What Did Chiswick Do to Upset Adrian?

Reviewer describes W4 as home of 10,000 dipsomaniacs

Related Links

Sam's excels at dress rehearsal

Text of AA Gill's Review


Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Having lived in Chiswick many years incontinent drunkenness isn't one of the features which I would say characterises the area. Yet in the informed medical opinion of 'distinguished' Sunday Times restaurant reviewer Adrian Gill there is a veritable pandemic of alcoholism and bladder disorder in W4.

In a rare sortee out of the West End he visited newly opened Sam's Bar and Brasserie to write a 'review' but because he liked the restaurant he seems to have redirected his usual offensive but enjoyable wit at us.

Food of any variety does not get a mention until about half way through the review. Profoundly dyslexic Adrian spends most of the words allotted to him musing on the recent claims that dyslexia doesn't actually exist. I have some sympathy with him on this issue and understand why he has asked the ever reliable assistant, Phil Space, to write half of his article.

I've written some reviews in my time and, although many people would consider it a dream job, it is fraught with difficulties you couldn't anticipate. It is impossible to enjoy a meal, notebook in hand, trying to eat and think up perceptive descriptions of what you are eating at the same time. Dinner companions are usually worse than useless. When you ask them how they have enjoyed their, usually free, meal they will either reply 'delicious' or 'okay' and become totally incapable of further elaboration. Adrian's difficulty in this respect is rumoured to have increased in recent months as, due to an arrangement with one of the Sunday Times sister papers, former it-girl Nicola Formby has been replaced by Abi Titmuss as 'the blonde.' Abi apparently rates her food solely by the size of the portions and she is quoted in the review as saying that 'the yellow soup is nice'.

Adrian admits to confusing Chiswick with Cheltenham. This is a common phenomenon with national newspaper journalists. For the last decade or so they have come to believe the centre of London is in Wapping which has moved their internal compass too far east. When he crosses the Hammersmith Flyover, the sight of trees and lack of open drug dealing on the streets increases his mistaken impression that he is in a Gloucestershire market town rather than still in London.

When he finally does mention the restaurant it is only to make a rather lame joke concerning something he describes as 'Boden clad homeboys' and 'Putney High Street hos'. Not sure what he was talking about but the punch-line was 'We'll always have Paris' which suggests that he thinks that Rick's in classic film 'Casablanca' was actually called Sam's. To be fair to Adrian, Rick does hand the club over to Sam at the end of the film but unless a low grade sequel was made that none of us have either seen we will never know if the pianist renamed the bar.

Sam's, the one in Chiswick not the one in "Casablanca 2 - The Beautiful Friendship", got off to a bad start with the reviewer because he was presented with a wine list that was longer than the menu. This clearly touched a nerve with the reformed alcoholic who can't touch a drop and he is provoked into saying, "This corner of west London is populated by pretty ordinary, normal, decent people: 90% of them teach media studies, the other 12% are commissioning editors for Channel 4. They just have one teensy collective dirty secret: they’re all honking dipsomaniacs." This much may well be true but he goes too far when he says that if you walk into a room in Chiswick 40% of people will have wet themselves - perhaps it was problems with bladder control that made him give up the drink and he assumes everyone else has the same issues.

Despite his reservations about the area he actually said lots of positive things about Sam's, presumably he was surprised to find such a top quality place in the Cotswolds. With all Adrian's cod offensiveness and hit and miss humour it is easy to forget that, unlike many in this line of work, he does know his food and is generally quite perceptive on this subject. As he had clearly been having a bad day, Sam's did well to rate three stars, although their score was probably boosted by having a name that was easy to spell.

Edward Prescot

October 5, 2005