A new e-mail received this morning informs me that I've been nominated to join the A List - 'the London clubbing system for people in the know'. House, Funk and Garage? Good god are they mad? The only clubs I'm interested in are those covered in chocolate that come in a pack of five. Even the rash of private members clubs opening throughout central London leave me reaching for the calamine lotion.
Nevertheless, you can't avoid these places over the party season. They sort of swallow you up as you walk along Piccadilly like the alcoholic version of the Venus fly trap. You mean to go to the tube station and suddenly you're sitting in a basement bar with Harry, or Alan, or the Actor with the absentee wife.
Or maybe you just (italics) happen to be passing the Hilton (well people do) and you wander into Zeta where the waitresses are dressed like Russian factory workers, sans headscarf and the bar resembles a doctor's waiting room, circa 1957. It's all grey and depressing and surely the reason they invented the sixties. However, at Zeta, as well as the usual roll call of alcopops, you can drink any possible lurid combination of fruit juice from their 'natural pharmacy table'. There's even a one meal juice plan called Sex and Aphrodisiacs which ought to scare away whoever you're drinking with. Frankly if you think you need to a Disco Bunny to kick start your libido, save yourself a tenner, and put it towards an anorak.
Personally I kind of the 10 Room, opposite the Atlantic at the rear of the Cafe Royal. It's where Morticia Adams would go for a quick one with Gomez; silly, louche, smoky and festooned with floor to ceiling velvet curtains in a perfect shade of Cadbury's purple. There's even a little curtained nook on the stairs where, when I pass away, I'd like to have a plaque - and to hell with the park bench in Kensington Gardens.
The 10 Group have also taken over and refurbished Tokyo Joes underneath Fakhredine, the Lebanese restaurant in Piccadilly. The club used to have the reputation of being the kind of place frequented by women who do wander past the Hilton late at night but it's been transformed from a dingy, seedy dive into a very yellow, very Donovan open space. There's a DJ, a couple of bars and a collection of gorgeous, pouting prepubescent waitresses wearing little fishtail skirts who are so slim that when they turn sideways you can only see their trays.
I was a bit worried by the 'sunshine' yellow, imagining that we'd all look like aliens with jaundice, however, it's much gentler on the complexion that you would think. You can leave your Gucci shades at home. The lighting is very soft and diffused, with organic seating units that lift and separate the customers with all the efficiency of a Platex bra.
We had cocktails. Well you have to. There's every kind of champagne cocktail you can think of though I have to admit that these places bring out the Sharon in me. I know I should be drinking either Evian or a Dry Martini, but I love all the tarty things and would take a maraschino cherry over an olive any day. I had in quick succession a pear Daiquiri, a mango Daiquiri and then on through the spectrum. Each comes with its very own his and her team - a waitress carrying the glass and a man with a cocktail shaker who pours it from a great height. It's like watching a magician and with lovely assistant.
Both tasted like the kind of thing you mash up for babies, which given most of the customers, is probably rather apt. Harry, or Alan or somebody had Guinness with champagne in a tarnished silver tankard which tasted of Brasso, or maybe that was just the drink. What can I say, we checked our taste buds at the door with our coats.
Naturally, it's not about fine dining. 10 at Tokyo Joes has organic platters - canapˇs that could just about cover for dinner if you had filled up on vodka laden pureed fruit first. They call it 'lounge culture' though since one of the things on the menu is Provincial Vegetables, either they're serving up lobotomised yokels in a mini pastry case, or their culture could do with a brush up.
We had a plate of Crostini, the Vegetable Sushi and Salmon Sashimi, the Provincial Vegetables (though we worried they'd miss the last train home), the Chicken Satay and the Shrimps. The sushi was a bit on the stodgy side - too much rice to filling but everything else was good to adequate - if all you want is a drink with something to munch on. If you're really hungry I'd nip upstairs to Fakhredine and have a mezza. The food's good and they bring it by the trolleyload.
We also had Fresh Fruit Fritters with Greek Yoghurt which were nicely done - not too much batter, crisp and delicate - just like me next morning and, I assume, Harry, or Alan, or whoever else was there.