The gospel according to Dick

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The Independent Online
Dick's Last Resort is a scream. Literally. A hurricane of screeches blows in from a nearby table. It's a hen party, happily drunk, but in an infectious way. Just the kind of people DLR likes.

But it's not always this noisy. The American fast-food chain, which threw open the doors of its first London eaterie this month, is a family affair on Sunday afternoons. At the Sunday Heavenly Brunch, the music switches to gospel courtesy of Soul Stirrings, a seven-piece ensemble. On the musical menu are both contemporary and standard songs, ranging from American to Jamaican. The choir leans towards showbiz and avoids preachy Bible waving, however. Dick's is not a pious place by any stretch of the imagination. As for Sunday food, it's American fare: waffles, a salad bar, stir-fry chicken, sausages in gravy, cajun chicken pasta and mashed potatoes, with prices pegged at pounds 9.95 for adults and pounds 5.95 for children. One suspects vegetarians won't be queueing around the block.

Early signals that the restaurant favours a relaxed atmosphere come when approaching the entrance. Hulky American manager, Bobby Bridewell, is on the steps, being given a shoulder massage by hostess Sheryl. "Hi! How'ya doin'?" he booms by way of uninitiated introduction.

Hunking great pork and beef ribs arrive in buckets, not on plates. Knives and forks are provided, but using them is discouraged. The clientele are mostly 20s and 30s happy-go-lucky office types, content to quaff their way through as many of the 74 beers as possible. The hen party, meanwhile, is in riotous full swing. Time for a game called "Having a blow job". The blush-free bride-to-be, hands behind her back, sits on a chair facing a complete stranger who has a cup of cream between his legs. The woman has to... well, guess. "I'm on my hen night," roars soon-to-be-hitched Heather Tomlinson, 32. "But I usually get my tits out when I'm drunk anyway."

ANGELA LEWIS

Dick's Last Resort, 66 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London WC2 (0171- 836 8000)

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