When did glamour die?
From what I understand, she departed this world in the mid 80s: rattling her last breath on a heady mix of cocaine and champagne in expensive restaurants in London and New York.
Our world is the worse for her absence. For in her place, commerce has prevailed.
Commerce has rendered our existences jaded and grey. There is no poetry or beauty anymore. And we are relentlessly reminded of this as the stars of yesteryear follow in glamour’s suit.
It seems almost trite to point out that the new President is the embodiment of commerce’s triumphant brashness. But he is. With his orange skin, big red tie, and schematic expressions of belligerence, he is nothing but the art of the deal. If that’s what the world wants – let them have it.
What the world needs though are not Don Trumps but Don Quixotes. Mad men with noble dreams, rather than mad men with dangerous ones. And so it’s rather special that Margot has opened in Covent Garden. It’s a passion project between two good friends. Paulo de Tarso and Nicolas Jaouën first met at Scott’s. They found they had a similar approach to service and philosophy of life, and always dreamed of opening their own restaurant.
Their dream is now a reality, and the result is as whimsical as any dream should be. The restaurant is a return to real glamour. It is sophisticated and tasteful; comfortable and luxuriant. It’s also expensive, reassuringly so.
We arrived on a freezing Monday evening. The street lights in seven dials shone a warm, amber glow, as we stomped past the gaggles of drunken worker-bee louts wearing cheapish suits in cheapish bars with undone ties and humdrum lusts.
At first we couldn’t find it. We must’ve strode up and down Great Queen Street at least three times before we worked out where it was. For me at least this was rather embarrassing. It was one of the first times I’d taken my date out on the town, and you don’t make a good impression if you’re desperately unsure about where you’re going.
We couldn’t find it because I was expecting some emblazoned signage, but it’s hidden away behind a nondescriptly, grandiose facade. They’re not in the business of pulling punters in off the street. You need to know you’re going to Margot.
Inside feels refined, in an old, New York kind of way. Seating is arranged in dark, leather booths and banquettes, affording either intimacy or privacy depending on your requirements. Tablecloths are crisp, soft and white. This is assured dining. You feel in control, because your hosts are in control.
We order drinks. A Boulevadier and a champagne cocktail. We then order two more. I feel like I’m in a Fellini film. I’m enjoying myself. I’m revelling in the confident luxury. It’s whispering in my ear, “Go on have some fun. No one’s watching.”
The menu is robustly Italian, with a distinctly masculine flair. Starters are scallop carpaccio and burrata. Mains, veal ossobucco and steak. The burrata indulgently oozes. The scallops are feather-light but meaty. The veal is deep and the steak well-rounded. This kind of food is the bedrock of good conversation. It’s reliably delicious, but with enough moments of opening flair to indulge a few initial gasps of delight.
Paulo comes over to our table. He is the perfect host. The established raconteur at ease with anyone. Knowledgeable, and very well connected, with his New York accent it feels like Al Pacino has opened a restaurant in Covent Garden.
“It’s funny.” He says. “People asked me. Why are you opening in Covent Garden? But I kind of like it. I think it kind of works.”
I agree with him. And I appreciate his nonchalance. Paulo has a graceful charm, and Margot is an extension of his and Nicolas’ likeable personas.
Apparent throughout is the passion behind this project – and that is glamour.