There is a restaurant on a bus route or Underground that runs from us to where we sometimes go to celebrate. It is not an ordinary place, but a special, treat one.
This time, with no special reason, we decided to eat there.
It is a restaurant with no menu, where the food is provided by the chefs direct and just cooked from kitchen to table.
The “front of house” lady is jolly, and speaks with a charming foreign accent. Lunch starts at one o’clock.
We combine our visit to buy coffee in a nearby shop that smells strongly of its product. We buy a quantity, and have it ground finely for immediate use and for freezing for the future.
With the usual hugs and kisses we were greeted at the restaurant.
Sitting near to us was a couple of distinguished gentlemen of artistic demeanour.
Being known, so without even ordering, a bottle of excellent Puglia Primitivo red wine was placed on our table. But we wanted to start with a glass of white, which was then poured for us – when I made a grave mistake.
During and ever since I wrote extensively on wine, I carry a corkscrew in my pocket. This I used on the proffered bottle of red to surprise and amuse the bubbly lady host. The patron/owner appeared at that very moment and scolded her for not having opened the bottle at the time she poured the white wine. I apologised for my poor behaviour.
We had probably only consumed the first two courses when a jolly crowd of six men appeared with full intent to also enjoy a gourmet lunch.
The two distinguished men nearby asked us to slow down our consumption as they, like us, knew that there was lots to come and didn’t want to be rushed. We concurred – with words of friendship.
So, with much pleasure in the enjoyment of good wine and food, we made friendly contact with the six closely related men, whose profession was to advise on climate control in offices.
The meal proceeded – two, three, four, five, six courses. Then seven, eight …
By this time we had become firm friends with the six, who were laughing, hugging each other, animated in gestures and in high, manly spirits. At one time they sang in unison as do football followers, but without alcoholic inducement, being just happy fellows on the spree.
We had taken flyers of my 17 pictures in
Guildhall Art Gallery’s
exhibition of artists’ depictions of London’s
since its inception in 1894.We gave one of these to a neighbour of the six. Tower Bridge
The meal continued – nine, ten, eleven courses and onward toward the final one (no.15) of profiteroles.
No course had been too much, all fascinating in their way – none that one would cook at home.
It came to coffee, when Sambucca was offered as an addition. Then, would we like a liqueur? We chose Limoncello.
As we rose to leave we engaged in conversation with the distinguished gentlemen, who turned out to be retired professors of chemistry and science – with one of them having once experienced a major “eureka” moment in his career.
With more hugs and kisses all round we left – full to the gills, to rather stagger toward our bus stop for home – and a digesting “feet up” as befits those of our increasing age.
Do lunches like this happen elsewhere, we wondered?