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Peter Langan

Pulling in the stars – then biting them

Peter Langan, right, at his Mayfair brasserie. Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

In the late 1970s, Langan’s may as well have been London’s only restaurant, says William Sitwell in The Daily Telegraph. At least, the only one “worth being seen in”. The Mayfair brasserie was the brainchild of Michael Caine and Peter Langan, a former chef. It became a celebrity hotspot: Elizabeth Taylor loved it, Mick Jagger had his birthday there and David Hockney designed the menu. After closing last year, Langan’s is back with new owners.

But will it be as popular, asks Samuel Muston in the Evening Standard. After all, so much of the restaurant’s reputation rested on Peter Langan’s madness. A squat Irishman, he was permanently drunk. He would crawl under the table and bite diners’ ankles – “he was particularly partial to Janet Street-Porter’s lower leg”. He climbed on top of Princess Margaret’s table while she was eating: she never returned. And he once called Orson Welles “a stupid fat f***”. The owners eventually clashed too. Langan said Caine had “a council house mind”. The actor retorted that “you would have a more interesting conversation with a cabbage” than with Langan. After Langan died in 1988 – from injuries sustained after he set his house on fire – the restaurant was never quite the same.

“Anyone behaving like Langan in today’s society wouldn’t last very long at all,” says the restaurant’s new co-owner, Graziano Arricale. But the new Langan’s will still have spirit. “It will be anything goes,” he says. Just maybe not ankle-biting.