Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Friday 14th October 2005

Nobu Berkeley

When people find out I used to work for Vanity Fair, they often ask about the Oscar party. What's it like being surrounded by all those celebrities? The answer, rather surprisingly, is that it's a bit anti-climatic. The problem with packing so many stars into one room is that there's no space left for ordinary mortals and, without members of the public around to swoon over them, the celebrities seem weirdly diminished. Paradoxically, if Vanity Fair invited fewer celebrities, the Oscar party would be a lot more glamorous.

The Ivy has solved this problem by having a two-tier reservations policy. Celebrities can get a table at the drop of a hat, but regular punters have to book six months in advance. The upshot is that there's always a healthy mix of A-list stars and total nobodies and this combination makes for an electric atmosphere.

Nobu Matsuhisa has taken a leaf out of the Ivy's book and opened a new branch of his eponymous restaurant in Berkeley Square that has a "no reservations" policy. Mr and Mrs Chav can supposedly wander in off the street and, provided they're prepared to wait for an hour or so in the downstairs bar, be guaranteed a table. In reality, of course, celebrities can call up and reserve a table at any time, so, like the Ivy, Nobu Berkeley has a nice mixture of the famous and the non-famous, the chic and the not-so chic. That's the idea, anyway.

Unfortunately, Mr Matsuhisa has made the mistake of seating the different sets of people in two separate rooms, thereby defeating the whole point of the two-tier system. The restaurant is situated on the first floor and when you get to the top of the stairs, the rich and famous are shown to the right, while the walk-ins are herded into a kind of pigpen on the left. I can quite understand why someone would want to come back to the Ivy after being made to wait six months since there's always a chance they might be seated next to Posh and Becks. But why would an ordinary customer ever make a second visit to Nobu Berkeley?

On the night I went, I was recognised by the maitre 'd and, thankfully, managed to avoid the mosh pit of Burberry-wearing looky-loos, all craning their necks to see if anyone important was being ushered into the VIP section. The food was every bit as good as I've come to expect from Nobu, the highlight being the Yellowtail Sashimi with Mr Matsuhisa's famous Jalapeno sauce, but it was the restaurant-equivalent of the Vanity Fair Oscar party. The beautiful people surrounded me on every side, most of them flashing an unseemly amount of bum cleavage, but there weren't enough regular folks around to be impressed by them--at least, not in the part of the restaurant I was in. I was the only person in the VIP section kicking my dining companion and saying, "Don't turn round, but guess who just sat down behind you?" (It was Jasper Conran.)

David Collins, the ubiquitous interior designer, has completely surpassed himself on this occasion. The piece-de-resistance are the gents toilets downstairs, which combine blood-spattered, stainless steel walls with Kheils moisturiser dispensers. Who on earth is Nobu Berkeley supposed to be for? Metrosexual axe-murderers? (The ideal customer would be Patrick Bateman, the hero of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho.) This strange combination of vanity and brutality sums up the restaurant's atmosphere. Well-groomed masochists wait patiently in the bar downstairs so they can be ritually humiliated by the restaurant's staff when their number finally comes up.

As my wife and I were leaving, I shook my head with despair and told her that this new Nobu would never fly. We were then immediately confronted by a huge mob of people clamouring to get into Funky Buddha, a nightclub right next door. They were indistinguishable from the preening wannabes crammed into the departure lounge at Nobu. Of course, I thought. Mr Matsuhisa has figured out a way to duplicate the ego-shredding experience of going to a fashionable London club. For reasons I don't fully understand, Nobu Berkeley will no doubt be a roaring success.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Twitter @AshleyWills @fatwheezybloke @WillBriggs9 Free schools get exactly the same money as academies because, legally spe… link  (55 minutes ago)


The shocking truth about Jordan Peterson by Wesley Yang -
The intellectual dark web by Bari Weiss -
How identity politics is harming the sciences by Heather Mac Donald -
The fall of the German Empire by Ross Douthat -
How Tom Wolfe became Tom Wolfe by Michael Lewis - Vanity Fair
The neuro-diversity case for free speech by Geoffrey Miller -
The Age of Outrage by Jonathan Haidt -
The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski -
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony -
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller -
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan -
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand -
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge -
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell -
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander -
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell -
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff -
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings -
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew -
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus -
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman -
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer -
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan -
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs -
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan -
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker -
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Inside Westminster's free school -
Robert Conquest obit -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -


Andrew Lilico
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
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
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


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

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

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

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film