Nick Clegg and sex. What doesn’t the dude know about it — he told Piers Morgan he had slept with ‘no more than 30 people’? He recently took his wife, Miriam González Durántez, the best of the political wives (no interviews, no photoshoots and their kid is called something like Zorro) to the ‘sexiest’ restaurant in London, as a reward for letting George Osborne telephone the house. It’s called Clos Maggiore, it is in Covent Garden and it has been open for 11 years. (Not a sexy age, 11, but bear with me). I’m not sure a restaurant can actually be sexy but PRs think everything is sexy — spoons, Utterly Butterly, Nick Clegg. So sexy, says the Times, and gave Clos Maggiore an award for sexiness. Top Table called it Most Romantic Restaurant 2011 — runner-up.
Is this a trend? The leaders of the coalition are always going on dates, shrieking their sexual normality; it is a policy. Austerity is sexy, goes this argument, like the Blitz; there was so much sex in the Blitz, the other half of London fell over. David Cameron took Samantha to Oslo Court, the Jewish grandmother restaurant, because Dave doesn’t know you can’t be sexy near a breaded fish and that at Oslo Court on any one night you have to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ 48 times and watch an aneurysm. I suppose if he dined in Cut or Scott’s people would think he didn’t care about the po-ar; it would be the foodie equivalent of that Angry Birds game he was always playing until his special adviser kicked it out of his hand and screamed ‘Focus!’
Clos Maggiore is in a Victorian terrace off Covent Garden piazza, not too far from the soap shops, the bag shops and the over-shiny opera house. Covent Garden is a department store selling tourist tat, with too many pizza joints and broken-hearted street performers; tourists like it because the air won’t actually kill them, like it does in Leicester Square. Clos Maggiore is, says the PR babble, ‘influenced by the stylish country inns of Provence and Tuscany’, which are, I want to point out, in two different countries. Obviously the English have no indigenous sexiness so we have borrowed some from the French and the Italians; it is a dirty invasion. The ground floor has a conservatory at the back, and there is a fire and a retractable roof — a London fairy bower for affluent face-munching couples. This is the sexy bit and we aren’t in it. We are upstairs, in a room for 16, most of whom are having birthday parties.
It is certainly a very effective restaurant — the waiters are smiling, the cutlery is sparkling, the service is swift; maybe Clos Maggiore could run the NHS? A points out that the table-clothes graze the floor, for privacy. Then he realises that some of the spirits are from the cellar of the Duke of Windsor, at £35 a shot. Are we still calling David and Wallis a love story? I thought revisionists have decided they were Nazi-loving sexual deviants, who had too many face-lifts to be sexy.
And the food? It is the lunch menu, obviously — £22.50 for three courses, and £26.50 if you want half a bottle of wine. The gravlax is thick — a little too thick, and juicy — and the scallops mate uneasily with tomato. The pork, though, is a wonder, sitting in a pile of peas with truffle mashed potato, and the tagliatelle with wild mushrooms kicks Bella Italia in the face.
It is, I think, quite a sexy restaurant. Not very sexy, but sexy-ish: to paraphrase Dr Evil, it is the Diet Coke of sexy, the pot-plant of sexy, the — well — coalition government of sexy. If you really want to seduce, try the Savoy Grill at 10 p.m.
Clos Maggiore, 33 King Street, London WC2E 8JD, tel: 020 7379 9696.