London Bankers Are Hungry Again
I guess everyone has to eat, even in a recession. When the light appears at the end of the tunnel, though, appetites get bigger ... and more discriminating. In London, upscale eateries are seeing the investment banking crowd come back, and the wine is once again flowing. The cities top chefs are still worried about what will happen after Christmas, but for now, they're happy to see their creations gobbled up by the city's financial sector.
Marcus Wareing has had what he calls "a fabulous year." The waiting list keeps getting longer, and he says, "There's a good vibe." Tristan Welch's Launceston Place is seeing more wine flow, and demand is picking up. Pearl's Jun Tanaka remains cautious, "We'll really know in the first quarter 2010 if business has returned ... I don't know if it's a trend or a hiccup."
Across the city, there's a mix of optimism and trepidation. Le Gavroche, Wahaca and Le Café Anglais, for example, offer some variation of "Business is good" or "Business is booming, and Gordon Ramsay tells Bloomberg News, "There's an increasing air of confidence, which has been particularly apparent since the beginning of September." Michelle McGuire of The Palm said the restaurant had its busiest week three weeks ago since its opening in May, "with record takings." Sam Hart, of Fino, Barrafino and Quo Vadis, on the other hand, calls the improvement "fragile."
Nonetheless, this is a far cry from the angst that characterized the fine dining world a year ago. When people start to eat well, you know that things are turning for the better.