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A la Colthard/ The Gay Hussar

Daphne Coltahrd rues the closing of a Soho institution

I was so sad to see the Gay Hussar is about to go. It was a landmark restaurant patronised by the Left specialising in Hungarian food. The Standard food critic in the weekend supplement described the food as ” atrocious “which I thought a bit harsh. She based her withering critique on a starter I often have, the cold cherry soup which she termed “Nesquik drenched in wine” but which I find an interesting effort at flavour in a dish I have never eaten elsewhere. Okay the large portions can contain some stodgy veg but the duck is crispy and rich.

It was taken over by the Corus Group who also own another institution L’Etoile over which the old bird Elena presided well into her 80s. I have used their 2 private rooms for my own functions and found the management especially the delightfully helpful Amoryn more efficient than at the Gay Hussar. The problem for the Gay Hussar is not the stuffy decor but its so small and it lacks a management grip and drive. John the rather unctuous Hungarian appears to be in charge but its ambience is driven by the socialists you see there. They come less frequently now and Tony Blair when he dined with Bill Clinton chose the more chic and cool Pont De La Tour.

It was not ever thus. In my misspent youth when Daffers was bit of a radical I had the greatest fun with some of the Labour boys. Yes, I was there for that infamous party when lady guests were held over on the Thames from the terrace of the House, activated the alarms and the SAS arrived only to find not a river terrorist attack on the Commons but us drunk girlies. You could have a respectable cabinet of those MPs with whom I went eyeball to eyeball over a goulash at the Gay Hussar. Its new Labour now and the Gay Hussar and old Labour will be gone. You have to say though like the corner shop closing in the face of the new Tesco if enough people patronised it rather than said they missed it would not be closing its doers.

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About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts