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Haute société04/06/2009 - par Mark Tungate
I was pleasantly surprised by La Société, the latest addition to the Costes' restaurant empire. The reviews mentioned that it was a former jazz venue called Le Bilboquet, which I'd never visited and was not able to feel nostalgic about. My imagination was stirred more by the impassive stone façade and the words over the door: La Société d'encouragement. I don't know what this society once did, but for now it serves as a fair description for a bar and restaurant.
Inside, the glossy black grand piano, the art deco reliefs and the usual tribe of drop-dead-gorgeous waitresses all provided eye candy. The menu was pretty much the same as it is in every Costes place – and in any case nobody comes here for the food. They come here for gossiping, people watching and discreet power broking.
What has all this go to do with the media? Well, it's just that ever since reading about the Stork Club in New York, or watching the film The Sweet Smell of Success, I've always daydreamed about restaurants that become microcosms of society. The kind of places where writers, movie stars, musicians and mobsters rub shoulders. It's a very 1950s kind of vibe, thick with cigarette smoke and jazz. The famous gossip columnist always takes the same table and even has a telephone brought to it. La Société does not have quite that kind of ambience, but you can tell the ambition is there. At least it provides the one thing many restaurants lack: entertainment.