Unseasonal warm weather heralded in January 2016 was quickly followed by an icy wind that swept away some of our better known chefs and restauranteurs. One by one top names announced closures, Claude Bosi, Mark Hix, Richard Caring, Allegra McEvedy and others all put up 'For Sale' signs. Even the high priest of politically correct eating, Ottolenghi, was forced to shutter his Covent Garden eatery...
Could it be that a gullible public finally woke up to the fact that it's been fleeced? For many of these feted restaurants, it will be a PR company that would have been responsible for their success by turning them into the new catwalks of fashion. We've been brain-washed into believing that by eating over-priced Middle Eastern 'fusion' food we'll be doing our bit for the peace process because these restaurants are owned by an Israeli and a Palestinian.
There are plenty of sensibly priced restaurants where the food is wonderful and these are the kind of places we should be celebrating, like the family owned RICE on Chiswick High Road. Wonderful, authentic Persian food where it would be difficult to push the bill, including a glass of wine or real Persian beer, to £20 a head. Eating out is, or should be, a pleasurable experience but do we really have to be ripped off?
In the final analysis we're really talking about something that goes into one orifice and a few hours later is expelled from another one.