I was cutting through the Savoy the other night on my way to the Embankment, as one does, pretending that I was rich enough to be a guest, or dull enough to be at one of the many cocktail parties in one of the many function rooms - though frankly, the latter fantasy requires a smaller leap of the imagination. Either there are lots of people in London who have been Botoxed or I must resign myself to the fact that those glazed expressions mean that only the cat finds me interesting - and then only at meal times.
However, cats and people do have a lot in common. Both can be lured with the offer of food when, for a short time at least, they purr agreeably, rub themselves against your legs, and let you stroke them, before disappearing into the night. So, with a few cat-people and an endless supply of hotel dining rooms, it's possible to indulge all your fantasies at once. In Canary Wharf at the Four Season's there's the latest Nobu venture Ubon, so called because it's Nobu spelt backwards. 'We do live in very swanky times', said my friend Clare as we left the launch party, except that maybe she didn't pronounce the 's'. Here you can gaze across the Thames, fancy yourself in a beaded bordello in Metropolitan Venice (though you can probably get to Venice quicker), and enjoy such morsels as black cod wrapped in lettuce. In 1-0-1 at the Sheraton Park Towers, you can imagine that all the Harvey Nichols bags at the next table are yours, or that you're on an ocean liner, bobbing along on a gentle sea of traffic while enjoying fine fish and seafood. And at Foliaaage, darling, in the newly revamped Mandarin Oriental opposite; you can experience the country life in the controlled environment of Knightsbridge while overlooking the acres of trees in Hyde Park, albeit currently sans foliage.
I took my cat-person to the Park, the hotel's less formal restaurant next door which shares the same view. In Foliage the room is on two levels so that everyone can see the leaves, but in the Park you want to be sure of getting a window seat. I admit, I preferred the room as it was in the former Hyde Park Hotel days when you could take tea with a grand piano accompaniment in the background, but according to my shrink, change is good. We must welcome change. We must take its coat and offer it a seat, and not treat it like a Double glazing salesman with one foot in the door.
The room at the Park is still satisfyingly hotelish in an anonymous, plush, creamy fashion. It is not at all Oriental, as noted by a rather perplexed guest. There are no ginger jars, paper lanterns or grinning lions. The bar is sophisticated, modern and clubby, while the marble pillared hotel foyer has two armchairs on either side of a large open fireplace and looks like the set for a Victorian Christmas card. Foliage, the smarter restaurant, boasts the intricate, aspirational Michelin sort of dishes, all beautifully arranged on the plate, probably by a specially employed valet. The Park however, has everything else. It's room service with a view, but without the bed and the bathrobe. There are guests enjoying club sandwiches and hamburgers, sititng next to others having pizza from the wood fired oven. However, Asian dishes do feature strongly in the menu in an eclectic all-things-to-all-business-men sort of way. You'll find Nasi Goreng alongside Hainan chicken and duck pancake rolls as well as tandoori chicken.
We started with dim sum - some prawn canneloni, chicken buns, prawn dumplings and baked pork dumplings, with Chinese five spice spiced cabbage on the side.
We followed with prawns in a red Thai curry sauce and the Thai green curry with chicken, baby aubergines and tiny green aubergines about the size of a marble in a spicy coconut broth. Both were fragrant, fiery enough to make you momentarily wide eyed and speechless, and served on a lacquered tray with a separate bowl of sticky rice. Now, really, if you want dim sum you should go native and visit a Chinese restaurant, and if it's Thai you're after, there's a cafe on every street corner. But having said that, our food was delicious and did not lack authenticity. My companion, a knowledgeable food person as well as a very kind and agreeable cat person, enjoyed everything.
Pudding was an apple and blackberry crumble with a tasting portion of Thai ice cream, and lemongrass creme brulee, both of which were delicious though rather silly-looking placed self-consciously on the bowl of a spoon. But, posh crumble? Why does anyone do it? It always lacks the stodgy indulgence the home-made. The topping looked as though it had been put through a mincer before being served in a glass saucer large enough to elicit a UFO sighting.
And then your bubble bursts. The cat-person walks off into the night and you pay the bill instead of charging it to your imaginary room. You're cast out into the real world, standing in the rain with no umbrella, waiting for the 52 bus whilst muttering, change is good, Marion. Repeat after me: We must welcome change. We must take off its bloody coat.