Restaurateur Gavin Rankin shares his views on summer in Mayfair
August, in Mayfair, used never to be the high spot of a restaurant’s year. Tumbleweed blew about and disheveled restaurateurs roamed the streets, avoiding eye contact, and scouring the pavements for loose change.
Mount Street with its own specially widened pavements (presumably to accommodate stampeding shoppers in search of £10,000 bargains) was a ghost mall and everywhere else deserted. No fat cats in our business then. Dear me, no. Just a few of us skinny tomcats fighting over fish heads and trying to avoid being run over by the great Jeremy King, whooshing past in his beautiful Bristol motor car, on the way to one of his golden temples.
But how times have changed. Jeremy still whooshes past only now he is driven. And this August, for the second year running, we staged a week long cabaret, starring the lovely Rebecca Grant singing unsuitable songs while accompanied by Tom Wakeley on piano. We were packed for most of the week and piano-playing city magnates were elbowing each other out of the way in the dash to perform during the post-show celebrations. Except, of course, for the brilliant Sandy Swinton who (as usual) had to be begged to play – treating us (eventually) to a piano version of Tubular Bells which we all reckoned better than the original. Anyway, the very fact that so many people showed up seemed testament to a new truth: that it is cool to be in London in August. There was a much more vibrant feel to the whole area. Even our local beggar reported a significant increase in turnover, year on year, and decided not to go away on holiday.
Bellamy’s new bar, which has become a sort of mini-restaurant at lunchtime, continues to grow in the evenings with representatives from all age groups, especially (thank goodness) the young who have worked out that the drinks are a lot cheaper than they might suppose. Tomas, our six-foot-eight-inch barman, is a wizard with the shaker and leaves you in just the right state of exhilaration without actually having to be led away. Also, the subdued and kindly lighting gives us all a rejuvenated appearance which does wonders for the morale and for making new friends.
Mind you, navigating through one’s indefinite fifties is, for some, a difficult business. My old friend Harry Wyndham, who had come to feel that he was winning the war of art over nature, was recently strap-hanging his way home on a crowded tube. He was struck by the beauty of a girl sitting in front of him and, for a magical moment, their eyes met. She returned his smile and lifted her eyebrows enquiringly. ‘Oh joy’, thought Harry, ‘the flame still burns’. At which the Venus Andromeda of the Jubilee line rose to her feet… and… and… offered him her seat. He has been inconsolable ever since.
At Bellamy’s, we continue our policy of offering affordable options to suit pockets of varying size. There remain, of course, many favourites whose absence might otherwise invite unsought criticism from regulars. And, naturally, there is roast grouse as well other seasonal dishes to suit lighter constitutions. The young and the canny should note that the house wines are still only £19 and entirely ‘buvable’ and that our set menu remains at £24.75 for three courses.
I hope that you have summered well and that we will see you at Bellamy’s again soon.
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