says it’s fine, though it looks to melike half of an M&S meal deal. I have a piece of spatchcock chicken soboring that if it appeared in an advert for spatchcock chicken it wouldn’t get aline. Lemon meringue pie also looks like a woman with dermal fillers – is thatharmony? – but it tastes OK, being sugar. The service is excellent if you wanta waiter so kind you fear she has been trafficked. She gazes at us with theexpression of a woman with no access to her passport. I say it twice a monthand it is true: London is falling.
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The Maine, 20 Hanover Square, London W1; tel: 020 3432 2192.
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