Farmacy, which opened last year, is London’s most fashionable ‘clean eating’ restaurant; it is, therefore, a restaurant for people who hate food. This ‘clean eating’ epidemic grows as we fall into decadence and see food, rather than our own mouths, as the source of our calamity — how can we be saved from food? It is Bunyadi, the pop-up naked hobbit restaurant again, but without wit: same food, less fun, and no tree stumps at all except metaphorically, on the tops of people’s necks.
It is owned by Camilla Fayed, the daughter of Mohammed Fayed, and there is probably much to divine about that family dynamic here, had I stayed, but I didn’t.
The restaurant is on Westbourne Park Road near Notting Hill, which claims a fashionable status that even I, who have watched the districts of London bloom with postcode dysmorphic disorder, could never understand; it is a pit near the Westway with expensive children’s clothing shops, and people who are angry that they cannot afford to live in Mayfair.
The restaurant itself is 1970s in style: with pot plants and rustic wooden wall-coverings, it looks like the Sanctuary Spa in Covent Garden (sadly now closed) in which Joan Collins cavorted naked on a swing in The Stud. It is, then, a spa café and the diners are engaged in a sort of competitive starvation, which I hope they don’t mistake for friendship.
Woman A: ‘Let’s go to Farmacy. [You’re fat].’
Woman B: ‘Yes. [I’m fat].’
Woman A: ‘You can have a plant-based sundae.’
Woman B: ‘I hate myself.’
Perhaps someday there will be an imaginative restaurant for anorexics, but this isn’t it. In the Mayr Clinic in Austria the door to the dining room issues electric shocks, apparently by accident but I wasn’t sure. Or they could bring six peas on a plate, like an illustration from a Mr Man book. Or photographs of food, which the diners could then lick.
I am not — should you wish to engage in a Twitter dispute with me — mocking anorexia, which is a serious mental illness. I am mocking the sanctioning of it — the soothing of it — by restaurants that cannot spell their own names, and who think it is a moral gesture to make pizza without cheese.
Because women who eat steak can be passive-aggressive too, I brought four children under six to Farmacy. The staff did not like this, even though it was only one quarter full, because clean eating is all about control (and posting photographs of your non-food food on Instagram to disguise your literal and metaphorical hunger) and a clutch of toddlers do not express control. They express life, which is uncontrolled. They instantly denounce the hot chocolate as ‘yucky’. It has no sugar in it, and no chocolate, and no milk, and they are right.
This is not vegan food, which has a cracked nobility. It is fashion food, disguised as something it is not. The hot chocolate looks like hot chocolate. The pizza looks like pizza. But it is ersatz, and it is the worst food I have eaten in London, or anywhere, except perhaps in Trump Tower, which I still think tried to kill me. It looks at first glance wonderful, but it smells wrong, and it falls apart dully in your mouth, and you know it for what it is. It is what the sex robot is to the woman; it is what Legoland is to the city. I want to grab the diners by the throat and shout: don’t eat a plant-based sundae, for this is madness! That is not a sundae! Eat a real sundae! Let that be my elegy, but no one is listening.