But in memory of his better days -- when Farouk gave riotous parties and passed out the jewels, days when he looked presentable in a fez and was married to his first wife, the beautiful Princess Fawzia -- Khalil Rizk, scion of a fine Lebanese family and the owner of Madison Avenue's Chinese Porcelain Company, gave a party at Mortimer's. What a blast. Actually, it was in honor of the Brazilian Ambassador to Washington Paulo-Tarso Flecha de Lima and his stunning wife Lucia, Princess Diana's pals, you'll recall. Diplomats can look like they're having fun even when they're dying inside -- it goes with the territory -- but in this case it was pretty obvious that the Flecha de Limas weren't ready to take the first shuttle out.
Glenn Bernbaum, Mortimer's proprietor, has become the town's major impresario. After hundreds of parties at the restaurant, many of which he decorates to the nines, no two are ever the same. For Khalil's dinner, set "somewhere in the Levant, 1930," Glenn turned the restaurant into a reproduction of the courtyard of the Abdine Palace in Cairo with gilded columns and walls with painted windows framed in blue, beige and gold tiles. Towering from the tabletops were crystal vases bursting with white lilacs. There were fezes for the men -- some looked prettier in them than others -- and faux silver and faux turquoise trinkets for the ladies and gents, complete with the evil eye to ward off, well, evil.
Glenn took to the books, particularly "Sultans in Splendour: Monarchs of the Middle East 1869-1948," reproducing sepia photographs from its pages to hang on the walls. There were pictures of Prince Mohammed Ali, staring from a garden of Manyal Palace; of a non-nonsense King Fuad I, mustachioed and fezzed, of Farouk and Fawzia's wedding banquet, complete with Farouk's mommy, Queen Farida, imperious in her crown, and, at the other end of the table, the very young Shah of Iran. Very Levantine and then some.