Quattro Passi: restaurant review | Jay Rayner

Mayfairs Quattro Passi thinks its gilded. But, says Jay, there are some things you just cant polish

34 Dover Street, London W1 (020 3096 1444). Meal for two, including wine and service: £300

In the closing years of her life my late mother, who once loved restaurants, came to despair of them. Her hearing was failing and the spaces that were once ideal for banter and gossip became the enemies of such. Restaurants, it transpired, are mostly designed by young people with no understanding of acoustics; who think hard surfaces and polished concrete are easy on the eye, regardless of how cruel they are to the ear. The crash and clatter of self-regarding modern restaurant design managed what almost no one and nothing else could: they rendered my mother silent.

September 9 marks the start of Lipreading Awareness Week, and they asked that I consider the impact of design on those who are hard of hearing. Im more than willing to oblige. Whats wrong with a bit of carpet? And maybe the odd curtain? A low ceiling and a bit of enclosed booth seating wouldnt go amiss either. I hate the fact that some people are missing my wittiest lines over dinner simply because of crap design.

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