author

Tanya Gold

£120 steak that looks like a M&S meal deal: The Maine reviewed

£120 steak that looks like a M&S meal deal: The Maine reviewed
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Last week Chris Corbin and Jeremy King lost control of the restaurant group they founded: Corbin & King, which made the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel under Piccadilly Circus where, if they were lucky, tourists would tumble as if into a fairy pool. Corbin and King understand that a superb restaurant looks after its staff, and its staff look after its customers. It’s called love, and it matters, but that is gone now.

Central London is ever more flinty, unimaginative and grasping: a playground for people who do not deserve it. Russians stripped their state and spent the proceeds in London. I saw them do it. Each luckless duck and bottle was a piece of a potential Russian state to be digested. Now their only currency is blood.

The Maine, then: a flinty restaurant near Vogue House that invites its diners to imagine they are in Maine for the price of travelling to Maine. I think Maine is America’s Cornwall, and so I will do it the courtesy of not visiting it. The restaurant offers ‘an immersive townhouse experience… rich with British heraldry’ (what does that mean?) inside an 18th--century house so over-renovated it looks like it was built in 2004, which rather crushes the point. We take the wrong door and enter a fashion university for trust-fund hags presided over by Professor Jimmy Choo. We are sent away for being ugly.

We find the right door and are waved into another basement paved with money. Here the chandelier is the thing. It is so large I spend the meal fearing it will fall on my head and there will be no more restaurant criticism from me because I was killed by fine dining.

It doesn’t look like Maine, even if someone has taken the trouble to hang shells on a wall. It looks like the set of Bugsy Malone. There is a bandstand for burlesque – for people so charmless they cannot persuade other people to take off their clothes for nothing and must pay for it instead – and vast crystal lamps in the shape of palm trees. There are no palm trees in Maine. I checked. I want to say to the designer what I want to say to people who think Israel will drop a nuclear weapon on Gaza: get a map. Our age of decadence is so decadent it does not even have its own aesthetic. We just stole the last one: Bugsy Malone. Weimar. Palm trees. And under a crystal palm tree in Fat Sam’s fake Weimar I watch blonde female diners road-testing their dermal fillers and pretending to eat.

The food has no character. It can’t, because it is trying to be Maine and Maine is 3,000 miles away, though in truth it feels further. The only visceral– and interesting – thing about this restaurant are the prices. £120 for a T-Bone. £148 for a Poseidon Platter that does not contain the god Poseidon, who wouldn’t be seen here anyway, being old money.

We can’t afford two steaks. Let that be my epitaph. So my companion has steak. She says it’s fine, though it looks to me like half of an M&S meal deal. I have a piece of spatchcock chicken so boring that if it appeared in an advert for spatchcock chicken it wouldn’t get a line. Lemon meringue pie also looks like a woman with dermal fillers – is that harmony? – but it tastes OK, being sugar. The service is excellent if you want a waiter so kind you fear she has been trafficked. She gazes at us with the expression of a woman with no access to her passport. I say it twice a month and it is true: London is falling.

I’m particularly proud of fetching that one
‘I’m particularly proud of fetching that one.’

The Maine, 20 Hanover Square, London W1; tel: 020 3432 2192.