Thursday, 20 March 2008

What matter to me if their star is a world?

[Robert Browning]

There is a restaurant twenty miles from where we live which we have visited as often as we could ever since it opened, for it is the best within fifty miles. This year it gained a Michelin star, and we feel slightly superior to the riff-raff who are now flocking to it just because a tyre manufacturer in Clermont-Ferrand says it's good.

Of course the extra business a star brings is not to be sneezed at, and happily the prices have not yet soared and the food and service is still exemplary; the only change for old customers is that one has to book even longer in advance than before. For the staff, however, the influx of braying foodies holding their wine up to the light and generally showing off their knowledge by being demanding is something of a downside. But we usually go at unfashionable times when the other diners are mostly, like us, quiet browsers and sluicers, and we will continue to go as often as we can.

I won't mention the name or location of the restaurant because it doesn't need advertising (it never did), but we are not so selfish as to want to to keep such a treasure all to ourselves. It may well be that there are readers of Other Men's Flowers who would like to visit it, so any attractive and amusing couples who live in south-east England have only to send me an email inviting my family and me to be their guests at dinner there, with a bottle or two of some modest claret and perhaps a couple of glasses of the 1963 Dow to finish with, and I will be happy to suggest a convenient date, reserve our favourite table and give full directions for finding the place.

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