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Once again my crystal clear analysis sheds light

Published 18 June 2006
News Review
674th article



Michael with David Wilkinson in front of the 'Perry' chandelier (Dinah May)

I have 16 chandeliers in my house. They're all 19th century except for the enormous one in my bedroom.

"One of the finest rooms in London," observed King Edward VII when he was being painted by Sir Luke Fildes. There I have a superb reproduction, made by my friend David Wilkinson, of a Perry chandelier.

William Perry was a famous 19th-century maker. His New Bond Street firm produced chandeliers for Buckingham Palace. David has made or restored chandeliers for Buck Pal, the Bank of England, Spencer House and other places almost as distinguished as mine.

There was drama with my "Perry". David did the metal bits in silver. I was expecting gold to match the original 1870 Victorian embossed wallpaper on the ceiling.

"I sent you a photo," said David, dreading having to re-gild it.

"The photo was black and white," I explained. "How could I see it was silver?"

David phoned back. "I know how to solve the chandelier problem," he suggested. "Re-paint the ceiling silver." A funny remark. No chance.

David visited recently to discuss cleaning my chandeliers. Each piece of crystal has to be removed, washed and replaced. I took him to lunch at e&o in Notting Hill. one of my favourite restaurants. It always has a great buzz. Staff excellent, food tasty.

I normally start with date and water chestnut gyozas, baby pork spare ribs, and prawn and chive dumplings, going on to black cod with sweet miso - an amazing dish even at £21.50 before service. I also have steamed or egg rice and wok fried choi shoots, shao heing.

The owner of e&o is a delightful man named Will Ricker. I always call him "Rick" by mistake. Will or Rick, or both of them, asked me to try their sister restaurant Eight Over Eight in Chelsea. What a disaster!

I phoned. The restaurant manager, an Australian named Shane Morck, said, "We're completely full."

"Will Ricker particularly asked me to come to you," I pleaded. "What's your name?” he asked abruptly.

I'd already given it, but I repeated, "Michael Winner. I was hoping to write you up in The Sunday Times."

"Maybe I can find a table for two," said Shane grudgingly.

"Is it one of those tables where one person faces the wall and the other looks out to the room?"

"Yes," said Shane.

"I don’t sit at those," I said. "I'd like a bigger table, please."

"They're all full," repeated Shane. "Maybe I could phone a customer and delay his reservation."

"Whatever," I said.

Five minutes later Shane called back. "Come any time," he announced. So the Princess (Paola Lombard) and I turned up.

I said to Shane, "Normally I'm greeted with charm worth a strong eight on a scale of one to 10. Yours was a weak three."

"I've only been in England two weeks, I didn't know who you were," responded Shane.

"That makes no difference at all," I said. "I was a customer. It doesn’t hurt to be polite."

In the meantime I noticed, in this supposedly full restaurant, three round tables for four people were empty, plus the booth Shane showed me to, plus another four larger booths.

We ordered. And waited forever for two simple starters. Finally I said to the waiter, "Please send a search party to the kitchen to find my food."

At 9.15pm, over an hour after we'd ordered, crab soup and some walnut and date gyozas arrived. The gyozas looked a bit burnt. There were still three tables for four and three booths empty. The food was okay. The place has low light and a rather dreary atmosphere.

As we'd been put next to the bar there was endless plate clattering plus the noise of the electric mixer going. Not a nice spot to be. The main course arrived at 9.40pm. Black cod. Which was good.

On the way out I said to Shane: "Let me be very clear. It matters not at all that you didn't know who I was. I phoned as a customer and you told me I couldn't come because you were full. You said there were no tables.

"All the time I've been here, well over an hour, you've had no less than two round tables for four empty and two booths. They still are, you can see them clearly. In fact it's three booths empty if you include mine, which was only occupied because you let me in.

"Is it your job to tum people away and stop Will Ricker making money? It's an absolute disgrace."

Thus I turned on my heel (whatever that means) and left. Princess said she didn’t like it there. That was an understatement.



Winner's letters

The titled gentleman you referred to last week wouldn't have used the proletariat expression "toilet". Educated people refer to such a place as a lavatory. Good thing you're not going to Buckingham Palace to receive a decoration in case you inquire for the toilets, or the "ensuite".
Michael Carey, Norwich

As a notorious bon viveur it's your duty to eat, drink and live large on our behalf, then to tell us about it. So be a good chap and put that 2½ stone of gut back on so we can take you seriously.
Simon Dickson, County Mayo

I like to think of Mr Winner in the south of France as he was last week. At least it means he's not here. Only joking. I find him mildly amusing.
Andrew Kirby, Horefordshire

Please continue to wear white smocks such as in last Sunday's photo. The space they create is useful tor doodling in when l tackle the crossword, adjacent to your column in the European edition of The Sunday Times.
Mike Ryan, Paris

Our choice of the Hotel Villa Serbelloni on Lake Como was completely vindicated by the presence of Michael Winner and Geraldine. Sadly we couldn't have the central window table as he'd bagged it. We had to dine looking at the view across his table. Michael will have liked the generous spacing of tables, but this meant we could neither see what he and Geraldine had ordered nor hear his dictation l was torn between wanting to be friendly and respecting his privacy so said only good evening in the foyer. I thought he gave rather a curt reply. The restaurant was very elegant as was Geraldine. But I'm not too sure about Michael's frayed jeans!
Norman and Cherry Dowoy, Guernsey

At Lindsay House on a slow Monday evening we cannot only better Michelle Atkinson's two-hour wait (Winner's Letters, last week) but throw in a main course of cold duck breast as if from the fridge This was removed as requested but returned soon after in the same state. We were assured it was meant to be that way. Decent food as befits a Michelin starred restaurant might have mitigated the patronising service. Our letter to Richard Corrigan remains unanswered.
Madeleine Shaer, London

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