It was Daphne Colthard who suggested I saw the New Year in at the Hotel du Vin. I am not one for the revelries of a new year and would be quite happily tucked up in bed by 11 than pay the high prices that restaurants charge for dinner on this night. However I have my godson and his mother staying with me and last night was her birthday as well. I had lunched at the hotel before and liked it.
The evening started well. Champagne was liberally served with canapes in the lounge and we made our way to the table Daffers recommended. The tartare of sea bass and caviar was delicious and the beef with a Stilton rarebit rich but praiseworthy. My impression was the restaurant was pushing the boat out for those on the expensive cruise. My dessert of banana tatin – shoots of banana in the rather congealed treacly tatin sauce was almost inedible. Then two very odd and off things happened. As I made my way to the dance floor to strut my stuff I was tapped on the shoulder and asked if I would pay for our wine. Clearly the management thought I was a dishonest diner doing a runner. If they checked the records they would know on a previous visit they neglected to include the food element on the bill which I drew to their attention. Then, on returning to the table, we saw most of the others being cleared. We could only assume that coffee and truffles were being served in the lounge but no one told us and we were quite happy where we were. Worst, the ambience of a dining room throbbing as the new year beckoned became an area being cleared for the following day. I ordered two glasses of vintage champagne for the New Year. I am embarrassed to say what the whole evening cost me but I could have gone to Paris for the same amount.
Like most sensible people I had booked my regular cab driver Ali to deliver and collect. The last thing I wanted was a long wait for a taxi. He told us that 10 years ago he would make £750 on New Years Eve, tonight he would do well to earn half that. I do believe that restaurants and clubs have priced New Year beyond the pockets of most party goers. My hairdresser was saying she would go the cafe next door. Maybe too there is fear that revelry turns to something more unpleasant in the early hours.
Hey ho, these things happen. A happy and prosperous New Year to all our readers.