Friday, January 20, 2006

Worst. Lounge Act. Ever.

In the words of the great sage of our time, Flavor Flav, "Don't believe the hype". Last night The Tall American and myself went to a Conran restaurant in central London as the reviews we'd seen suggested it would be a good place for an entertaining civilised evening. Well, like the man said, there's lies, damned lies and restaurant review websites. The irony is that the food and wine was OK to pretty good. The rest of the experience was so God-awful (especially the band, but we'll come to them) that the thought of going back might result in a mild aneurism.

So first we had to get someone to acknowledge our reservation. This took 3 people and about 10 minutes. Think Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and you get an idea of the bureaucracy involved. Finally we made it to the bar for a cocktail. Now I wasn't expecting anything amazing, but I did at least expect them to have the bloody ingredients for the drinks on their sodding menu at 7 o'clock in the evening. Apparently I was somewhat naive. So after we had been (barely) served a piss-weak, warm cocktail we got to eat. This, in fairness, was the good bit; decent tapas and good wine and it should, of course, have been the centre-piece of the evening. But it wasn't. Why? Because there was THE BAND. Holy Mary, Mother of God. Never have I seen 2 perfectly lovely baby grand pianos treated so badly. Imagine, but carefully, I wouldn't want you to suffer any lasting injury, 2 twentysomethings playing an array of pop and jazz standards on these poor innocent instruments accompanied by a drummer who redefined my understanding of rhythm. Very loudly. That they could take such a range of classic tunes and butcher them as they did serves only to show that you should never be unkind to any wannabe karaoke starlet belting out "Gimme Gimme Gimme" at the end of the night. It could be so much worse. And did I mention that they were loud? Holy Crap they were loud. And they were everywhere. Thanks to the miracles of the PA system they were piped to all corners of the establishment. Even in the kazis the aural bilge water of an utterly balless version of "A Little Less Conversation" conspired to make you feel trapped in some kind of dystopian nightmare of tawdry design, rotten lighting and piss-poor service. I had thought that it was really only the food that I cared about in restaurants but I was so wrong. I pity the chefs. With friends like these...


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