Cafe Society: Hard act to follow

The Hard Rock Cafe deserves a chorus of boos for starting, way back in 1971, the trend that would become theme restaurants.

A shame, then, that the food is actually quite good, as Serena Mackesy found out

We didn't know better when they started. In the UK, as a general rule, a hamburger was a thing you bought from a vat of greasy water from the side of a van, wrapped in a soft white bap with stewed onions and a choice of ketchup or mustard. To the British palate, chargrilling arrived as little short of a miracle; that you could indulge in it while looking at Jimi Hendrix's Stratocaster and David Bowie's Laughing Gnome awards, seemed to the youth of '71 the apotheosis of revolutionary chic. How were we to know it would all end with the Fashion Cafe?

For the last 10-odd years, the Hard Rock Cafe has been one of those phrases that your average Londoner can only say by curling their lip. This attitude is based more on the sights of it from the top of the No 19 bus that any hands-on knowledge. Only bridge-and-tunnellers or godparents would queue for a hamburger, let alone a t-shirt, and the view of two separate lines, one for each, hands in pockets along the side of the building, can send the average bus traveller into cackles of laughter.

The surprise, though, is that, if you put yourself through the ritual humiliation of applying cap-in-hand for entry and the slightly rushed manner of a staff who seem unimpressed by your achievement, the interior experience is really quite a pleasant one.

Okay, so you may not be able to drum up any great enthusiasm for the hoards of overpriced cast-offs lining the walls, but you can still get a good meal here: huge portions of burger, steak, corn-cob, sugary stuff with cream, really nice chips; this type of fast-food often has the Chinese- menu effect of leaving your stomach groaning for only half an hour, but a meal at Hard Rock demands a good hour's kip in Green Park afterward. All that, and you can say all sorts of mean things about your fellow diners in the knowledge that, beneath the carefully sussed decibel level, they will never hear you.

The Hard Rock Cafe, 150 Old Park Lane, W1 (0171-629 0382)

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...