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book cover of Le Caprice

Le Caprice

A non fiction book by

London's Le Caprice, like its sister restaurant The Ivy, on which AA Gill has already published a book, is noted for its suavity, its relaxed but impeccable service and the sheer pleasure of the experience. It has been smart for nearly 20 years: no small feat. The food, too, is beautifully judged, a chic mixture of French bistro and American diner classics. A book devoted to such a restaurant (rather than, say, a chef) should reflect pretty accurately, you might expect, the specific and very special atmosphere of the place. Why else would it be written?

Well, the recipes of course, from chef Mark Hix, are first rate. "Salmon Fishcakes with Sorrel Sauce" (the restaurant's signature dish), "Caesar Salad", "Potato Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup", "Tripe and Onions", "Griddled Scallops with Mousseline Potatoes", "Eton Mess"--these are all excellent, funky dishes. But a restaurant is more than its food. Gill does a good job of explaining why Le Caprice is so special. His baroque ruminations on the development of restaurant food and the craft of the chef are interesting, if a little self-regarding, though not especially a propos. But something very strange seems to have happened. Can it be that the art directors and photographer have conspired to hijack the project? Because, bafflingly, the look chosen is like an extended, hyperactive magazine spread, hectically drawing attention to its own innovative, buzzy, urban fashionableness. In one photograph the food looks as if it has been thrown at the wall; others depict it variously from underneath, through glass, decorated with costume jewellery (e.g. raw tripe), under ultra- violet; another shows a model in a leopard skin hat gnawing a whole roast chicken; in yet another, Rhona Cameron slings a martini across the room. This is not the restaurant evoked by Gill. This is some tacky, flash-in- the-pan, media-hyped joint. For perfectly good reasons, no doubt, Gill doesn't mention the brash and ambitious moules 'n' frites chain Belgo that recently acquired Le Caprice and the Ivy, but one might surmise that its sticky, unsubtle fingerprints are all over the book. --Robin Davidson


Used availability for A A Gill's Le Caprice

Hardback Editions

November 1999 : UK Hardback

Title: Le Caprice
Author(s): A A Gill, Mark Hix
ISBN: 0-340-73838-3 / 978-0-340-73838-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA