Alan Parker is the one person certain to go home happy from tonight’s big bash, as the recipient of the Bafta Fellowship. But for most other categories, it’s as open a field as there’s been for many years. No chest-beating ‘King’s Speech’ or all-conquering crowdpleaser like ‘The Artist’ this time round. With loyalties shifting from ‘Argo’ to ‘Lincoln’ to ‘Les Mis’ and back again, it’s likely to be a scattergun affair (although ‘Skyfall’ may get the Best British Film nod for services to the box office alone). Stephen Fry hosts the event from the Royal Opera House; expect the stars to turn out on force as their pre-Oscar campaigning really gathers momentum.
I haven’t seen somewhere look this much like an untouched ’80s wine bar since, well, the ’80s. And while I’m as partial to a trip down memory lane as the next man, the dining room at Hatchetts, a Mayfair restaurant and bar, just looks a bit shabby and dated. But what do I know? Maybe this is the start of a glorious post-Brexit return to the kind of venues we had before mass immigration took hold. Let’s hope not. Thankfully the food is less stuck in the past. My buttery, beautifully al dente celeriac risotto was a doozy, helped in no small part by excellent earthy depth from four plump snails and a drizzle of their braising jus. Lightly pickled red mullet – sharpness balanced brilliantly by punchy salt cod foam – was almost as good, as was a rich but nicely balanced dish of partridge with rainbow chard, bacon and a plum sauce. The only slight dud? My main of chicken-glazed cod, which was wonderfully cooked but then let down by aggressive seasoning. Service was excellent, and tactile to the point of flirty, which is fine by me. Unlike the £2 per person cover charge, which is of course an absolute piss-take.
Venue says: “Fresh British food with the finest, locally sourced produce. Cocktails made with house-infused spirits and an extensive, exciting wine list.”