Thursday, July 08, 2004

Restaurant at the End of the Universe

For no good reason, someone's opened a very classy, exclusive DimSum restaurant in my street. On a council estate. In Euston.

It's the foodie equivalent of The Man Who Fell To Earth - plonked between a Massage Parlour and the Filipino drop-in centre and needle exchange is this alien palace of chic design - it's outside is all frosted glass and tinted windows. No menu, no sign, no door handles.

Inside is a triumph of elegant design, with a great menu, amazingly attentive waitresses and an ambience of restrained luxury only heightened by the specially mixed music.

It is, of course, empty.

During our amazing meal, a man staggered in, holding a pack of beer and plastering tools. He blinked at the dazzling gloom. A waitress materialised next to him. "Do you have a take away menu, love?"

She giggled regretfully. "Alas, we do not have a menu. So sorry."

At the end of the meal, one of the waitresses, leant over me, her placid elegance suddenly abandoned. "How did you find this place?" she whispered to me.

"I live on the estate."

"Oh. It's just we've been open for a fortnight, and no-one's come in. The owner's getting worried." She indicated a fat man sitting in the distance behind some drapes, laughing and drinking with his friends.

"Well - you can't see if the place is open, it's dark, and there isn't a menu outside. No one knows what you do, or how much it costs."

"Ah. Yes. We asked the owner about printing a menu, but he's not yet sure it's right for the brand. We have business cards."

It was at that moment I realised the restaurant was doomed.

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