Dylan Jones: 'Langan’s was once the centre of a certain part of London society'

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The Independent Online

Langan's is the sleeping giant of the London restaurant world, a place that was once the centre of a certain part of London society, but which has seemed content to sit in the shadows for the past decade or so. It is still run by the charming Richard Shepherd, and for years there have been rumours that he is "just about to sell", but nothing ever comes to pass. It is still popular, but I think even Richard would admit it's not the force it once was – when David Bailey used it as a place to have Ritz editorial meetings, and where Peter Langan used to fall asleep under people's chairs.

In Michael Caine's never-less-than-completely-engaging new book The Elephant to Hollywood, he describes the time he rounded up some potential investors for Langan's intended LA restaurant. Not only was Langan half an hour late for the meeting, but when he did eventually turn up – paralytic – he immediately collapsed on the floor, and was soon fast asleep.

Soon after, Caine invited Langan to lunch at Ma Maison, which at the time was the hot spot. "He was surprisingly well behaved during the meal, in spite of his prodigious intake of cocktails and champagne. I wasn't taking any chances though, and when he decided he needed a pee, I went with him to make sure he found the toilet." But Caine wasn't quick enough, and by the time he'd caught up with Langan, he was looming over a table occupied by Orson Welles. Langan peered at the ageing colossus, and enquired, ever so politely, "Orson Welles?". When Welles acknowledged that this was he, Langan said, "You are an arrogant, fat arsehole".

I haven't been to Langan's for over five years. A colleague was leaving work and had always wanted to know what all the fuss was about; so we went to see if there was any fuss left. We had a great time, and the food was a lot better than expected. The spirit of Peter Langan was long gone, although we attempted to celebrate him in an appropriate fashion.

When the waiter asked my guest what colour wine she'd like, I held up the wine list and pointed. "Oh, I think we'll have both please. We're bi-wine."

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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