Published 1 August 1993 Style Magazine 6th article
Mass catering is a disaster. At any function you'd better pray the company is good, because you know the food won't be. My heart sank when I saw a replica 1929 Ford Asquith van outside the Cartier tent at Polo last Sunday with the name "Mosimann's London" in chi-chi lettering on it. What's more, Anton Mosimann himself was behind the tent-cloth, supervising his food for the almost glitterati crowd.
But fair's fair I give him excellent marks. It was the best catered meal I've ever eaten. He kept it simple, the main course being chicken, but fresher than most, with an excellent sauce and crispy, charming veg. We chosen 700 were served an all-cold meal, also clever because hot stuff is always re-heated.
After grudgingly watching a bit of polo, I was ready for my tea. That was a disaster. On reflection, I don't think anyone called Mosimann should be allowed near an English tea. The menu described what should have been delicately cut cucumber and tomato sandwiches as "Finger-sized Zopf". I ask you! They turned out to be dried-up rolls with awful goo on top. The scones were heated-up lead pellets and the sticky gingerbread refused to leave my mouth. The Darjeeling Orange tea was stale.
The best catered tea I had was at the Buckingham Palace garden parties in 1968 and 1969. Obviously I committed some social gaffe, because I was never asked again. Delicious little sandwiches, lovely cakelets with pretty coloured icing and Swiss rolls now Anton should have managed those, he's Swiss! And the tea was Earl Grey, fresh as you could want. Town and County provided it then and still does. Now there's a name that goes with English tea.
A few years ago I had a rich and very influential boyfriend who spent a lot of time and money taking me out. We went everywhere that was anywhere. And he is "known" everywhere. When we would arrive at a posh restaurant, the maitre'd would welcome him effusively. "Good evening, Mr X", "How are you, Mr X'?", "We've kept your favourite table" etc, etc. I was totally invisible. The fact that I was a middle-aged, well-dressed, successful businesswoman and of aristocratic origins cut no ice - I was clearly regarded as this evening's lay, which I found offensive. When I take men out for expensive business lunches, restaurants, curiously, do not treat them as my "afternoon's lay", though they might well be. They treat them as "men of consequence", though they well might not be. Why the difference?
Annabel Geddes, London S W10
I booked a table for four for 7pm on June 19 at Quaglino's. When we were shown to a table with a plastic top, I asked to be moved to one with a tablecloth, but was told that they were all booked, and it was not possible to supply us with a tablecloth. By the time we had finished, many of the covered tables were still not occupied. When I pointed this out to the waiter, he did not comment, but when I declined to pay the service charge, he called the manager. After some sarcasm, he reluctantly accepted payment without service, but informed me that my booking for August 28 would be cancelled and that I would not be welcome at Quaglino's again. I wrote to Sir Terence Conran but was surprised at the tone of his reply: "I think you behaved in a rather petty way by not paying the staff their service charge."
Maurice Godden, St Albans, Harts