David Usborne: Our Man In New York

Another London import on the Manhattan menu
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The Independent US

With Roger Moore we shared a four-course lunch prepared by the Perigord restaurant including a grand, two-tier cake to mark his 80th birthday. (Yes, Bond fans, it was that long ago.) Tamsin Lonsdale gave us candied walnuts and cheeses infused with truffle oil. As for Hillary – she supplied hot dogs and beer.

Birthdays have been only one of the excuses for assorted assaults on my dietary health of late. A fine dinner with finer wines at the French embassy was advertised as a salute to the French designer Jacques Grange, who had just been nominated to become a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur.

Tamsin having a party, meanwhile, is nothing remarkable. That is what Tamsin does.

Event organisers in Manhattan compete fiercely for the best locales. The Grange invitation said the French embassy, but in truth it was the Cultural Consulate across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Still, no one was complaining, certainly not the suave gent – also Parisian and a designer – who had snagged a spot for his vintage Ferrari right outside the front door.

Hillary did just fine with the ornate Beacon Theatre, usually a concert venue that similarly hosted Bill's 60th last year. Roger had his do at lunchtime in the sedate surroundings of the Delegates' Dining Room at the United Nations.

The real reason we were there though was to honour his more than 20 years as an ambassador for Unicef.

There is usually some hidden agenda to affairs like these. It took a squint at the small print to divine the purpose of the Grange dinner – a puff for his work redesigning the posh Mark Hotel over on Park Avenue. Hillary was just after the campaign cash, of course. So what was girl-about-London-town Tamsin up to at the staid, oak-paneled National Arts Club down on Gramercy Park last Tuesday night?

She was manufacturing fabulousness, of course, just as she has been on the banks of the Thames for the past few years with her handy little business called The Supper Club. Buoyed by its success at home and her enduring ability to pop up in the social pages, she is branching out to this side of the water. Stow away your Hamptons hampers boys and girls, the Supper Club is launching in New York!

It will function slightly differently over here, at least according to my super-connected and terribly transatlantic friend Sally, who described the London operation as a glorified singles club for Sloanes. (Her description.) In New York, however, social networking always takes precedence over plain old sex and that is what the Supper Club will strive above all to facilitate for its American members.

Join for an annual fee of $750 (£365) and in return Tamsin and her crew will get you all the best restaurant and club reservations, introduce you to positively the most compelling people in town – artists, models, rising fashion stars, media bores and so on – and even have you along to super-oxygenated parties such as this one. To my left is Rufus Albemarle, to my right the artist Brad Fisher. I am impressed. It's a crush, but when the people are all this good-looking, who is one to complain? As ever, things are not quite as they seem. Just because I am at the party does not mean I'm in the charmed circle. It's a purely promotional affair. Nor, I dare say, would I ever be granted membership, which means being recommended by two existing Supper Clubbers and turning up for an interview.

In London, fewer than one in five applicants are eventually accepted. What are the criteria for acceptance, exactly? "I only invite people to join the Supper Club who I would invite into my home," Tamsin explains. "I'm looking for the perfect dinner party guest ... the one everyone wishes to be seated next to." Ah well.

The plan in New York is to begin with 300 members and then expand slowly to a thousand. It's all rather reminiscent of another London import on the Manhattan social scene, the Soho House over on Ninth Avenue. Come to think of it, I ask Sally, half of these people surely belong to the Soho House already, so why do they need the Supper Club? "Soho House is so over," she replies with a giggle.

Come midnight the staff at the National Arts Club, used to a less excitable clientele, are fed up and announce that someone has been caught smoking and we must all clear out at once. Not to worry, everyone here knows the hottest place to go next. (Beatrices in the West Village.) It's enough for me and I wander home asking myself why the kind of people Tamsin invites as members of the Supper Club would possibly need its services. I doubt she has much to teach these Manhattanites about social connections.

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