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But glamour ain’t edible and at Nobu, it was always about the food.Yellowtail with jalapeno, a dish of clean, lithe perfection; black cod, forever copied, but never really bettered; rock shrimp tempura, crisp and plump and dunked into that creamy, slyly punchy dip; sashimi salad with the exquisite Matsuhisa dressing and toro tartare with caviar.Back then I had hair and a waistline and the absolute unshakeable confidence of callow, shallow youth.I could carouse for days on end with no discernible ill-effect, and a hangover was worn like a badge of pride, rather than the cruel, painfully leaden millstone, weighty with existential woe, that must be endured today.Yet despite this having all the appeal of amoebic dysentery, we would endure it with barely a whimper of complaint. Now hang about, I hear you cry, what about Francis Coulson at Sharrow Bay? The Box Tree in Ilkley, Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire and the Hole In The Wall in Bath? Anyway, growing up in Wiltshire in the Seventies and Eighties, you simply didn’t go out and pay for dinner. Three decades on and it still feels rather odd, exotic, even, leaving the warm fug of my father’s kitchen and venturing out to eat.
‘It’s like eating in a New York nightclub, 20 years ago,’ shouts my friend Chloe. After speeding through the usual perfunctory pre-order patter chatter (‘Nobu concept… That said, the place was jam-packed, though the downside being it was mainly male bankers. And Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, for all its ‘curated’ beats and wildly expensive wood, hasn’t.
The sad, frayed carpet and grubby fire doors, the Corby trouser press, UHT milk and institutional slivers of medicated soap.
Scratchy sheets, soiled bedspreads and the lingering odour of mildew-stained regret.
Easton Grey, Malmesbury SN16 0RBRating: The British country house hotel.
Five words that, not so long ago, would fill even the most forgiving soul with bleak, existential gloom.