Such places value novelty over skill; Instagrammable gimmicks over satisfied customers.
In this Alice in Wonderland Mad-Hatter’s dinner party world, cost is an indicator of value, rather than the other way round.
Forget clean eating, we have entered the era of “super-rich eating”.
This is the Dubai-ification of dinner.
So I wasn’t surprised to see that during a recent visit to actual Dubai, German football club Bayern Munich’s midfielder Franck Ribery caused a stir when he tucked into a £1000 ($1800) steak, entirely encased in gold leaf.
An early report stated that the Frenchman was going to be fined by his team “for decadence” – which sounded rather thrilling.
In reality, it was for the ploddingly prosaic crime of Franck being a Planck on social media.
On Instagram, he defended himself for devouring his blingy tomahawk steak, with this poetry: “I owe you nothing, I owe my success above all to God, myself and my loved ones who believed in me. As for the others, you are nothing but pebbles in my socks!”
Thank you, Franck.
I think I liked it better when expressive footballers stuck to seagulls following trawlers, a la Eric Cantona.
Franck’s ode to excess began in the Dubai steakhouse, Nusr-Et, owned by Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gokce, better known to the world as “Salt Bae“.
This mover and shaker, this dramatic Caravaggio of condiments, became famous in 2017, when images of him – silent, muscled, serious, sunglasses indoors – went viral, essentially because he seasoned a steak by rolling the salt from his hand, down his perfectly-defined forearm on to the slab of meat.
His restaurants across the world are high on tableside drama – think blowtorches and liquid nitrogen – and eye-wateringly expensive.
Rumour has it that the food does not always hit the same dizzy heights, but who cares?
Get with the programme, Grandma.
That’s not what it’s all about.
I suppose this rush to gastronomic excess is understandable.
These hymns to decadence represent a predictable backlash to an era of clean eating – a non-organic raspberry in the face of those who believe they can achieve immortality via a strict regime of juiced celery, biodynamic chakra cleansing and Ayurvedic lipstick.
In their guide to how to be upper class in 2019, Tatler magazine included gout in their list of decidedly “U” indicators.
Yes, the disease that in the fifth century BC, Hippocrates recognised as, “the arthritis of the rich” (as opposed to rheumatism, which was “the arthritis of the poor”), is now – along with eating bread, audiobooks and SodaStreams – a sign of elevated social class.
Gout has always been associated with indulgence.
If racing is the sport of kings, then gout is their disease.
And let’s not forget queens.
In The Favourite, Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne hobbles along aristocratically, displaying a magnificently regal gouty gait.
It can only be a matter of time before aspirant toffs, instead of aping the lazy vowels of the aristo, take on this posh walk.
No need for decades of silver-domed rich dinners, simply shove your feet into shoes a couple of sizes too small and off you go.
Not too fast. Easy now.
Can it be long before the first gout day spas open? The first gout health retreats?
Social climbers will boast about their trips to the gout therapist, in an attempt to show off a totally goutrageous lifestyle.
This disease of the past is very much present, and morphing, in the way that diseases tend to do.
Once seen as the preserve of the fat and boozy, some doctors are reporting an increase in gout among the seemingly lithe and healthy.
The fashionability of high-fat, high-protein keto and Paleo diets has led to an increase in undercover gout sufferers.
Diets high in meat cause elevated levels of uric acid in the joints, which can cause gout’s acutely painful inflammation.
So I suppose in seeking health, happiness and a path through this drama we call life, once again, Oscar Wilde was right: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Except when it comes to gold-leaf covered steak, presumably.
The Telegraph London