My pal Richard was over in London from Hong Kong so after drinks at the Chelsea Arts Club we went to the newly opened Ivy Club, adjacent to the eponymous restaurant in West Street. The entrance is so white that it feels as if you're walking into a huge iPod, but upstairs the rooms are reassuringly decorated, and the food is just as good as it is next door. The smart thing to say about the new club is, "Of course I've joined, but I'm not sure that I'll ever go there." But everyone will, you know, because everyone else will, and then they'll think you're only important enough to eat in the restaurant.
The Ivy Club reminds me of the famous New York after-hours nightclub that had so many Russian Doll VIP rooms that the VVVVIP room only had two seats in it. When we went, the place was packed, with as much Grade-A rubbernecking as you'd expect. People – even important people – still maintain that they don't go to the Ivy to be seen, but they all do. Because it's the Ivy (which, on its day, is still the best "good" restaurant in London). It's hilarious how many hacks with egalitarian tendencies love the idea of eating here, especially watching them get all snitty when they don't get a good table. (Of course, the Ivy will tell you that there are no bad tables here, but even mad old socialists know this isn't true.)
Last week, Dunhill's Bourdon House opened in Davies Street, Mayfair, a stone's throw from Scott's and directly opposite the worst "good" restaurant in London, Cipriani. It's a private members club too, with a couple of bedrooms for those too squiffy after dinner to find their chauffeur, mistress or jet. Outside the restaurant there is a rather impressive plane tree, curling its way round the building like a benign shroud. When renovating the building, the Dunhillians had wanted to move it slightly, but when they consulted the council about this, Westminster told them that if they accidentally killed it, the misdemeanour would cost them in the neighbourhood of ten million pounds – £10,000 for every window that overlooks the tree.
As Robert de Niro says at the end of Midnight Run, that's a very respectable neighbourhood.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'Reuse content