Vanity project

4 February 2017

9:00 AM

4 February 2017

9:00 AM

The Waverly Inn is the house restaurant of Vanity Fair magazine in New York City. It is part-owned by Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, whose life, at least since Trump rose, is dedicated to the realisation of social justice using his favourite weapon, which is being friends with celebrities. Carter’s political engagement is like a blusher brush’s political engagement. It is unfit for purpose, and it is too late anyway.

Even so, Carter has declared war on Donald Trump by slagging off his restaurant in New York City — the Trump Grill in Trump Tower, which I reviewed, or rather crawled out of whimpering, in my last column after attempting to eat a taco bowl to prove I don’t hate Mexicans.

The best analogy I can summon for this stupid war is from Weimar Germany: the Social Democratic Party of Germany, but celebrities now, are telling the National Socialist German Workers Party: your sauerbraten suck.

Carter dispatched a Vanity Fair writer to review the Trump Grill. It was cruel, like dropping a debutante into ’Nam with a grenade made by Prada. She duly described it, quite correctly, as the worst restaurant she had ever imagined, even in hell.

Adolf Hitler might have had the restraint to ignore my theoretical attack on his restaurant. Trump, of course, couldn’t ignore Vanity Fair’s; he doesn’t have it in him to ignore a slight. The Waverly Inn, he wrote on Twitter, has the worst food in New York City, a judgment which will end his career as a restaurant critic, and so he must remain a human Wotsit with malignant narcissism and a pile of nukes.

So here is a war of civilisations being fought through hamburgers on Twitter. This is worse than a war of civilisations being fought on Twitter without hamburgers, because hamburgers don’t matter.

The Waverly Inn, which is in the West Village, is not the worst restaurant in New York. It is not even the smuggest, although it is very smug, and not the kind of place where you will find people wearing cheap clothing that says ‘American Patriot’. The Opentable blurb says it exists for ‘the city’s best and brightest’, which I suspect is mugged from a Waverly Inn press release with Vanity Fair fingerprints on it, although I cannot prove it.

It lives in the basement of two brown townhouses. There is a crowded bar; further in, a crushed dining room with wobbly pseudo-decadent art and too many tables; at the back, a double-height room remade as a fake garden. The trees around are bright with fairy lights, it is true, but the toilet is so small I fall into the bowl, and I do not feel like a celebrity then. I feel like a tourist who has fallen into a toilet bowl where celebrities have been.

What do these cracked Gatsbys get for their dollars? Good service, yes; the waiter is charming. (Almost all service is good these days, even in London. It is the financial crisis.) The famous chicken pot pie is adequate; the hamburger, which I requested be served medium rare, is rare; the chips are oversalted; the puddings are over-sugared; the salad is fine.

But there is a restaurant more charming and less expensive uptown. It is called the 21 Club and, if you ask them, they will take you to the cellar and show you Richard Nixon’s lost collection of wine.

So not as bad as the madman calls it, but still overpriced and duplicitous fairy dust for idiots who, consciously or not, want to eat Vanity Fair. They want to pulp its shiny pages on their tongues, digest the advertorial and be reborn as soap; and — who knows? — it might happen. These are crazy days.

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