Belfast Telegraph

Business view: Old haunt of ruling class on the brink

By Margaret Canning

It's been to London's political elite what The Front Page and McElhatton's once were to hard-drinking journalists in Belfast. But now London's Gay Hussar restaurant, the location of rendezvous for politicians and hacks over the last 53 years, could be off the menu for good.

The Hungarian restaurant, sometimes known as the Labour Party's canteen, has been facing financial difficulties for some time, resulting in some enterprising diners starting a petition on change.org for investors to come and rescue it.

According to food writer Benjamin Nunn: "Behind the corridors of power lie the secret rooms where deals are made and fates sealed, and no more so than at the Gay Hussar over Bull's Blood and Goulash. The place is steeped in history, the narrow walls festooned with caricatures of the myriad famous faces who have dined within."

In the spring, members of the board of directors of the appropriately-named Goulash Co-operative believed they had reached a deal with the Malaysian owner Corus Hotels, which had accepted a deal for the short leasehold. The board was later asked to increase its offer – currently £222,000 – but was reluctant to take this step. Wonderful as Northern Ireland's food scene is, we'd be hard pressed to think of a similarly pivotal location in our history. No doubt many powerful people lunched and dined in Nick's Warehouse, but it is no more. Paul Rankin's Roscoff/Cayenne will also have played host to some influential players, but it, too, is no longer. Let's hope someone rescues London's.

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