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Rewind TV: The Restaurant Inspector - review by Euan Ferguson

New star of The Restaurant Inspector is Fernando Peire, director of London's Ivy, and a star he will be – suave, personable, with infinite attention to detail. Well, he will be the star, but the star of this opener was actually Maria, possibly the most stubborn Italian-restaurant matriarch in Britain. The pair clashed from the beginning, at Alexandra's in Ramsgate; one of those places where the menu's the size of a Haynes manual, everything's from frozen and the family's foibles – including an alcove full of Diana memorabilia – took preference to customers' needs; and they wondered why they were failing. The argument between the pair over the salad bar ascended to heroic proportions; it was up there with Fischer-Spassky.

Slowly, charmingly, Fernando won her and her family round – the scene where he parodied her diva-ish head-in-the-air style of "service" was sweet as tiramisu – and, by the end, the menu was fresh, and blackboarded, the tat stripped, the loathsome salad bar gone and Maria, a former model, smiling gorgeously, on the walls from a previous life (Fernando's surprise) and smiling in real life, as real life returned through the doors. This promises addiction.

 

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