Just as well that good things come to those who wait
Published 14 May 2006 News Review 669th article
Piero Amodio, left, Michael Edwards and Michael Winner at Timo (Dinah May)
Some of my staff went and said the food was okay but it took forever to arrive. Since then Timo, not far from JK Rowling's townhouse off Kensington High Street, has changed ownership.
I took Michael Edwards, a very nice, efficient travel agent who once ran ITC Classics. When he left the owner, Drew Foster, who's unhelpful and rude, took over. I stopped using them.
Michael now specialises in Mauritius. That's too far for me. But we made it walking the few paces from my house to Timo.
An Italian man greeted us. I thought, "He's the owner." I put this to him. He was.
His name is Piero Amodio.
"It means love God," he revealed. He's had Timo for two years.
It's a long, narrow restaurant but perfectly pleasant. Nicely done out with simple brown and beige chairs and a wooden floor.
I forgot to bring my reading glasses. Piero disappeared, then reported, "I've got some glasses for you. I'm giving them a clean."
I responded, "Never mind clean, just let me have them."
I was reading the set menu, three courses £18 plus 12.5% service, when Sir David Frost walked in. He announced, "I do like this place, it's near my office."
"I've lost two and half stone, David," I bragged.
David clapped his hands and said, "People are standing up all over the room and applauding." They weren't. Only David. Incidentally, I've been asked to write a diet book. That's something I never thought would happen!
"Now Frost is here we're in the poo, because they're all taking notice of him," I observed to Michael. I beckoned to the restaurant manager, Sebastiano Bitti. "Come here," I begged.
Michael ordered vegetarian timbale gratinated with smoked mozzarella and then "grilled chicken paillard served with roast potatoes and mix (sic) salad". I went for spaghetti with bacon, onion, chilli and fresh tomatoes followed by boar stew with fried polenta.
My staff had said the service was slow. It was still slow. Very slow. "We came in at 10 to 1. We must have ordered by 1. It's now 25 past and we haven't got anything!" I moaned to my guest.
Eventually came a very big starter portion of spaghetti. "On my new diet I can't eat all that,"
I announced. But it was so good I did. Michael said his vegetable stuff was excellent.
"It's now quarter to 2 and we haven't got our main course yet," I observed. Then I hailed Sebastiano and said, "The service is a bit slow."
He uttered those famous words, "The main course is on the way."
"Where from?" I wondered, "Glasgow!" Nevertheless my boar stew was superb, very tasty, very tender.
"Wild boar," said Michael. It's good he remembers things. He's in the travel industry. At least he'll get the right tickets for the right people.
Michael commented, "My chicken lacks flavour."
"Chicken nearly always lacks flavour," I responded, "that's why I switched to wild boar. I don't know why I ordered polenta. I hate polenta. I should have asked for rice or potatoes instead."
For dessert Michael had baked caramel egg custard with orange syrup. I settled for lemon sorbet. "Don't take for ever to bring these things!" I pleaded with Sebastiano.
"Straight away, sir," he said.
I tried Michael's custard. It was good. I asked Piero where my sorbet came from.
"This is an English gentleman. We make our own ice cream. He's just started so we wanted to help him," was the answer.
I said, "Like you'd normally make it, but you're very philanthropic and charitable so you're giving the order to this starving Englishman.
"What you mean is you were getting your sorbet from somewhere else and this fellow gave you a better price. A new company offering cheap deals to get customers. I don't blame him. Anyway, it's a perfectly good sorbet."
Then my assistant Dinah May arrived. I said to Piero, "You're going to have your photo taken now. This lady has just come from Australia to take it." In fact she'd come from my house round the corner.
As she left Piero said, very charmingly, to Dinah, "Have a good trip back to Australia."
PS: I told David Frost about a television series I'd been offered. He said, "It's got hit written all over it."
I said, "Oh really, David, can I take that to the bank?"
PPS: The "jacket" I'm wearing was on offer, very soiled and second-hand, for $7 in the worst slum area of downtown Los Angeles where we shot Death Wish II. I got the man down to $5. He said, "If you leave it around, Mr Winner, I'll sell it back to you tomorrow."
You keep banging on about how skinny you are (Winners Dinners, last week, the week before and most probably the week before that too) - but nobody seems to notice. Is it because the old clothes you can fit into again are as perennially out of fashion as your more recent purchases?
Charles Brownlow, Bristol
Stuart Rochester wrote last week, "Any gentleman who doesn't wear a tie is quite simply insulting his tailor." That English attitude is one small factor in my decision to live in France. I have a cutting from The Daily Telegraph which reads, "Male civil servants in Lower Saxony have been ordered not to wear ties because they are phallic symbols."
Geoff Taylor, Pouzols-Minervois, France?
I'm envious every week of your going to places like Le Caprice and the Ivy. But my wife and I visited the White Horse for her birthday. We found the food excellent at very good prices. Now I can no longer rely on your recommendations I've cancelled my booking at Le Caprice!
David Pinney, Luton
Regarding your comments about Novelli, I used to frequent the Auberge du Lac before Novelli took over, but went only once or twice after his arrival as he spoiled what had been created. I visited his White Horse Inn. You didn't miss a thing. I'm not a big eater but I had trouble finding the food on the plate. Novelli seems to forget he's a retailer. Harbouring grudges for nine years is not the way to go forward. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Trevor Webber, Bedfordshire
You wrote last week that Novelli's White Horse in Harpenden looked like "Ikea on a bad day". When were you last at Ikea on a good or a bad day?
Peter Levinger, London
Richard Affleck, landlord of the Boot Inn, Houghton, Hampshire (Winner's Letters, last week) is unquestionably a grumpy old man. But as a local I can attest to the fact that he and his wife Tessa run a damned fine pub. I'm sorry the metropolitan visitors failed to find satisfaction. Put it down to good, old-fashioned Hampshire anti-charm.
John Trowsdale, Hampshire
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