Invisible Stranger

Invisible Stranger

Collecting Crises on Old Compton Street and Beyond

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Monday, February 16, 2004
Poison Pen
There are few other ways in which a Stranger can be better or more gainfully employed on a Monday morning than penning a well-considered letter of complaint, carefully enumerating one by one all the points on which a certain, supposedly trendy fish restaurant failed him the other night.

A maître d' whose welcoming charm and effusive joie de vie made me suspect him to be the bastard love-child of Messrs Fawlty and Meldrew; and a waiter with all the capabilities of a koala in a K-hole, who forgot about three of the five dishes we ordered. A pile of chips, sorry, plat de pommes frites à la maison, arriving as a tasty and lukewarm accompaniment to the pudding we didn't want, and a swordfish steak slightly tougher than the soles of my old DMs. And let's not forget those chilly and soulless white-tiled walls, apparently reminiscent of an old-fashioned fishmonger's, but reminding me much more of the inside of that sleazy public lav on the corner.

But not once did I lose my cool, although that was probably down to the three very large Brazilian cocktails I'd knocked back earlier. Oh no, I meekly accepted the fifteen quid begrudgingly knocked off the bill, as well as the apology that wasn't offered, and slipped off into the Soho night, already composing my letter to Head Office.

It's a reasonable letter, even going so far as to praise the other classier – and pricier – joints in the restaurant group. It's lucid and polite but in a don't-mess-with-me-or-you're-fish-food sort of way. For I need vouchers. Vouchers! If you want me to shut up, then give me vouchers, lots of them! For you see, my dears, there really can be such a thing as a free lunch.