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Sorry does indeed seem to be the hardest word

Published 23 May 2004
News Review
556th article

From left: Jesus Adorno, Michael Winner and Andy Kress (Roderick Gilchrist)

It started with David of "David and Wendy" phoning me. They think they'll be downgraded if I mention their surname. They live in St John's Wood. How can you be more downgraded than that!

"Jesus wants to know if I can give him your private phone number. He wants to apologise to you," said David. This was not a request from the Jesus in heaven. It was from Jesus Adorno, who runs Le Caprice. Nor was there any need for either of them, above or below, to apologise.

I'd had a brush with Nick Roderick, the Caprice restaurant manager, who behaved bizarrely over an atrociously messed-up booking. But I'd been back more than once.

Le Caprice remains excellent. Next time I go I intend asking Nick to join me on a hiking holiday in the Himalayas. I told David he could give Jesus my phone number. But he never phoned.

A few weeks later a call came from Roderick Gilchrist, deputy editor of The Mail on Sunday, who I've known since the mid-1970s when he was a showbiz writer and did some exceptionally good profiles of me.

"Will you do me a favour?" said Rod. "What is it?" I asked cautiously. "Just say you'll do me a favour," said Rod. "Okay. I'll do you a favour," I obliged. "May I take you to Daphne's for lunch? Jesus wants to come over and apologise to you." "But I saw Jesus three days ago," I said. "He came to my table at the Caprice and we chatted. There's no need for him to apologise. He didn't then. Why should he now?"

Later I dutifully exited my house to go to Chelsea for my Daphne's date. Daphne's is owned by the Caprice people. Jesus divides his time between one and the other.

To complicate matters Rod had sent a chauffeur car for me. He believed I'd fallen asleep in my car as stated, quite untruly, in the Daily Mirror. A modest Mercedes was outside my house. The sort given to junior executives with no hope of promotion. I thanked the driver and walked past into my Rolls Phantom V with my chauffeur, Jim, holding the door.

I arrived at Daphne's 10 minutes early. So did Rod. Jesus rang to say he'd be late. "That's not very good," said Rod. "He should have been here to greet you." "We’ll live," I opined.

Jesus arrived shortly thereafter. He's an exceptionally good restaurant manager. I was told to say he's in charge of Le Caprice and Daphne's and a director of Caprice Holdings Ltd. I've done it!

Jesus sat down at our table. I've heard of democracy, but it's a bit much when restaurant staff plonk themselves with the customers. Jesus ordered fried zucchini. That was a great success. They were a tiny bit salty, but I loved them. My hands darted to the plate, grabbing them like crazy.

We were sitting where I used to sit in days gone by when I frequented Daphne's. "It's the best table because it has a very good all-round view of the room and the entrance," said Jesus. I agreed.

I started with commendable spaghetti as recommended by Jesus. Then on to meatballs. "They're the fishcakes of Daphne's," explained Jesus, referring to the most popular items at the Ivy and Le Caprice. They were excellent.

Jesus recommended the chocolate and pumpkin tart, which I'd rejected when reading the menu as it sounded a ridiculous combination. "I'll have it, Jesus," I said. "Because you've done well on the food so far." Rod said, "Tell the chef to make it specially." I said, "Don't be silly, it's been in the deep freeze for six weeks." That was a joke! The tart was pleasant but unexceptional.

As if from nowhere came Daphne's executive chef, Andy Kress. Rod took our photo rather jovially, but it came out. It was a most entertaining meal.

I knew Daphne's in the 1960s when it was opened by a theatrical agent and specialised in chocolate souffle. The last time I went was after OJ Simpson's first trial when I took OJ himself. The Daily Mirror photographed me and OJ in my Rolls. Piers Morgan, the editor, captioned it, "Britain's most reviled man . . . with his friend OJ Simpson." "I thought that was very funny!" I said. "I didn't," said Rod, "it was nasty." This shows Rod is a very nice person. And I'm perverse.

As we left Rod indicated his own company Mercedes. It was like the one he'd sent for me. "What's wrong with that car?" he asked defiantly. "It"s pathetic," I replied and wandered off to a quality vehicle.

  • PS, Jesus never did apologise!

    Winner's letters

    You reminded me last week that the car park at La Colombe d'Or is as historic as their food. Trying to reverse my long-wheelbase Jag around the one-in-one-gradient hairpin bends with a 100ft drop on one side and the wheels spinning on loose gravel was histrionic, never mind historic. If you’re a thrill seeker, Michael - park your own car.
    Stewart Calligan, Yorkshire

    After dining at La Colombe d'Or with my wife and daughters just after you left, we found the staff attentive but rather obsequious. Mimi, the larger-than-life waitress, was especially demonstrative with the children. We've never felt so pampered. Could it be they mistook me for your grandson?
    Oliver Hutcheon, Guernsey

    PJ Mcvean (Winner's Letters, February 8) asks if, in the event of your exploding at an inconvenient moment, he can have the Roller, in the aftermath of what would undoubtedly be a detonation of historic proportions, who's to say there'd be anything left of it?
    Victor Biraben, Berkshire

    Everyone knows Michael's column is a wind-up. Sandy Lane was a Sixties pop singer.
    R A Duvant, Yorkshire

    I offer my services as Winner's official photographer - the long-suffering Geraldine needs to be in all the shots. Michael always looks well fed but sad without her. The clue is in the eyes - unless, of course, the wine is corked!
    Barry Mason, Staffordshire

    Really, complaining about standing around in the cold while a doorman fetches your car! (Winner's Dinners, February 22). A real man exits the Dorchester after several pints of lager and a curry, having proffered a false room number in an attempt to gain late-night drinking. Winner, your batteries are flat.
    Robin Lloyd, London

    Lunchtime at the Bear in Hungerford and the restaurant was deserted. Perhaps the locals had realised the danger. After taking our order, a girl came over with a disclaimer for me to sign, stating "the Bear will not be held responsible for any illness incurred from eating a blue steak in the restaurant". If I didn't sign, they wouldn't serve it!
    Steve Jones, Berkshire

    Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or e-mail michael.winner@sunday-times.co.uk