Rextail is a restaurant for billionaire children, such as Richie Rich. Its owner, Arcady Novikov, has already opened a restaurant for billionaire men and their spindly billionaire wives — the bonkers fusion Asian/Italian barn Novikov, which travels with its own angry cloud of cigar smoke and identity crisis; so a restaurant for children is the next logical step in the redevelopment of London as a playpen for plutocratic families or cults. Children are sophisticated these days, especially if they fly first class or tumble around private aeroplanes; most of the clientele at the Disney Café by Harrods (note the terrible ‘by’, a pretentious substitution for ‘in’, which I suspect has the Spectator production editor eating his own face) are adults; because no child is stupid enough to spend £12.50 on Mickey’s Ravioli in Knightsbridge. (Knightsbridge!)
So Rextail (Mayfair) is doing children. Maybe cats are next, or owls. Rextail is on Albemarle Street, among art galleries selling terrible art relating to cats. Oscar Wilde started his stupid fight with the Marquess of Queensberry here, because he called him a somdomite. Idiot. And here it is, on the railing, by the foliage, which is extensive, and next to the doorman and the Real Menu: Children’s Menu. Huh? This is new — even for crazy London; an haute cuisine restaurant with kiddie food. Chicken McGolden Nuggets, or something. Roast Lambkin. Sweetie Corn. Lentil Roald Dahl. Whatever. This is like letting a child play Scarface or Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. It is like letting a child do Bond. It is wrong. Children should not socialise, seduce or wear Dior. I was so surprised I did not write down what it says on the Rextail Children’s Menu. Chicken, probably. And pasta. Definitely not whores, guns, Dubai or coke. Yet.
Down we go into what I can only call a restaurant styled on the principles of loveless sex for diamonds; a pre-shag-and-swift-abandonment restaurant, quiet in early September, because the ordinary clientele are on their yachts playing Angry Birds and cheating on their wives with their best friends, and all the other evil but also quite naff stuff that plutocrats do, at least according to The Colbys, which is my reference material in these matters. It is long and low, and lit with Terence-Conran’s-brain-style overhead lamps, with long green banquettes, raspberry chairs and tiny tables of the sort that the tiny — the billionaire children! — can squeeze past en route to the next deal. There is exposed brickwork, as if the plasterer died en route from somewhere else, a wine list for competitive ordering of claret, and what I think are bison heads, staring with thwarted malice from the exposed brickwork; ah, the bad apes! We created a civilisation and hung bison on the wall and ate spaghetti. And for our next trick?
All this is predictably masculine, designed by Russian men for Russian men: stare out a dead bison, and eat its distant relative, which you select from a plate, after which the waiter takes it back to the kitchen and the chef cooks it. (This is the fashion in London and it is unpleasant; the customer as butcher.) Unfortunately, the effect of all this masculinity, which I will paraphrase as ‘Grrrrr!’, is ruined by the aforementioned presence of children. (It is 8 p.m. on a Tuesday. Why?) Half the clients at least are children, or maybe I just remember it that way: an Italian female child, who may be made of gold, sucking slowly on a string of pasta, and a smaller one, whose cuteness I fear will melt in the light of a world-famous boarding school. The pasta is as golden as the child; the steak is soft and full of blood and yielding; the puddings are blameless. Even so, there is something wrong with Rextail. I expect to see high chairs in Stringfellows, or similar, quite soon.
Rextail, 13 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HJ; tel: 020 3301 1122.