SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Friday 13th August 2004

Daphne's

ES Magazine - 13th August 2004

by Toby Young

What's the most daunting task in the restaurant business? To open a new restaurant and turn it into the talk of the town is hard. To take over the management of a struggling restaurant and make it profitable is harder still. But the hardest thing of all is to take a restaurant that was once the bee's knees and restore it to its former glory. That was the Sisyphean labour faced by Jesus Adorno, the Bolivian maitre 'd of the Caprice, when Daphne's, the 95-seat Tuscan restaurant on Draycott Avenue, was taken over by Caprice Holdings two-and-a-half years ago.

When Daphne's first threw open its doors in 1964 it was an overnight success. Named after the theatrical agent Daphne Rye, it became an instant hit, boasting a group of regulars that included Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness and Tony Richardson. Even the young Prince Charles could occasionally be spotted entertaining some gorgeous young dolly bird in a Mary Quant outfit in one of its discreet booths.

Its star gradually began to fade, alongside that of the Chelsea Set, and it was very much out of the limelight when it was taken over by the infamous Mogens Tholstrup in 1991. The Scandinavian playboy set about sprucing it up, adding an extension and replacing the French menu with an Italian one, and in no time at all it had become a hot favourite among the Sloane Ranger set. For a brief period, it even eclipsed San Lorenzo. Prince Charles may not have come back, but it became a home away from home for his frisky young wife.

Mogens sold out to the Belgo Group in 1998, by which time the restaurant had once again sunk into the doldrums, and it finally became part of Caprice Holdings in November, 2001. For Daphne's to become the fourth member of a group that consisted of the Ivy, the Caprice and J Sheekey was a little like Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb asking Will Young if he'd like to join the Bee Gees. Nevertheless, if anyone could pull this off it was Jesus. This legendary front-of-house man is, quite simply, the Brian Epstein of restaurant managers.

It may be a little early to pass judgement, but if the experience I had at Daphne's last week is anything to go by it's well on its way to becoming the most fashionable restaurant in SW3. Keiran Terry, formerly headwaiter at the Caprice, has been brought in as general manager and he's galvanised the staff into producing the kind of food and service you'd expect from a member of this group. I was accompanied by my sister-in-law and her four-month-old daughter, but the waiting staff couldn't have been more accommodating, even going so far as to discreetly look away when she started breastfeeding at the table.

I tested our waiter's patience even further by asking if I could start with one of the main courses on the set lunch menu--pancetta-and-pea linguine--and then follow with some new season lamb from the a la carte menu. He didn't bat an eyelid and only charged me £5.75, which is a bargain for food of this quality. In between feeds, my sister-in-law managed to shoehorn in a pecorino salad and some pan-fried scallops, both of which were mouth-wateringly good. If only I hadn't had the chocolate and honeycomb parfait I might have been able to slip away without loosening my belt, but that was the best thing of all.

As you'd expect from a restaurant opposite a Jimmy Choo emporium, the other diners were primarily good-looking young women who were treating themselves to lunch after a hard morning spent getting their nails done at the nearby Bliss Spa. Daphne's is tricked out like a Tuscan farmhouse and the contrast between the sticky humidity of Brompton Cross and the restaurant's cool interior made it particularly inviting on the afternoon I went there. In the restaurant trade, August is the cruellest month, but Daphne's was like a little oasis.

By the end of the year, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jesus has pulled off a miracle and once again turned Daphne's into the hottest ticket in town.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter @NiranjanAjit @tgemiles @NickJTimothy No, but the first to contrast somewheres with nowheres. I took it to be a rif… link  (2 hours ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film