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Le Caprice restaurant review

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    Le Caprice Apartments

    Eggs benedict, salmon fish cakes, steak tartare. Says Hix: 'Cooking is about what the customers want to eat, not what the chef wants the customers to eat.

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    Yet they come for the air of the place as much as what's on their plates. Most regulars - there are many, many regulars - have their treasured Caprice moment. It was like being in an episode of Extras. At the end we stole Liz Taylor's wine glass with her lipstick on.

    Le Caprice, London

    John Gielgud was sitting two places down. I remember feeling, "Yes, this is the place to be". Though Le Caprice is celebrating its 25th birthday this year - with a bash at the Serpentine Gallery, hosted, of course, by Jesus himself - in fact, the restaurant has existed, tucked behind the Ritz in Arlington Street, just off Piccadilly, since The pair became the capital's patron saints of must-see dining during that decade of hairspray and Filofaxes, and later went on to buy the Ivy and transform it into the star-pot it is today. In truth, Le Caprice hasn't changed much over its quarter century.

    The service is still impeccable. There's still the neon-blue scribble of the signage outside, the long bar, the black-and-white David Bailey portraits of Beaton and Nureyev, Polanski and Tate, Faithfull and Jagger lining the walls, the rectangular room done up in monochrome - a bit of a throwback, that. Today, you'll find Corbin and King over at the Wolseley on Piccadilly. Le Caprice and its sister restaurants in London's 'Holy Trinity' the Ivy and J Sheekey were sold, first to Luke Johnson's Belgo Group, and subsequently to retail entrepreneur Richard Caring, whose latest acquisition is Scott's of Mayfair, which reopens next month after a grand refurb.

    Caring's plan is to develop the profile of his new purchases. But for now - and probably to the relief of most of the guests at the Serpentine - there's still only one Le Caprice. As I'm about to leave the party, I notice that there, in among the Angela Rippons, the Simon Callows and the Anne Robinsons, sandwiched between the money and the mavens, is Jeffrey Archer, a man for whom Le Caprice is more than simply a pleasing place to eat risotto nero.

    Le Caprice, you might recall, was name-checked in his alibi for that fateful night in September when his descent from frontline politics began.

    Farewell to Le Caprice

    That goes a long way to explaining why Le Caprice has always been as much about the people — many of them regulars, most of them the wrong side of 35 — as the food. A ctually, regulars barely bother looking at a menu they probably know more intimately than their spouse. B ut I also have a soft spot for fat tiger prawns under a roughly chopped chimichurri ahead of thick-cut chicken alla Milanese in a crisp coating of breadcrumbs — even if the Milanese has never been as good since the kitchen stopped serving it with a jug of herb butter.

    Either way, a crunchy rustle of French fries and a nutmeg-fragrant bowl of creamed spinach are the go-to bits on the side, and Welsh rarebit blistered under the grill my why-order-anything-else finish. I n its heyday, Le Caprice was the s equivalent of Sexy Fish , also part of the Caring portfolio. Classy Cilla was the perfect celebrity for Le Caprice: familiar but impressive, homely but glamorous, well past the first flush of youth but still twinkling with star quality.