LAST year, one of the City’s favourite restaurants, Vivat Bacchus, made headlines all around the globe for introducing a £1,000 tasting menu despite the onset of the credit crunch, as a treat for hard-working financiers celebrating their (albeit reduced) bonuses.
The menu – which included royal sevruga caviar, lobster linguini flavoured with 40-year-old Armagnac, grilled Wagyu fillet steak with seared goose foie gras and 15 varieties of cheese, washed down with Billecart Salmon rose champagne, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and 1963 Taylors Port – was so popular that four people even flew in from Monaco to sample it, before a frenzy of belt-tightening put paid to all that.
But now I hear co-founder Gerrie Knoetze has been inundated with requests to reproduce the menu over the past month by City types feeling a tad more flush. One romantic soul popped in with his wife to spoil her with a one-off treat, while a load more wanted to celebrate closing a big deal. Now if that’s not a sign that green shoots are appearing, The Capitalist isn’t sure what is.
The Capitalist’s heart goes out to Investec co-founder Bernard Kantor, who had been getting rather excited at the prospect of his horse South Easter running in the Epsom Derby, just weeks after Investec announced its high-profile sponsorship of the festival. But it was not to be: the horse was pulled out the day before due to a cough, leaving Sea the Stars – owned by a 27-year-old nightclub owner from Hong Kong – to take the glory.
Still, Kantor can take comfort from the fact that the race came up trumps in terms of raising the bank’s profile, despite attendance being down around 10,000 on last year and hospitality falling 15 per cent.
“Investec is simply all over the place,” whispered one smartly-clad guest through the drizzle. “And you can’t get away from those confounded zebras – there are more of them around than racehorses…”
While most of the City’s grandees partied the night away at the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo on Thursday for hedgie philanthropist Arki Busson and Hollywood actress Uma Thurman’s Ark charity gala dinner, a smaller crowd packed the City Tavern for a charity celebration of their own.
Among the “ageing City rockers” who played to a packed house were Ken Brotherston, the chief executive of executive search firm GRS, Andy Marden from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank’s David Pegg and Keith Robertson – who call themselves D.A.R.K.
“We raised £500 for motor neurone disease – not on the scale of Arki’s £15m but not too shabby,” Brotherston informs me.
Next stop for the recruiter-cum-drummer extraordinaire: the summer festival season, when he’s playing at three festivals with his other bank, The Elise Project.
“It was sort of a mid-life crisis thing when I started playing the drums 5 years ago,” he laughs. “But I’m not too bad at it now, if I do say so myself.”
FRAUD TIPS FOR FREE
Ever fancied making a quick buck out of investing, Bernard Madoff-style?
Apparently, our friends over the pond are hooked on a new online game by Cellufun called “Made Off”, which lures in punters by teasing: “Think you got what it takes to build a better Ponzi scheme than Bernie?” There are already tens of thousands taking part in the game, which requires players to attract virtual investment from online friends using a virtual “CelluPoint” currency, with rates of return ranging from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.
But given that many over-enthusiastic World of Warcrafters have become so engrossed in the game that they’ve started having affairs online, shouldn’t there be some kind of rule to prevent a site providing swindling practice to would-be fraudsters for free?