I knew the augurs were not set fair, Paul Day the excellent Executive Chef has resigned and, reserving 2 seats for the “St Tropez” dinner turned out to be a long running saga email saga with the LS receptionist and of course, the event much heralded to kick off at the very grand new Kempinski Hotel, moved entirely to the more modest surroundings of the LS Club itself. Seems the weather forecaste was the reason, but maybe that should not come as a surprise when the St Tropez season pretty much comes to an end with the passing of August !
Anyway, very few amongst the LS members and their guests seemed to be sporting any “St Tropez” apparel and dark jackets with no tie seemed to be about as summery as most of the men present could managed. Wearing a La Martina polo shirt made me feel I had misread the marketing blurb for the evening, which was ST Tropez dinner with fashion show, followed by “After Party” with DJ Alex Douche
Sat down to enjoy a half glass of complimentary champagne in the charming “library” area of the club to then be disturbed by staff setting these tables for dinner. I was told that the library was reserved for some special dining party; strange as this party would not have been able to see the fashion show in the main dining all of the Club. Thought it prudent then to check out table situation in the LS dining room, asking a pretty waitress if one could select one’s own table. She did not know, so deferred the question to a another pretty, but harassed looking, girl acting as the Maitre D’. With a charming smile, she told they were all available. Coming back 20 minutes later, was then told there was only a choice of 2 or 3 tables and, all the others were “reserved” , so I quickly plonked myself and the blonde down at one, before we were finally relegated to perhaps, the bar area, where it turns out the late-comers were finally accommodated.
A long dinner menu on a single sheet of paper greeted one on the table ( as it later turned out, it missed one of the many small courses). I think there were seven or eight small offerings and most were instantly forgettable or, remembered for the wrong reasons. Anyway, this feast kicked-off with some very tired and, somewhat over-cooked Edame beans, followed by a Amuse Guele sized spoon of sashimi style tuna. Then followed a luke warm bowl of beef wanton soup around the same time as the ice bucket, for my luke warm bottle of Veuve Cliquot. The master of ceremonies for the evening announced that the special prize for the evenings guests, which was to have been a trip to two to Paris for the best dressed couple would go rather to the couple who spent the most on the evening. Very tacky, given this was not as far as I know a charity event and not wanting to win this dubious award, I had down-graded by choice of a good Vintage champagne to the more modest Veuve. However, when it arrived the young waiter did not bother to let me inspect the bottle or taste the offering, pouring ( badly ) two glasses of this before I had a chance to check it temperature. He seemed most surprised when I then asked for an ice-bucket, which arrived with no serviette. That was the last attention our wine received all evening. I had to carry out the top-ups myself, using the table napkin as the serviette to catch the drips from the ice bucket. The requested glass of Merlot that I had asked for mid-way through the “feast” completely failed to materialize.
Moving on through the menu I can only say that my taste buds glazed over with one small boring dish followed by another. One however stood out in its awfulness, the Orange Curry Salmon, which completely overcooked, without flavor sitting on top a truly solid brick of sticky rice. The blonde took a few desultory pokes and sniffs at the fish part of this dish and then pronounced herself already full, to save my blushes. Perhaps, it was as well that the chef failed to appear in person to greet his victims as at that point, I would have asked him if I could go into his kitchen and knock up a quick stir fry.
The finale to the Thai (?) menu was a tasty but inappropriate, white and dark chocolate mousse set atop a mango puree. Perhaps the mango was eastern link in this ménage a trios, but otherwise it seemed to be a lost soul at a Jehovah’s Witness Conference of elders.
At some point during this two hour extravaganza we were treated to a St Tropez fashion show by six or seven young Czech models, all of whom looked as it they needed a good meal themselves. Not sure who the fashion designers were they were representing, but perhaps by the time the finale came, my concentration was on the last scoops of the mango puree which were doing a good job at eradicating the doubtful flavours of former plates.
Declining to hang around in what was quickly becoming a deserted room ( something happened later there, but I’m not sure what ), we beat a path to the bar and sat ourselves down at one of the former “dining tables” there that had been vacated already by its occupants. The evening improved somewhat, perhaps in part due to good music from the baby faced DJ ( he must have had his parents’ permission to stay out late that evening ) and copious amounts of properly chilled champagne ( this time we wised up and ordered it by the glass, with it coming at the right temperature ). A more lively and interesting crowd started to drift into the Club and whether these were members of not, one started to think that the LS has potential to be a great night-spot when its downstairs area ( which I understand will include a proper late night dance/music set up )is completed. I look forward to this with anticipation, as it will fill a gaping hole in Prague’s presently varied but relatively unsophisticated night life. But I hope it will also herald the arrival of some better trained staff.
Standing in line, in the middle of the bar, for 15 minutes in the early hours of the morning try and settle an astronomically high tab ( but it seems not the winning one ! ! ), left me feeling tired annoyed a and well ripped-off for a much heralded but mediocre event fashioned around a meal of memorably bad dimensions. “Let’s go somewhere fun” the blonde demanded and I was tempted to see if the restaurant at Sa Sa Zu was still open, so I could drop her off at the night-club there, while I grabbed a small bowl…..