Dorsia is the fictional restaurant in Bret Easton Ellis’s excellent novel American Psycho. The psycho, a banker called Patrick Bateman, longs to secure the 8.30 p.m. slot at Dorsia, but he can never get it; instead he walks through Manhattan killing other bankers, and sometimes prostitutes. Dorsia is like Jay Gatsby, an ever-receding metaphor, except it does breadsticks. And now it has opened in London, on the Cromwell Road, courtesy of a quartet of Swedes, whom a friend who understands clubland calls ‘ocean-going club fucks’. It is a private members’ club, with a nightclub in the basement and a bar above, but the restaurant will take anyone. You cannot telephone for reservations because they have no telephone yet, and so, foolishly, I email the PR.
It is an old grand house opposite the Natural History Museum, ruined by velvet ropes at the door. Why do this? Are there strippers here? It used to be a bar called Firehouse, popular with local idiots, but it went bad, and they fled to Boujis, like people who act like refugees but dress like sluts.
The dining room on the first floor is tiny, with rolls of purple wallpaper hung in swags; the menu is equally tiny, just ten dishes long. It is the fourth day of service and out comes the chef, Alexander Baillieu, all beads of anxiety, to say hello. I wish I could say that Dorsia stinks of massacre and avarice, but no. They do lotus root smoky bacon crisps. I order a mushroom ravioli of real beauty, although my companion does not like her salmon, because it is a lump and lumps, if made of fish, are evil.
We watch Annie Lennox walk to a table. All I can tell you about Annie Lennox is that her entire body language is a denial of being Annie Lennox, so the main impression is of an Annie Lennox impersonator, who will ‘do’ Annie Lennox for £12 an hour. Her party is large, and divided into people who get to talk to Annie Lennox and people who don’t. They all look equally miserable, but their hair, as ever with music people, is superb.
There is a mini crisis with my lamb, when I discover it has only been cooked on one side. If I were Patrick Bateman I would kill the bread waiter with an axe, use the blood to butter the bread and depart to return my videotapes. But I merely send it back, which results in another visitation from Alexander, when he should be cooking Annie Lennox’s main course (I glance at her. She hasn’t noticed). My face aches with smiling. When the lamb returns, it is cooked on both sides. Pudding is wondrous chocolate ice cream, made on the premises.
Up comes Thomas Gillgren, a co-founder, who was responsible for Sketch. He apologises for wearing orange and offers a tour. Down we go, through a strangely lit tunnel into a nightclub with black velvet walls. There are no windows, only mirrors. I could write you a metaphor about that. Or I could say there are no windows, only mirrors. I obediently have a flashback. I attended a bondage party here in 2004, for the Guardian. The club isn’t open yet, and there are brandy bottles on the floor. Thomas takes us through a secret door into a VIP room. It is tiny and windowless, and made of red velvet. There is another secret door, into an even tinier VIP room. At last the interminable run of secret VIP rooms stop, with a toilet. If there is another secret VIP room under the toilet I do not find it, but if it does exist, it belongs to Lady Gaga.
It feels like Hell, unless you are taking cocaine. Then it would be heaven. So Dorsia is true to Patrick Bateman’s madness; bankers who want to kill other bankers, and sometimes prostitutes, will love it. Me, I only wanted some ravioli.
Dorsia, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2HR; email@example.com